Does port need a boost?

The answer is probably yes. Many sweet wines are struggling on the market today. (Excepting of course those table wines that are sold as “dry” but which contain a substantial amount of sugar, sometimes well above 10 grams per litre.)

Port is one of the great classic wines, one of the first wines in history to gain an international reputation, and one of the few wine regions that I could find a good selection of in Sweden when I started with wine in the late 70s (believe it or not).

But today it is struggling to find a market outside the classic masculine smoking room that exists no more.

Maybe port needs to become more trendy and modern?

Maybe there should be a white version? (White port exists since a long time back…)

Maybe they should launch port rosé to ride the rosé wave? (They did that a few years back actually…)

Maybe port can be launched as a drink mixer? (Old news… Have you not heard of port tonic? Delicious, by the way.)

And yet, it is difficult to sell sweet wines, port and others, today…

Port tonic overlooking Porto and the Douro River

Port tonic overlooking Porto and the Douro River, copyright BKWine Photography

Masters of Port

One effort to raise the profile of port is a French idea of a port competition for sommeliers called the “Master of Port”. Young French sommeliers compete in the art of tasting port and knowing about port. Eleven sommeliers have just been selected in a qualification round to compete in the final that will take place in October in Paris when the winner of the 17th Master of Port trophy will be named.

One of the Master of Port contestants

One of the Master of Port contestants, copyright Jean Bernard/Master of Port

Here is the list of the people that will compete:

  • Gaëtan Bouvier / La Villa Florentine ( 69 – Lyon)
  • Régis Gabillard / Les Caves De Joseph (35 – Rennes)
  • Jean Baptiste Klein / Le Chambard (68 – Kaysersberg)
  • Melissa Lezin / Logis Hotel Le Pont Bernet (33 – Le Pïan Médoc)
  • Micaël Morais /Tomy And Co (75 – Paris 7e)
  • Yohan Nguyen / Villa René Lalique (67 – Wingen-Sur-Moder)
  • Tristan Ringenbach / La Cave Triovino (69 – Lyon)
  • Yann Satin / Hôtel Barrière Le Westminster (62 – Le Touquet Paris Plage)
  • Julia Scavo / Le Milord C (06 – Beaulieu-Sur-Mer)
  • Lionel Schneider / Ritz Paris (75 – Paris 2e)
  • Frédéric Woelfflé / Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo (98 – Monaco)

Congratulations to having qualified!

I can understand that this is happening in France. France is claimed to be the biggest market for port, believe it or not! On the other hand, it is a market that seems to be focussing on the lowest qualities of port.

Master of Port candidates

Master of Port candidates, copyright Jean Bernard/Master of Port

What would probably contribute greatly to the development of port in France is, I think, is if France stopped drinking port as an aperitif (as an alternative to pastis or whisky). That’s when anonymous basic level rubies are consumed.

Instead France should be taking this sophisticated wine more seriously and promote it with cheese, with desert, or instead of desert (!), or as an end-of-dinner drink. Or simply to be enjoyed on its own. For example the absolutely fabulous old aged tawnies, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, or even 40! (Not that they are cheap when they get older, but it’s worth it.)

Taylor's Tawny 40 years, 30, 20, and 10

Taylor’s Tawny 40 years, 30, 20, and 10, copyright M Lindelow

Or alternatively, promote it in its more trendy applications, for example as a drink mixer or even simply on ice.

A tepid glass of cloying base-level ruby before dinner will not make many friends today.

That’s perhaps something that can help on other markets too.

Hopefully the winner of the Master of Port trophy will be awarded with a trip to the Douro Valley which is a magical place, certainly for its wines but also for its extraordinary landscape.

If you yourself want to explore the Douro valley and its magnificent sweet ports and delicious table wines you can come on a wine tour to the Douro Valley with BKWine.

Travel to the world’s wine regions with the experts on wine and the specialist on wine tours.

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View over the Douro Valley from Quinta do Noval

View over the Douro Valley from Quinta do Noval, copyright BKWine Photography

Vats and port pipes in a cellar in Vila Nova de Gaia, Douro

Vats and port pipes in a cellar in Vila Nova de Gaia, Douro, copyright BKWine Photography

Douro River, Vila Nova de Gaia and Na Sra da Serra do Pilar

Douro River, Vila Nova de Gaia and Na Sra da Serra do Pilar, copyright BKWine Photography

Quinta do Noval Black, ruby port

Quinta do Noval Black, ruby port, copyright BKWine Photography

Warre's Vintage Port 1983

Warre’s Vintage Port 1983, copyright BKWine Photography

Vineyards, Quinta da Gaivosa, Douro, Portugal

Vineyards, Quinta da Gaivosa, Douro, Portugal, copyright BKWine Photography


This post is also available in: Swedish

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2 Responses to Does port need a boost?

  1. Radek May 17, 2017 at 10:08 #

    In our country the market is flooded with low quality overpriced Port with alcohol which is not well integrated. Maybe it would also help to distinguish high quality products somehow. Sadly, the best Port I’ve had in the last year has been a NZ made one.

    • Per Karlsson May 17, 2017 at 10:18 #

      Agree. There’s a lot of uninteresting port out there. One can only assume there’s a market for it, but it is not very inspiring.

      The good one from NZ could hardly have been sold within the European Union. Port is a protected name in the EU… (as well as in some other countries through trade agreements)

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