Port wine in Taylor’s Wine Cellars
It is no secret that I never could get used to drink wine and since 2009 I don’t drink alcohol at all. But when on our first day of Geo and Medieval trip close to Porto we took a wine tour, I was more than happy.
Why? I found it to be one of the most interesting tours ever! It was all new to me and I really enjoy learning new things.
The bus took us from Hotel Solverde to Gaia town and probably the most famous wine cellars in Porto area – Taylor’s wine cellars. We were welcomed by Susana from Tres Seculos events there and started the tour.
Right, there is no other way to begin the wine tour than by tasting wine! I was the only one not drinking but at least this wine did not smell bad to me :D
Interesting facts about Taylor’s Wine Cellars and Port wine produced here:
Producing companies are mostly foreign. It goes back in history. The oldest treat (the Methuen Treat) was ever made with England which explains the ancient relations in the wine industry between UK and Portugal. However, wine started to be produced in Douro region already before the treat. But each time the wine was imported to a foreign country, it came in a bad state so in the fermenting process they started to add a bit of brandy in it. It was the foreign countries who wanted to resolve this problem and get Port wine in good quality to their country, hence some of the foreign names in the Port Wine Industry. Nowadays it is not brandy any more, though still a bit of wine spirit is added to exporting Port wine.
1703 was the year of the Portugal – England treat when the Portuguese started exporting the wine without any taxes and the British exporting the clothes.
In 1767 Duoro region became the only place to produce Port wine in the world.
The warehouses of Port wine are on the south side margin of the Douro River, facing Oporto City because the natural weather conditions are better for the aging process of the wine.
Taylor’s Wine Cellars have been owned by the original family since 1693.
There is 4 to 5 million litres of aging port wine in the companies of The Fladgate Partnership which Taylor’s is part of?!
500 people work in the the entire company together with those in September during the harvest period.
Taylor’s buy grapes – a very small part of the global amount of what they produce and this is very important for the micro producers in the Douro Valley.
The process of making Port wine has been the same for the past 300 years.
There are 4,000 small barrels of Tawny Port that age for long time.
Wine is tasted on the regular basis.
Cross je Port unity of measure. One cross means one pipa which corresponds to 550 litres. The upper number above the cross is the quantity of water women used to bear on their head when they went to the well = 1 almude = 25 litres. The lower number is one canada = 2 litres. There was saying that men should drink at least 2 litres of wine per day to have strength at work, that’s why 2 litres was one of the wine measure units.
Taylor’s Wine Cellars get American or French oak barrels but they get more and more expensive. (natural resources) In the past the barrel was used only once and then sold to Scotland for whiskey. Nowadays the same barrel can be used for around 100 years.
Vintage wine is not filtered so tit is normal to have sediments in it.
Ruby wine is always from one harvest so the harvest year will be written on the wine bottle (so Vintage wine is always Ruby wine).
To get Vintage wine you need 2 or 3 years of aging in the interior of the vat. Being a very sensible wine, Vintage wine is probably more feminine version of wine than masculine, and after opening the bottle it is better to drink it within 48 hours.
The ground around the cellars is nothing posh, but made of stones because in hot months water is sprayed on them to keep the certain humidity and cold in the cellars. There has to be certain temperature and humidity for the wine to age.
It used to be people manually cleaning the barrels from inside, but many of them died (including children) because of no oxygen inside the barrel so nowadays water with pressure does it instead. Still until the 60’s there were children of 10 – 12 years doing it as it was easier for them to get inside that little hole in the barrel. It happened especially in the rural areas where it was usual to start working at the age of 12. But like I said, it was very dangerous and it doesn’t work that way any more.
During the aging process of the wine, wine disappears from the barrel vats slowly so to check it, a person opens the valve on the barrel and the wine goes up and shows the number.
In the first hours it is men, later on also women who are stepping on the grapes. It can be fun during the process but not so much after as for the next 15 days you cannot wear any skirt nor shorts because of feeling a strong hitch from the process and the coloured skin.
There is a wine hotel here – beds inside the barrel, or rotating barrel bed. Can be really interesting!
After this super-interesting wine tour full of many facts and stories, it was dinner time in fancy Barăo de Fladgate Restaurant in the Taylor’s Cellars. We had both vegetarian and meat courses, depending on what everyone preferred.
Guys tasted white, pink, organic and Ruby wine during dinner :D
In between the courses I was checking out the views over the River Douro we had from the restaurant. Pretty beautiful with all those lights!
The night ended up by singing on the bus on the way back to our hotel. What a night!
Taylor’s Wine Cellar tour and dinner were part of the Geo and Medieval trip which was a press trip. All the thoughts in this article are my own. For more information, please visit Turismo de Portugal – Porto e Norte website and Porto and Northern Portugal Tourism Board.