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Presentation hails 2011 a 'classic' Port vintage

Published:  24 June, 2013

Major players in the world of Port met in Porto last week to celebrate the official Port Wine 2011 Vintage World Presentation, a vintage they agree stands apart from any other the trade has seen.


Charles Symington of Symington Family Estates said: "2011 was probably the strongest declaration of the trade."


Symington attributed the success of 2011 to many years of hard work in the Douro Valley. In the past 20 years, producers in the Douro have strived to modernise techniques in the vineyard as well as in the cellars. Winemakers are recognising the need to create styles that are quality, but also attractive to the consumer.


"Vintage port today is a bit more approachable today than it was in the past," he said.


Dirk Niepoort of Niepoort Wines agreed that 2011 is "truly a special vintage". There is a tendency in the trade to compare vintages, but none can really stand up to the unique nature of 2011.


Although weather was a major player in the success of the vintage, a significant factor was the attitude of the port houses. "Instead of trying to make money, the producers wanted to make quality," Niepoort said.


Bento Amaral, head Portugal's Douro & Port Wine Institute's tasting panel, pointed to the mild and consistently warm days from the beginning of September as a key factor to superior grape quality. The perfect ripening conditions and clear forecast nearing harvest time allowed producers to make decisions based only on quality without fear of bad weather.


The one-day event, held at the Edificio Belo Horizonte, began with a blind tasting of 56 wines from the 2011 vintage, followed by an open tasting with producers and closed with the declaration ceremony of the Port Wine Brotherhood.


This was the first vintage declaration since 2007, and is part of a tradition held since the Brotherhood's first declaration in 1822.