For many port shippers, especially those with historic British connections, Vintage Port is their flagship product and sits head and shoulders above all other styles in terms of quality and price.
Vintage Port (or VP as it is known here and on other internet forums) is only produced in years where the growing and harvesting conditions allow the production of top quality juice. Traditionally, shippers would "declare" a Vintage around 3 to 4 times in any 10 year period. Where 26 or more shippers declare in any given year it is known as a General Declaration. These tend to be, but are not always, the years in which classic VP's are produced.
The production of VP is, ironically, easier than that of other styles of port. The wine is matured for between 2 and 3 years in large oak vats known as Tonnel's before being bottled without filteration of fining. It is basically a blend of the raw product of the treading and fortification process of one or more wines with very little interference from the winemaker other than his skill and experience in selecting the perfect blend from different vineyards and grape varieties in order to produce a wine that is consistent with a particular shippers house style.
Once bottled, VP should be stored lying down in a cool dark place to allow it to develop gracefully into the king of ports. Depending on the quality of the vintage and the skill of the winemaker this can be anything from 10 to 50 or more years. All VP's will mature at different rates and each persons taste and preference will differ as to when a particular wine is at it's peak. Some like to drink VP young, thick and bursting with fruit, whilst others perfer to drink it after decades delelopment into a refind and complex wine. There is no right answer, each person must find their own way of enjoying VP to the fullest.
Due to the fact that VP is not filtered before bottling, VP will throw a heavy sediment or crust during the ageing process. It is therefore adviseable to carefully decant VP before drink it.
You will find more information about decanting elsewhere on this forum.
Anything to do with Port.
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