Portuguese port It happened in the middleXVII century, when England imposed a ban on the import of Bordeaux wines from a hostile France. Portuguese winemakers decided to take advantage of this circumstance, increasing exports to Britain. So that a wine that was not mature enough or immature, which was a common defect of European wines of that time, was not sour during transportation by sea, some alcohol was sometimes added to it. However, there is another version that binds the birth of port to a specific place - the town of Lamego - and, of course, as is found in the history of wines, to a certain clergyman, the abbot of the local monastery. According to legend, it was he who in 1678 treated two Liverpool wine merchants to “very pleasant, sweet and extremely harmonious” wine, which they rated as the best of all they had tried in the Douro Valley. The secret of the abbot was simple: he added brandy spirit to the wine during fermentation. Moreover, it must be assumed that not only the only abbot from Lamego owned this secret. However, the story for some reason brought to us exactly this episode. So, we have no choice but to imagine two young gentlemen in boots, embroidered camisoles with breeches, which in joyful excitement descend along endless flight of stairs, broken on a hill, where the monastery cloister stands. For all its beauty, Lamego is not the mostcharacteristic place for the Douro Valley, because it is quite far from the river. Meanwhile, the valley and the river require a separate description. At the beginning of its journey in Spain, this river bears the famous name of Douro and flows through three famous wine-growing regions - Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Toro. In the middle course, becoming the Portuguese Douro, it acquires a truly epic scope and slowly rolls between the cozy green slopes, in the rocky slate of which the vineyards are broken. Birth of portHomes who visited Lamego (and eventually sent a large batch of wine from there) were not at all pioneers in the Portuguese wine market. Already half a century before the German winesman Kopke was selling with might and main in the wines, and in the 19th century an English company, known as Warr, settled in the Douro Valley, which still produces its own port wines under this name. However, at that time, of course, there was no talk about the production of port wine. In the Douro Valley, they made (and still do) just a good dense red wine from the varieties of the variety turiga. Only gradually, at the beginning of the 18th century, when he saw that the English especially liked the more robust version of these wines, they switched to the technology, the author of which is considered to be the abbot from Lamego. The so-called cognac alcohol, which was mentioned before, has nothing to do with cognac - in reality it is pure grape vodka, agvardente (fire water), with a strength of 77 degrees. The classic proportion that local winemakers have identified is as follows: 1 liter of agwortht per 4 liters of wine (aggardent is added during fermentation). Of course, each winemaker can vary this proportion slightly to get different results. Another “golden rule” that has developed over several centuries in the history of port wine: grape spirit must be added at the moment when half of the sugar in the grape juice has been consumed (turned into alcohol). However, every good wine-maker will embody this common truth creatively, depending on how rich the fermented juice is. In the middle course of the Douro, between the towns of Regua and São João da Peschqueira, in the homeland of port wine, this drink takes only the very first steps in life. When fermentation ends, the port goes on its first trip 75 kilometers long - to the mouth of the Douro River, to the city of Porto, where it matures and matures, preparing for more distant sea cruises. Port wine outside the valleyTry to makeport wine outside the Douro Valley, on different grounds, in different climatic conditions, was undertaken by many winemakers. After all, from a pragmatic point of view, port is only a certain technology, and it, as in the case of champagne, can easily be applied anywhere. You can even try to use the same grape varieties, although it is much more difficult for port wine than for champagne: for example, turig nacional, the main brand for port wine, is not geographically distributed like the basic champagne varieties - chardonnay and pinot noir. In South Africa, making wine in the style of the Portuguese original began as early as the 18th century. For some time, “Constance” (Vin de Constance) from the Cape Province even competed with port wine in the European market. And in the Crimea, the wine called "port" as it appeared in the XIX century, is still being made. Nicholas II loved him very much: during his reign, the production of this drink in the Russian Empire increased markedly. However, the revolution of 1917 made noticeable adjustments to the process of making our port, as a result of which it can no longer be called port. The fact is that in order to reduce the price of the product, it was not grape, but grain alcohol that was added to the wine at the fermentation stage. Port wines in the CIS are classified in the same way as all other wines, namely: a) ordinary port wine (without aging in barrels), b) branded (aged up to three years) and c) collection (after aging in barrels it should also be aged) in bottles for up to five years). Of ordinary port wines, the most popular in the past were “Agdam” and “777” - white Azerbaijani fortified wines, which were poured in large quantities (and drank) in the territory of the RSFSR - from Dagestan to St. Petersburg. The British tradition borrowed from Portuguese in the middle