History of Port wine
A journey through time
Approaching the theme of Port wines is a bit like going back in time. It is also to speak of the sacrifice of these thousands of lives, of entire generations who, one after the other, have devoted themselves exclusively to the construction of the grandiose open-air monument that is the Douro. Besides generations of winemakers, the Douro has also used generations of agricultural workers for centuries.
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Various grape varieties to fight against phylloxera
The phylloxera had almost completely destroyed the Douro, like all the vineyards of Europe, but the genius of Man overcame this disaster with the rootstock and painstakingly had to replant everything. Everything was rebuilt by the local population, winemakers and agricultural workers, through hard work, time and sacrifices made in all the families. Rare plots of vines that have resisted phylloxera are still found in the Douro today. These prephylloxeric vines all have one thing in common: on the same terrace they are planted with a large number of grape varieties, which allowed the ancients to always ensure a harvest.
The Marquis de Pombal "created" Port wine
The Marquis de Pombaldelimited the region (with the help of the Jesuits whom he then expelled ...), classified all the properties according to their orientation, the nature of the soils, the altitude of the vineyard ... but also stopped the volume of production for each property (expressed in number of pipas - barrels - of 550 L of Port wines). And if the Marquis de Pombal "created" the Port wine, he also defended it with an iron fist so that all the participants respect clear but very restrictive rules.
It is therefore at the cost of thousands of deaths that the first Designation of Origin in the world was built.
It is the history and genius of men that leave us the great legacies. Port wine appeared when it was necessary to find an answer to the problems of transporting red wines from Haut Douro to Porto, when most of the wines did not support the trip. The secret is the addition of brandy during the winemaking process, for both white Ports and red Ports.
The English first exporters of port wine
Then the English have made Port a great wine, have exported it all over the world and even codified the rules for its tasting, in particular that of circulating bottles of Porto Vintage served at the table on the left and finishing them once opened.
Formerly the wine of great cellars
In the past, port wine was present at the table as an aperitif and dessert wine, but also in most celebrations because it was with a port that one made a toast. There were Port wines on each table and the richer the cellar, the more Port wines there were.
Since then, eating habits have changed. You no longer take the time to enjoy the good things, a simple sandwich serving today as a meal. Port wine has seen its presence recede and it is now often limited to a celebratory wine, for birthdays and family celebrations.
This is why we have to rediscover lost traditions, relearn how to taste Port wine as an aperitif (Tawny), to accompany a rib of beef (Vintage), appreciate a melon (Ruby), sublimate a blue cheese (LBV). All these associations should be encouraged to rediscover Port wines, for our pleasure of course but also to pay tribute to all those who have sacrificed themselves so that these wonderful wines reach us.
Glory to the Ancients and Long live Porto!