If you have yet to go to Porto before and are keen on a trip, get settled in because this virtual trip to Porto is about to begin, complete with Taylor Fladgate wines that can be found on LCBO shelves!

Foto: Eduardo Almeida

An exciting thing happens when you travel to Porto. In the city that shares a name with the fortified wine made around it, there are no hang-ups about drinking Port. From the start of the evening to the end of the night, Port in all forms can be spotted filling all the glasses in sight. Different from North America, Port is not just an after-dinner drink. It is so much more. There is a whole world of Port out. 

Nothing Starts the Night Like a Porto Tonico

Crisp, refreshing, and classically Portuguese, the Porto Tonico cocktail combines dry fortified White Port and tonic water. This cocktail is one of the world’s best aperitifs and is effortless to make. At one part White Port to two parts tonic water, all served in a tall glass, over ice and with a lemon wheel to garnish. This cocktail was a nearly best-kept secret in Porto for a long time, but it is honestly too good not to share. 

And while the origins of this cocktail are unknown, we do know the origin story of White Port itself. How it got to the cocktail stage is just part of the fun. Taylor Fladgate was the first to produce White Port, launching their Chip Dry in 1934 and continuing to make it ever since. Some Port Houses have followed along, but Taylor Fladgate carries the flag as the first. 

Made from a blend of several white wine grapes native to the Douro region, the Chip Dry White Port by Taylor Fladgate is a wine that predominately shows off the grape of Malvasia Fina grown in the Douro Superior, (the eastern area of the Douro Valley). This Port wine, made like many others, uses brandy to halt the fermentation, preserve the natural sugars, and fortify the wine. Done on the dry side, the fortification of the wine happens later in the winemaking process, creating a dry-style White Port filled with mellow aromas of fruits and flowers, with hints of oak and a lively disposition on the palate. 

The Secrets of Port Can Be Understood Via a Good Glass of Tawny

Port winemaking can seem overwhelming, but it is very simple to visualize if you keep these common facts in mind. First, all Ports come from the Douro Valley in Portugal. Second, outside White Ports, all Ports are made with red wine grapes native to the region. Third, all Port wines are fortified. And Last but not least, Port wines get their colouring from the ageing level they go through. So when you are enjoying a glass of Tawny Port, yes, you are drinking a wine made with red grapes, and that amber colour and fabulous aromas are all a result of the winemaking process. Tawny Port is a mind-blowing affair.

Rich and mellow Tawny Ports age for long periods in oak casks. They are marked by distinct amber or Tawny colouring, silky texture and mellow nutty butterscotch flavours, which intensify the longer the wine spends in wood. Taylor Fladgate holds the most extensive reserves of rare cask-aged Ports of any Port House or Shipper. And it takes an exceptional cellar to aid in the creation of 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50-year-old Tawny Ports. All the casks, filled with fortified ageing Port in the Taylor Fladgate line, sit in the house’s Vila Nova de Gaia cellar. This dark and tranquil place has thick granite walls and high beamed ceilings that provide the ideal conditions for storing and aging these Tawny wines. The cellar is humid, cool and damp, allowing the wines to mature slowly, evenly and gradually, all while acquiring complex aromas as they age. 

The 10-Year-Old Tawny Port from Taylor Fladgate is a superb example of the aged tawny style. A ruby amber-coloured wine with notes of dried red berry fruits, complex nutty notes, toasted coconut and a roasted chestnut aroma. Followed by a seductive palate with fig and spiced flavour and a persistently long finish. This is a wine best served chilled. It can be complemented by a deep mental dive into the making of Port or, more aptly, paired with some rich blue cheese and spiced almonds.  

