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This year, Vancouver International Wine Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary with feature countries Spain and Portugal. Just like previous years, I drank my way through the big tasting room. But this year my focus was on the Ports.

2018 Vancouver International Wine Festival

What is Port Wine?

Port Wine (“Vinho do Porto” in Portuguese) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in Portugal. It is a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine. Although you may find fortified wines outside Portugal (e.g. Vista D’oro makes an awesome walnut port-style wine), only the product from Portugal may be labelled as Port or Porto.

Through the tasting and in talking with the wine reps, I’ve learned about the different styles of port:

Ruby Port is the most extensively produced type. It’s usually stored in stainless steel tanks to prevent oxidation and preserve its bright red colour and full-bodied fruitiness.

Tawny Ports are aged in wooden barrels, exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. They turn into a golden-brown colour and the oxidation gives the wine nutty, caramel, and/or prune, raisin notes. If there isn’t any indication of age, it’s just a generalization that the wine has spent time in wooden barrels.

Late Bottled Vintage (often referred to simply as LBV) is typically bottled between four and six years after the vintage, with similar quality like a Vintage Port. If the LBV is filtered, it’s not meant to be aged.

Vintage Port is made entirely from grapes of the same vintage year. They may be aged in barrels for 2-3 years before bottling. You can drink it right away but it’s meant to be cellared for decades as it improves with age.

Here is what I tried:

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Before we took a brief break for our holiday in the Mediterranean, I was invited by Jelly Marketing to experience the Langley Passport Wine Route. It is a new program that encourages visitors to check out the seven wineries in Langley. Yes, there are indeed 7 wineries in Langley. I knew about 5 of them prior to this tour — in fact, I visited 3 of them just three years ago — so some were new to me and I was quite excited about visiting them. Especially after our wine getaway in Oliver this summer (see Part 1 and Part 2 here), I was keen to find out what’s available much closer to home.

Beginning of the Langley Passport tour

Beginning of the Langley Passport tour

The premise of the program is quite straightforward. You pick up a copy of the passport at any of the participating wineries or partner hotels in Langley, then you take your time to visit each winery, get a stamp after each visit, and then you will be entered into a draw for some great prizes. Don’t worry, you don’t have to visit them all on the same day, because that would be quite irresponsible to ask you to drink that much in one day. Well, we did on the tour, but we had the luxury of travelling on a coach bus.

First stop, Township 7. Manager Jason gave us a background on Township and explained each wine in detail. We tried 2 whites and 4 reds, including a barrel sample of the Black Dog, which is a wine club exclusive with limited availability (only 118 cases).

Wine tasting at Township 7

Wine tasting at Township 7

We also took a sneak peek at the new wine tasting room and new wine labels. (more…)

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