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Port is produced from grapes grown and processed in the demarcated Douro region.

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The wine
produced is then fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente in order
to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol content. The
fortification spirit is sometimes referred to as brandy but it bears little resemblance to
commercial brandies. The wine is then stored and aged, often in barrels stored in a cave
(pronounced kahv and meaning "cellar" in Portuguese) as is the case in Vila Nova de Gaia,
before being bottled. The wine received its name, "port", in the later half of the 17th century
from the seaport city of Porto at the mouth of the Douro River, where much of the product was
brought to market or for export to other countries in Europe. The Douro valley where port wine
is produced was defined and established as a protected region, or appellation in 1756, making it
the oldest defined and protected wine region in the world. Chianti (1716) and Tokaj (1730) have
older demarcation but no regulation associated and thus, in terms of regulated demarcated
regions, Porto is the oldest.
The reaches of the valley of the Douro River in northern Portugal have a microclimate that is
optimal for cultivation of olives, almonds, and especially grapes important for making port wine.
The region around Pinho and So Joo da Pesqueira is considered to be the centre of port
production, and is known for its picturesque quintasfarms clinging on to almost vertical slopes
dropping down to the river.
Wine regions
The demarcation of the Douro River Valley includes a broad swath of land of pre-Cambrian
schist and granite. Beginning around the village of Barqueiros (located about 70 kilometres
(43 mi) upstream from Porto), the valley extends eastward nearly to the Spanish border. The
region is protected from the influences of the Atlantic Ocean by the Serra do Maro mountains.
The area is sub-divided into 3 official zones-the Baixo (lower) Corgo, the Cima (higher) Corgo
and the Douro Superior.
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Baixo Corgo The westernmost zone located downstream from the river Corgo, centered on
the municipality of Peso da Rgua. This region is the wettest port production zone, receiving an
average of 900 mm, and has the coolest average temperature of the three zones. The grapes
grown here are used mainly for the production of inexpensive ruby and tawny ports.
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Cima Corgo Located further upstream from the Baixo Corgo, this region is centered on the
town of Pinho (municipality of Alij). The summertime average temperature of the regions are
a few degrees higher and rainfall is about 200 mm less. The grapes grown in this zone are
considered of higher quality, being used in bottlings of vintage and Late Bottled Vintage Ports.
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Douro Superior The easternmost zone extending nearly to the Spanish border. This is the least
cultivated region of Douro, due in part to the difficulties of navigating the river past the rapids of
Cacho da Valeira. This is the most arid and warmest region of the Douro. The overall terrain is
relatively flat with the potential for mechanization.
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Grapes
See also: List of Port wine grapes
Over a hundred varieties of grapes (castas) are sanctioned for port production, although only five
(Tinta Barroca, Tinta Co, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional)
are widely cultivated and used.
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Touriga Nacional is widely considered the most desirable port
grape but the difficulty in growing it and the small yields cause Touriga Francesa to be the most
widely planted grape.
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White ports are produced the same way as red ports, except that they use
white grapesDonzelinho Branco, Esgana-Co, Folgaso, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato
and Viosinho. While a few shippers have experimented with Ports produced from a single
variety of grapes, all Ports commercially available are from a blend of different grapes. Since the
Phylloxera crisis, most vines are grown on grafted rootstock, with the notable exception of the
Nacional area of Quinta do Noval, which, since being planted in 1925, has produced some of the
most expensive vintage ports.
Grapes grown for port are generally characterised by their small, dense fruit which produce
concentrated and long-lasting flavours, suitable for long aging. While the grapes used to produce
port produced in Portugal are strictly regulated by the Instituto do Vinho do Porto, wines from
outside this region which describe themselves as port may be made from other varieties.
Tawny port
Tawny ports are wines, made from red grapes, that are aged in wooden barrels, exposing them to
gradual oxidation and evaporation. As a result, they gradually mellow to a golden-brown colour.
The exposure to oxygen imparts "nutty" flavours to the wine, which is blended to match the
house style.
Tawny ports are sweet or medium dry and typically consumed as a dessert wine.
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When a port is described as tawny, without an indication of age, it is a basic blend of wood aged
port that has spent at least two years in barrels. Above this are tawny with an indication of age
which represent a blend of several vintages, with the nominal years "in wood" stated on the label.
The official categories are 10, 20, 30 and over 40 years. The categories indicate a target age
profile for the ports, not their actual ages, though many people mistakenly believe that the
categories indicate the minimum average ages of the blends. It is also possible to produce an
aged white port in the manner of a tawny, with a number of shippers now marketing aged white
ports.
ate bottled vintage (LBV)
Late bottled vintage (often referred to simply as LBV) was originally wine that had been
destined for bottling as vintage port, but because of lack of demand was left in the barrel for
longer than had been planned. Over time it has become two distinct styles of wine, both of them
bottled between four and six years after the vintage, but one style is fined and filtered before
bottling, while the other is not.
The filtered wine has the advantage of being ready to drink without decanting and is usually
bottled in a stoppered bottle that can be easily resealed. However many wine experts feel that
this convenience comes at a price and believe that the filtration process strips out much of the
character of the wine.
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The accidental origin of late bottled vintage has led to more than one company claiming its
invention. The earliest known reference to a style of port with this name in a merchant's list is to
be found in The Wine Society's catalogue from the spring of 1964; which includes Fonseca's
Quinta Milieu 1958, bottled in the UK, also in 1964.
Unfiltered wines are mostly bottled with conventional driven corks and need to be decanted.
After decanting they should be consumed within a few days. Recent bottlings are identified by
the label wording "unfiltered" or "bottle matured" or both. Before the 2002 regulations, this style
was often marketed as '"traditional", a description that is no longer permitted.
LBV is intended to provide some of the experience of drinking a vintage port but without the
need for lengthy bottle ageing. To a limited extent it succeeds, as the extra years of oxidative
ageing in barrel does mature the wine more quickly.
Typically ready to drink when released, LBV ports are the product of a single year's harvest and
tend to be lighter bodied than a vintage port. Filtered LBVs can improve with age, but only to a
limited degree; whereas the unfiltered wines will usually be improved by extra years in the
bottle. Since 2002, bottles that carry the words "bottle matured" must have enjoyed at least three
years of bottle maturation before release.