Regions and Appellations Portugal Douro Oporto [Port]

Port Wine

Barcos rabelos on the Douro, Oporto

Oporto (Porto), Portugal's second-largest city, is the spiritual home of Port wine. Located in northern Portugal, Oporto marks the point at which the Douro river flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Oporto has been of great historical importance to the European wine trade since the Anglo-Franco trade wars of the 17th century. During that time the London market developed a taste for the dark 'blackstrap' wines that were shipped out of the city. The old Oporto city center is a classified Unesco World Heritage Site.

Greater Oporto includes the historic city of Vila Nova de Gaia, on the southern banks of the Douro. Here, Port was traditionally shipped in casks down the Douro to be stored in lodges for aging until ready to export. Since the construction of hydroelectric dams further up the river, it is not possible for flat-bottomed barco rabelo boats to travel to and from the Port estates. Consequently, Port casks are now transported by truck, though the aging process remains unchanged.

In the early days, Port wines were dry and astringent, as brandy was added to the finished wine to stabilize it before it was shipped to London. The modern style of Port can be traced back to 1678, when the Abbot of Lamego was adding brandy to the wine before it had finished fermenting. By arresting fermentation, he could retain the natural sweetness of the ultra-ripe grapes and create a fortified wine capable of improving with age.

Over the next 50 years, the style became so popular that demand for Port spawned various imitations and shortcuts. One of the most famously documented liberties taken with Port production during that time was using elderberry juice to add depth of color and flavor to otherwise vapid wines. The practice was eventually outlawed and by 1756 regional boundaries and rules had been established to govern port production.

The year 1933 was important for the port trade: the Port Wine Shippers' Guild and the Port Wine Institute were established to promote and control the quality of exported wines. The Port Wine Institute started grading port estates based on their location, soil type, age of vines and grape varieties grown. Classifications ranging from A to F were awarded to each estate based on the final score. This system is still in place today, though now administered by the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP), established in 2003.

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Most Popular Port Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Grape
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 101st 95 $110
Dow's Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 157th 95 $113
W & J Graham's Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 172nd 95 $112
Fonseca Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 212th 95 $109
Warre's Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 259th 94 $97
Quinta do Noval Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 356th 94 $108
Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 470th 97 $1,147
Niepoort Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 537th 94 $98
Kopke Colheita Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 688th 93 $117
Cockburn's Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 764th 94 $84
Quinta do Vesuvio Single Quinta Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 767th 94 $82
Ferreira Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 819th 92 $101
Croft Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 945th 92 $88
Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,040th 89 $21
Taylor Fladgate Very Old Single Harvest Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,052nd 94 $272
W & J Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,065th 90 $23
Sandeman Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,073rd 93 $124
Taylor Fladgate Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,184th 92 $64
Kopke Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,288th 91 $58
W & J Graham's Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,303rd 91 $54
Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,390th 92 $76
W & J Graham's Single Harvest Tawny Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,420th 94 $276
Niepoort Colheita Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,558th 92 $130
Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,745th 91 $69
Calem Vintage Port, Portugal Port Blend Red 1,820th 91 $72
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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