Liquor & SpiritsFortified & Dessert WinePortHouses/Producers
The House of Graham's is one Portugal's greatest Port Producers. Thewinery is widely regarded as the number one house. Graham's produces a widearray of port and is renown for some of the richest and sweetest vintageports. The House is now part of the Symington family (Warre, Dow, and Blandy'sMadiera).
The making of port was one of those great accidents of history. The British,having such a great yen for claret wine, needed a way to ship to Englandthe Portugese red wine they were producing in the Douro Valley. The winewould spoil in transportation by ship to England. Some enterprising Englishmenadded brandy to the wine as a stabilizer. This wine received the cold shoulder.The shippers tried harder by not letting the wine finish fermentation andthen adding the brandy. The residual sugar from unfinished fermentationplus the brandy better stabilized the wine and unintentionally produceda new wine with a different taste. The Brits loved it and we have port.
Briefly, the vast majority of port wines falls into two categories: Rubyor Tawny which is also known as a wood port. Ruby port is simple in character,without great concentration and light in style. Young wines with more aggressivecharacter and greater concentration, some of which may be exceptional, maybe set aside to become some type of wood port or tawny. The wine may bea blend of barrels with some type of barrel aging or if truly exceptionalset aside for 10,20 30 or even 40 years in wood barrels.
Vintage port is a special product that comes along every 3 or 4 years ina decade. The producer has an idea of port perfection and 'declares' sowith this harvest vintage. The flavor and special individuality of the respectiveharvest is so great that simply producing a Ruby or some type of Tawny wouldwaste the character of that vintage. In other words, the year is so specialin terms of climate and yield that the port producer makes a vintage winethat captures the uniqueness of the harvest and at the same time allowsthe producer to make a signature statement.
Graham's 6 Grapes
The 6 Grapes is a nonvintage, vintage character type port. What this meanssimply is that a vintage character port is a blend of different barrelsof ruby port to yield a consistent type of port year to year. The componentports within the blend are top-quality and nearly up to Vintage Porto levels.The vintage character port then resembles a great Vintage Porto in tasteat far less price. The 6 Grapes is widely regarded as the best Vintage CharacterPorto on the world market. The flavors are rich, smokey. spicy, with abundantberry flavor that is very satisfying.
Graham s 1988 Malvados Vintage Porto An authentic Vintage Porto fromthe year 1988. Vintage Porto is the highest quality level of port. Only2% of the production goes into Vintage Porto and only that from great years.Not every year is a vintage port year. The producers 'declare when thereis a vintage year. You can think of this declaration as a quality controlstatement. In some years the overall quality of the year is not up to thelevel of a general declaration on the part of the principal producers. However,in some of the great houses like Graham's their main vineyard can produceVintage level Porto. As result, a declaration will take place for theirvineyard or single Quinta. The quality is exceptional like a vintage Portobut usually substantially less in price. In 1988 Graham's felt that thequality of the vineyard was Vintage level although the overall porto shippersdid not declare the vintage. Hence the declaration of the Vintage for Malvados,their best vineyard or Quinta. Thel988 is a young wine so the flavors aresweet, spicy and full of black raspberry flavors. As the wine matures theflavors will change into a more smokey, less sweet wine.
Graham's 1979 Malvados Porto Vintage porto but only from Graham'sbest vineyard; Malvados. In some years the producers do not 'declare'. However,the great port houses; Graham s, Taylor, or Dow, might still produce Vintagelevel Porto from their best vineyards. So, these producers 'declare' theyear from only their respective vineyard; hence Malvados. By the way, theMalvados series represent great value since the houses are not united onthe year declaration. The 1979 is a smokey spicy blackberry marriage ofsatisfaction.
Graham's 1980 Vintage porto The 1980 Vintage Port is a fully declaredyear. Many of the great houses declared that year, eg. Graham's, Taylor,Fonseca, and Dows. As always, the vintage port represents only about 2%of the production for that year. The quality was exceptional as the vintageproduced big supple fairly smooth port. The grip or tannin is moderate fora vintage port which makes it ideal as a restaurant Vintage Port. The flavorsare already maturing into a smokey, spicy very satisfying drink.