of the XVIII century port became fashionable, and the British set the tone for its production. You can even say that this southern in origin wine, like its Spanish sherry brother, became a British national drink. In many English families, it is still customary on the day of the majority of a young man to uncork him of the same age - a bottle of port wine of the same “year of harvest”. And according to some historical legends, this drink turned out to be an accomplice to the victories of the British Empire: they say that on the eve of the Battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Nelson drew on the table a plan for the upcoming battle with Napoleon’s armada dipped in port wine. It seems that “ink” here served as a port of the category “Ruby”, but more on that later. For easy storage and further transportation of wine across the ocean, the English needed such capacious storages that, opposite Porto, on the opposite bank of the river, a whole suburb appeared - Vila Nova de Gaia. Until now, a dozen and a half British firms have their own wine warehouses here, the so-called lodges. Signs with their names, tempting in the evenings, are visible from the center of Porto. They give this beautiful old city a certain hedonistic flavor. During the informative and intoxicating walk along Vila Nova de Gaia (as there are tasting rooms in many of the lodges), you can see water marks made during the floods on the storage walls. It used to be that barrels of port with such spills sometimes floated out of the lodge, and fishermen fishing at the mouth of the Douro had the opportunity to become owners of 550 liters of free port wine - this is how much the traditional wine packaging holds. Although the process of manufacturing portthe Portuguese were always engaged, the trade of wine was initially completely controlled by the British merchants. However, in 1755 the Marquis of Pombal, the Portuguese Prime Minister, who concentrated almost sole power in his hands and carried out many useful reforms, significantly limited the British monopoly. He created the Trade Commission and founded the company Royal Oporto - as they would say now, the state enterprise for the trade in port wine. A year later, a law was passed, which predetermined both the wanderous fate and the solid reputation of port wine, a law by which this wine was to be maintained and bottled only in Vila Nova de Guy. Thus, the doors to the wine market were closed for all who could not afford to have their own warehouse in the Porto suburb: the decision was undemocratic, but wise, because the buyer could not be afraid to purchase products of an unreliable and accidental producer. This law, I must say, lasted until recently and changed only in 1986. Now, even small wine estates (here they are called quinta) from the Douro Valley can enter the port market. There was a whole “faction” among wine experts, convinced that port wine, like any other great wine, should be assembled and bottled only at its place of origin. However, the majority of newborn port wines are still to be stored in Vila Nova de Gaia in the traditional way. And still the whole Portuguese wine community subjects to anathema everything that is produced outside the Douro region under the name of port, even if it is South Africa, even the Crimea. Portugal's gifts are often called the “wine museum”, in particular, because so far it is cultivated and processed by archaic, “grandfather's” methods. In some farms of the Douro Valley, one can even see vines twining around trees, as in ancient times. And the containers in which the grapes crush their feet, the so-called lagars, are not only stored here as an attraction for tourists: wine for some port wines is still “born” in them. Until the 80s Portuguese wines seldom came out.to the world market. Meanwhile, the potential of the local winemaking is huge, and from the beginning of the 90s it became obvious to all specialists. Primarily, red dry wines from the Douro Valley, as well as from the Dao and Bayrada areas south of it, were recognized. Moreover, while prices for Douro wines are getting higher, Bayrad wines remain markedly cheaper, while at the same time they are not at all inferior to quality. As for the white wines, among them, first of all, it is necessary to call Vinho Verde, that is, paradoxically, "green". They are indeed “green” because they are made from unripe grapes, which gives them lightly bubbly and amazing, bright freshness. The best of these wines are made from Alvarinho grapes in the very north of Portugal. By the way, Vinho Verde can be red and dark purple, but they are just as fresh in aroma and are drunk, like their white brethren, very chilled. These wines should not be stored for a long time. To appreciate their youthful energy, it is better to uncork a bottle in the coming months after purchase. "Ruby", "Tony" and "Vintage" In Portugal itself, by the way, no one would even think of making port wine outside its production area. Moreover, the quality of the wine of each manufacturer is monitored by a special organization - the Institute of Wine of the City of Porto. It is he who determines in which years it is possible to produce the “Vintage” category of wines, and in which winemakers it remains to focus on “Ruby” (Ruby) and “Tony” (Tawny). “Ruby” is a dark red port wine with a bright pepper-grape flavor, which is aged in barrels for less than a year. This is the cheapest, so to speak, basic version, which has, however, its own exquisitely sophisticated version — Fine old ruby, assemblage, that is, a mixture of “ruby” port wines from different harvest years, aged in an oak barrel from two to four years. "Tony" ripens in the barrel for much longer - from 10 to 40 years, lightening