Fortified Porto Portugal Tastings — 24 February 2014


Every parent, from the moment they set eyes on their first child, yearns to leave a legacy. I don’t imagine that history would show anything else and I don’t imagine that the future will either. No, when I look at my daughter, I too feel the pull; the tug at my heart to create something that will stand-up to time.

porto-and-duoro.jpgDona Antonia Ferreira did just that. In the 1800′s, in a time when women weren’t allowed to vote and the “Rule of Thumb” meant a man could beat his wife with a stick as long as it wasn’t wider then his thumb (that’s a fact), this brave soul bucked traditional, reversed roles, and took the reins of her family business. She had been left a widow at age 33, had a young daughter to look in the eyes, and had a legacy already of four generations of family owned, family run wine in the Duoro region of Portugal.

Antonia took that legacy on a journey that has lasted centuries and shows every intention of lasting centuries more.

She built roads, cared for the workers, expanded vineyards, fought the dreaded phylloxera and traveled throughout Europe to find ways to save her crops. In short, Antonia lived for more then just herself. She came from money but her father had squandered much of the family fortune by the time Antonia took control of what became one of the most influential Port houses in the world.

So she rebuilt it. To what extent?

Dona Antonia’s daughter, Maria, eventually became the  Countess de Azambuja. Amazing for a woman who could legally be beaten by her husband and had only the shakiest of legal principles to own her family business rather then see it go to an uncle or male cousin.

And the wine? As always my friends, the proof is in the glass:

Ferreira 1991 LBV Porto

91+ points


Ferreira 1991 LBV Porto (Port)

Visual:   clear; full intense garnet core, slight cherry rim

Nose:   clean; medium+ to fully intense developing aromas of dried blueberry, stewed blackberries, fresh black raspberries and Saksatoons, woodsy tones, savory herbs and tomato leaf, dark tea

Palate:   clean; sweet, medium+ crisp strawberry acid, medium+ chalky/chewy tannin, medium+ to full bodied, medium+ alcohol (20.5% ABV), fully intense developing flavors that are perfectly in-line with the aromas; bright red and black berry acids hit the palate full-speed and are followed by a plethora of herbaceous/floral tones… well-integrated oak follows with some dark cocoa notes. Very good balance, excellent structure and medium+ to long length; keeps developing up to 20 seconds

Conclusion:   a joy to drink now, but can be cellared for decades. Enjoy 2013-2023++

Food Pairing:   the high sugar level in this fortified wine cry out for balance! Consider then Roquefort infused croque-en-bouche with almond caramel, edible orchid garnish…. The savory tones of the cheese are a tried-and-true counterpart to Port’s naturally heavy fruit-induced sugar rush

Dona Antonia couldn’t have known how far her quest to ensure her daughter’s prosperity would take her family brand. The name Ferreira is synonymous with unwavering quality and brilliant value. The new head of the winemaking team, Luis Sottomayor, took up the mantle of command in 2003 and has since been nominated as the best winemaker in Portugal twice.

In December 2013, Ferreira port was also voted by Wine Spectator into the prestigious TOP 100 list for the year as well as receiving the highest scores per category for several of its fortified wines.

And what does all of this mean for you?

Value. Plain and simple. Here is a brilliant quality LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) which is considered to be inferior quality to a recognized Vintage Port. And yet, it has aged gracefully for 20 years and could have lived for many more had I the patience. It is not every port-house that can boast the same skill… under promise, over deliver – the creed of great business people the world over and obviously an unspoken mantra in the halls and on the slopes of Ferreira Porto.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts, comments and questions. Here, or:
on Twitter @AStudentofWine

About Author


Kristof Gillese: trained chef, certified wine steward, journalist and proud father. In these articles it is the human story that takes priority: to tell the tale of common people accomplishing uncommon goals. In the world of wine these tales are prolific. It has been Chef Kristofs privilege to have worked with luminaries such as Pierre-Henry Gagey of Maison Jadot, Nik Weis of St Urbans-Hof, Ray Signorello of Signorello Estates and Ezra Cipes of Summerhill Pyramid Winery; leaders in the industry. With almost 3 decades of experience working with the synergy between food and wine, Chef Kristof is proud to share the stories of these amazing stewards of the land. These articles are written with a profound reverence for the family aspect to winery culture as, to this writers understanding, nothing has ever had a more far-reaching effect than the love and devotion for a parent to a child. All great wineries are built by parents for their children and it is because of this that Chef Kristof writes.
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