This was a feat: installing a 7000 Liter tank with 3 cm on either side of the cellar’s entrance to spare! The actual endeavor was close to a miracle, and we thank our lucky stars that we got the tank into the aging cellar, intact and without dismantling! As you may know, in addition to the port and wine business, Vincent is also involved in the barrel business. New and reconditioned oak tanks and barrels, mainly French, are an integral part of our port and wine’s quality. Some of the larger tanks arrive disassembled, to be rebuilt inside the aging cellars by Vincent, Jorge and the quinta team. We took our chances with this one, as you can see in the photo.
Which of our ports age in the 7000 Liter tanks? Ruby for a couple of years with different lots blended afterwards and Vintage for 18 months to 2 years. Why such a big aging vessel? We age with slow micro-oxidation, that softens the tannins yet saves the fruit and color, due to minimal contact between the Port and the wood. This particular tank is from the prestigious French Troncais forest, and is an old reconditioned Cognac tank. Our Quinta do Tedo policy is to have all ports foot treaded and aged in wood, for shorter or longer periods. The Ruby is ready to enjoy after bottling, ad the Vintage generally is to lay down for further bottle aging.
In contrast, our Tawny and LBV spend longer periods of time in smaller barrels varying in size from 225L – 550L. The Tawny ages up to 8 years and the LBV up to 6 years. The focus is to accelerate micro-oxidation and concentration of aroma and sugar: smaller volume = more contact with wood, so that the fruit and tannins soften faster. After bottling they are pronto for enjoying, but can also continue to age, especially the LBV.
My next blog will talk about the wood that we use for aging at the quinta, a fascinating subject, especially because Vincent is so full of information after 30+ years of consulting internationally in the barrel business!