A Year in Port

Promotional copy written for a 90-min documentary film on the Champagne region of France and select winemakers, released 2016 by Samuel Goldwyn Films, created by InCA Productions. Publicity and promotions by Polished Brands. *Nominated for a 2107 James Beard Award, Best Documentary

 

Time. In modern life, it has become the greatest luxury. Yet no great Port exists without it. It is written into the wine as fundamentally as sun and rain.

To make Port, you need old native vines that produce a multitude of flavors from their perch on the steep hillsides. Then you need vineyard workers who know the old songs, who pick the grapes and stomp them with their bare feet in great stone tanks in the same rhythm that their ancestors tread. You need barrels and dark apothecary jars filled with wines made throughout the last century to enrich your blend. And then you must be prepared to wait.

With renowned wine importer Martine Saunier as our guide, we journey into the world of Port with four venerable producers: Symington Family Estates, Taylor Fladgate, Ramos Pinto and Niepoort.

The story of the Douro Valley in northeast Portugal reaches back into the Paleolithic. Stone engravings bear testament to people making their home in these hills for the last 50,000 years. While the native roots of viniculture run deep, the modern Port trade got its start nearly 400 years ago, and the British have had a hand in shaping it ever since.

While many think of Port as a drink for old men in the halls of power, it’s not all cricket and a rousing chorus of Rule Britannia — although there’s certainly plenty of that. In Oporto and up in the Douro, we find Port’s more sensual side, with traditional folk songs and dancing on the grapes after harvest, to Saint’s Day festivals that keep people carousing in the streets all night.

We explore the mysteries of the vineyard, which may hold the key to the region’s future through the rise of new table wines. There are more than 400 native grape varieties, sometimes 30 or more varietals mixed together in the same vineyard.

We enter the world of the Master Blender, who reaches back through the years, sometimes more than a century of wine, to find just the right note for the blend.

Join us as we explore the tangle of time that is Port, where the wines of the past continue to flavor the wines of tomorrow. And as in the vineyards, finding the Douro’s future may lie in decoding the messages from its past.