An LBV That Delivers in the Glass and Beyond  

More than just good-tasting, a wine that gets fellow wine lovers going these days is all the extras that follow when enjoying a glass. It is no shocker that wine tastes so much better when it gives back to the world around us. Taylor Fladgate’s Late Bottle Vintage 2018 or LBV Port is a wine with a very concentrated ruby-toned hue. Filled with aroma expressions of dark berry and purple flower notes, with a touch of earthiness. Complemented by an elegant, expansive palate with just the right balance of structure, spice and sweetness. A style of Port created to be a more affordable version and an immediately drinkable option to Vintage Port, the Taylor Fladgate LBV is the most popular Port in Canada. And it is a heck of a sustainably made Port, too!

The sustainable practices of Taylor Fladgate are vast and truly global. They showcase a commitment to sustainable vineyard models, sustainable and regenerative energy use, efficient cleaning and maintenance, reductions in water use, and a genuine awareness of the impact of their carbon footprint. Energy savings have reduced emission numbers by the equivalent of 158 car emissions. Gas use reduction is now down by 75%, and water consumption is around the same reduction levels. All these practices in action won Taylor Fladgate the prestigious BES Biodiversity Prize, recognizing conservation and environmental sustainability achievements in 2009.

Are you ready for the big picture? The sustainable efforts by Taylor Fladgate are not confined to the Port House and its properties alone. The mission, values and vision of the Porto Protocol Foundation have positively impacted wineries around the globe. The international non-profit institution was founded by Taylor Fladgate Port, with hundreds of other members committed to significantly contributing to mitigating climate change. Wineries here in Ontario are a part of this program, and this is genuinely something special. It is rare to see a wine producer so invested in the global future of us all and the wine industry. That delicious LBV Port taste so much better with all this investment in the future of sustainable winemaking coming with every bottle.

End The Experience With Something Special; a Must is Vintage Port

Like vintage Champagne, Vintage Port is only made in exceptional ‘declared’ vintages, which only come to fruition around three times a decade. Unlike the other Ports enjoyed in this virtual excursion, Vintage Port is unique, collectable and special. This style of Port has a convivial nature. A Port that you don’t open at the end of a meal but the one you base the whole night around. Sharing the bottle with friends, enjoying great food pairings. One of the beauties of Vintage Port is that it is a wine. The style will grow with age but retains a lovely bold perspective and complex nature that must be enjoyed with the best company.

The Taylor Fladgate Vintage Ports blend the best fruit from the house’s estate vineyards of Quinta de Vargellas, Quinta de Terra Feita, and Quinta do Junco. After each harvest, a tasting panel selects the finest Port wines from the 3 vineyards, which are left to age for two winters in oak vats. By the second spring, the wines are tasted again, and if they are still considered exceptional, the wine is blended to create the vintage Port wine. Each vineyard adds something unique to the blend. Vargellas brings structure, elegance and complexity to the wine, while Terra Feita and Junco adds body, depth and powerful, concentrated fruit.

The exceptionality of Vintage Port is something that feels so soulful. The 2003 Vintage Port by Taylor Fladgate (coming to the LCBO in October) is a complex harmony of aromas, melding together notes of cranberry, cherry, plum, leather, sugared grapefruit rind, tobacco, and vibrant fresh purple flowers. This is a wine with tones of spice and character on the palate. Expansive and expressive on the palate, this is a memorable sipper that will only grow more complex and harmonized with age. 2003 was a blockbuster vintage, and it shows. 

But go back to 1997, with the 1997 Vintage Port by Taylor Fladgate (now at the LCBO). A tricky year for winemaking but a vintage meant for the history books because this is a wow wine. Filled with notes of savoury spices, toasted pineapple, violets, cooked fruit, meaty notes, pepper, tarragon and complex woody notes of cedar. Followed by a spice-driven palate that is bright, filled with movement and high levels of exuberance.  

A trip to Porto is undoubtedly the best way to explore the world of Port wines to the fullest. Although in the meantime, Taylor Fladgate has got you covered for a viral dive into the vast and divine world of Port wines. Their Chip Dry, 10-Year-Old Tawny, LBV and 2003 Vintage Port can be found at the LCBO.