strongly and acquiring a delicate nutty flavor. However, the ideal time for its exposure, according to experts, is 20 years. Longer it will become more and more like liquor. As for the "Vintige", then it is producedby mixing the port wines obtained in different years, especially favorable for winemaking. Something that reminds alchemical experiments. Thus, port wine, on the label of which “Twenty-year-old Vintage”, spilled in 2006, may not contain wines of the 1986 harvest at all, but in terms of taste will correspond to port twenty-year-old wine. The essential difference in the production technology of "Tony" and "Vintige" is that the latter spends most of its life not in a barrel, but in a bottle. As a rule, it is sent to the bottle no later than after two years of aging in oak. Therefore, with its overall flavor bouquet, even the very “aged” Vintige will be more similar to Ruby than to Tony: after all, when aged in a glass that does not breathe, the fruit taste of the wine is lost to a much lesser extent than in a breathing barrel. . There are two categories of Vintige, which are worth mentioning. “Late bottled vintage vintage port”, which, judging by its name, should be “the best of the best”, is actually an inexpensive compromise between “Tony” and “Vintage”. It is made, even in those years that are favorable for vintage port, but from a particularly “quick” wine ready for early ripening, which is then locked in a barrel for six years. Being then bottled, it is actually ready to use, although holding it in glass for a couple of years will not hurt him. But the really best ones are vintage port wines of a single crop year, which are sometimes also made from berries from a single vineyard (which, like the wineries, is also called quinta). The price of old vintage ports is far from small - after all, this is a collection item that can be stored indefinitely and then resold even more expensive. For example, a 20-year-old vintage port of good production now costs between 40 and 100 euros, which can be regarded as both a price for a beautiful life and an investment. After 30 years the cost of this wine will soar several times! Well, the young, “unpretentious” “Ruby” is a more than democratic drink, in Europe it can cost less than 10 euros. We have 12-15. What is the "snack"? Port wine - dessert wine and, therefore, as an accompaniment to the meal is no good. It is in itself a meal, and the most pleasant part of it, and in this sense, numerous citizens of the Soviet Union were “right” to drink it without any snack. It is possible - and even then only with certain varieties - only a light "entourage". Red port, especially Ruby, is quite compatible with desserts such as pastries. More refined - it is desirable to drink without any food in order to better taste. (To distinguish between all the taste tones is a special work, and even one glass is quite sufficient material. However, the word “glass” is not entirely appropriate here. For port wine there is its own classic glass, in shape very similar to glasses for red wine, only smaller. ) And yet, the British came up with one, and rather unexpected, “snack” for red port wine. It turned out that this drink is perfectly combined with cheeses with a noble mold. The British at the same time using their own, quite a certain kind of cheese - Stilton. However, it can be replaced by both the Roquefort and the Gorgonzola. White port wine is drunk heavily chilled at the very beginning of the meal as an aperitif.Wine elitealso beautiful. In the tasting rooms of wineries (in one of which I, like a British youth, but at a much more mature age, had a chance to taste the vintage of my year of birth), the entire color palette of ports is specially poured on white marble slabs. From pale straw (since there is also white port, it is made from white grapes using the same technology as Ruby) through golden fawn and dark Tony to ruby and pomegranate red. Today, British old firms such as Taylor’s, Graham’s, Dow’s, Cockburn’s and the already mentioned eternal Warre’s (by the way, the company of the German merchant Kopke also survived to this day, although partially lost its independence), still set the tone in the production of port wine. However, from the middle of the 18th century, Portuguese firms such as Ferreira, Fonseca, Calem began to join the elite of port wine producers. Experts tend, by the way, to distinguish between the styles of British and Portuguese manufacturers. Thus, it is believed that the British make Ruby and Vintage richer, darker and more fruity, but the Portuguese are strong in light and delicate wines, and above all they know how to make wonderful aged Tony. However, such rules are never without exceptions, and one of the best "Vintages" now, for example, is made by Champalimaud. Its owner, Miguel Montes Champalimo, comes from a family of winemakers known in the Douro Valley since the 13th century. True, he took up the production of port only 20 years ago. By the way, it was Miguel who turned out to be a pioneer in the new trend - his most famous port, Quinta do Cotto, is made from berries harvested from one vineyard, and is bottled not in Vila Nova de Gaia, but directly in his own winery. The wineries in the Douro Valley, albeit not so "star", can, in principle, be visited by every visitor. Many noble estates here have now been converted into hotels - the so-called pousadas. The ancient aristocratic setting, the cozy beauty of the landscape with green slopes and the river winding between the mountains, the silence, broken only by the sound of the wheels of the electric train from Porto passing by the very shore - this is how the native places of one of the sweetest, cutest and most soulful drinks in the world look like.