Rough Regions Guide
Along with the production of Port, the country is also becoming increasingly known for a host of dry white and red wines made from a wide range of indigenous and international grape varieties. However, for the yachting industry, only the Port wine is currently of any significance.
Port wine is a fortified sweet wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It was defined and established as a protected region, or appellation in 1756 — making it the oldest wine region in the world. It is typically red (95% of the production) and is often served as a dessert wine or after dinner. In continental Europe however, the lighter styles of Port are often served as an apéritif. Fortified wines in the style of port are also produced outside of Portugal, most notably in Australia and South Africa, but according to EU law these wines may not bear the name Port.
The wine is made by the indigoes varieties Tinta Roriz (same as the Spanish Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa and Tinta Cão. Given the steep terraces the grapes have to be harvested by hand before being crushed at the winery. The crushing of the grapes is still being done by foot for the best vintage wines. For lesser port styles autovinifiers are used (a technical fermentation tank). During the crushing the color and the tannins are vigorously extracted and the fermentation is starting.
Before all the sugar in the grape must is converted to alcohol the fermentation is arrested by the addition of grape sprit (aguardente at 77% alc). This makes the wine both sweet and strong, at around 20% ABV. Up to this level the production of port is practically the same for all styles and it is the style of the ageing that will decide the flavors and character of the wine.
Ruby Port - the most basic and least expensive of all the Port styles. It is a blend of wines from several different vintages and vineyards. Ruby is often lighter and lower in tannin than vintage styles and is made for easy and early drinking. It is a fruit driven wine with intense aromas of red and black fruit along with Christmas spice.
Reserve Ruby - This is a similar style to the above, however it will be of better quality grapes and have spent longer time in oak, up to five years. This results in greater harmony and complexity.
Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) - A single-vintage Port of a higher quality than the Rubys. These wines are usually produced in years of high quality that are just a step below the greatness of a declared vintage. As one can hear from the name, it is bottled later than a classic vintage style and has therefore no deposit in the bottle, so decanting is not needed. Instead of spending around two years in cask the LBV spends around five years in cask before being bottled, so it is harmonious and ready to drink on release.
Vintage Port - comes, as LBV, from a single year. It has to be of excellent quality and can only be made in years officially declared by the authorities. Generally this takes place three times per decade. A vintage port is dark, intense and tannic and because of the short ageing in cask, it needs many years in bottle to mature gracefully and expose its full potential. Ideally a vintage port from a good year needs around 15 years in bottle before drinking and will then hold another 20-30 years or more. The first Vintage Port was declared in 1734.
Tawny Port - A Tawny Port is a blend of several different vintages that spends a longer period of time aging in smaller 600l casks called pipes. The name comes from the colour which, because of the long ageing, fades to a lovely tawny hue. The flavours developing during this time are reminiscent of Christmas pudding with aromas of caramel, nuts, vanilla and soft strawberry. The long ageing also results in very low tannin content.
Tawny with indication of age (10, 20, 30 years or more) - These tawny’s are made in the same way as above but with longer time in cask and will develop a greater depth of flavour and complexity the older they get.
There are a number of distinct major winegrowing regions spread throughout New Zealand, with the majority on the East coast of the Islands, in the rain shadow of the mountains.
For the yachting industry, I think the only wine sold in any larger quantities is Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. This shows the typical style of a NZ Sauvignon Blanc with pungent, grassy green/lime aromas coupled with mango and passion fruit. The wines are generally unoaked, crisp and lean in style and are made for early consumption whilst fruit is at its prime.