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Home > Wines > Port Wines > Enology > Ageing

Ageing

The process of ageing a Port Wine may take several dozen years and it varies according to the type of wine one desires to obtain.

After the wine has first been racked from the lees, during the Winter that follows the vintage in which they were made, the wines are tasted and classified according to their sensorial characteristics.

The finest lots of wines that are produced in a year of exceptional quality are usually set aside with a view to their beging declared a Vintage. However, most of the wines are used to prepare blends that have special characteristics and obey to pre-set standards of quality. Blends are made in large vats that have stirrers or with pumping over circuits.

Wine tastingDuring their first two years, the wines are frequently racked from the lees and aired, as often and as intensely as required by the characteristics that the winemaker wishes the wine to develop as it ages.

Vintage and Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Ports usually begin ageing in cask - during 2-3 years in the case of Vintage and 4 to 6 years in the case of Late Bottled Vintage. After these wines are bottled, the characteristics improve considerably as their bouquet develops with little possibility of oxidation. The longevity of these wines, due to their wealth of polyphenols, is extremely high (usually a maximum of about 20 years in the case of Vintage and of about 5 years in the case of LBV, although these frequently continue to improve for many more years.).

Aging in woodAll the remaining types of Port Wine are aged under oxidating conditions: less so in the case of Ruby Ports (that thus retain a more or less intense dark red colour and the vigour of young wines), more so in the case of Tawny, Dated and Ports with an Indication of Age. As the wine ages through oxidation, its loses the harshness provoked by the tannins and develops an admirable rich and complex bouquet The variations in colour oxidation causes as these wines age are considerably marked. The intense, deep colour of young wines gradually gives way to lighter shades of golden red until it attains the gold that is typical of old Tawnies.

White Ports may be made with some maceration and aged under oxidating conditions although the latter are not encouraged as they age whenever one wishes to retain a complex floral aroma and a pale, citrine colour.

 
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