Portugal, Oporto, Port... It makes sense that Port comes from Oporto in Portugal.
Along time ago in a country on the opposite side of the world from Oceania, the Prime Minister of Portugal did what hadn't been done anywhere else at that time. He regionalised the country and stated that only certain areas could grow certain grapes and only produce certain types of wines. In Portugal wines are classified by region rather than the shiraz, merlot etc that I was used to in NZ and OZ.
The area's surrounding the Douro were slated as Port producing region. Due to the fact that the ground was made up of solid rock, which would get heat from the sun during the day and then keep the roots of the vines warm at night, thus creating a stable temperature, which was ideal for port grape producing vines.
I'm doing this all from over month old memories so there might be some sligh in accuracies.
The Port process starts the same as wine, but after 3-4 days into the fermentation process, brandy/cognac is introduced to stop the fermentation.
This is where the memories are starting to get flakey, I'll have to come back and fix this up one day...
But there are two differnt types of maturation, one happens to the port when it is stored in wodden casks and the happens whilst in the bottle. There are two names for this...
Special reserve Port is matured in casks, and is only given that name when apporved by some Port board. The ports that aren't given that title are then used to create blends.
We went to the south bank of the Douro and visited several of the caves, did their tour and tasted free port... Offley Forrester is only label (I want to say vineyard) which is locally owned, although originally (like most) started off by the British.
I deffinitely had a greater appreciation for port after doing a couple of tours... and tastings :)