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Call for greater Port/table-wine distinction

Published:  23 July, 2008

The head winemaker of Port producer The Fladgate Partnership has criticised the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP) for failing to tighten up vineyard designations in the Douro Valley, reports Stuart Peskett.

David Guimaraens said that the rules should be changed

so that vineyard owners would have to designate their vineyards as either Port or Douro wine. He told Harpers: The viticulture and the winemaking are different for Port and Douro wine. It is fundamental that the region now recognises this and forces the vineyard owners/wineries to identify each vineyard as to whether it wants to produce Port or Douro.'

Guimaraens added that the irrigation plea from many table-wine producers confused the issue further. I've got no problems with table-wine producers irrigating, but I do with Port producers. We haven't had irrigation in the Douro for 300 years. Picking dates are different, so how is it that the same vineyards can get the same authorisations? It's corrupting the system, and it drives me livid.'

The Fladgate Partnership owns Taylor's, Fonseca, Croft, and Delaforce Port houses but has never produced table wine - and CEO Adrian Bridge says that that is not about to change.

He said: Has Port got a future? Yes, it's growing. If there was an excess of top-quality grapes in the Douro, that might make a difference, but there isn't. And this year, yields are down 20%.

If we've used all our best grapes to make Port, then it stands to reason that we would only be using second-rate grapes, and that is not an option. Also, there's hardly a global shortage of wine at the moment. Put all that together, and there's your answer.'