All Churchill’s Ports and Douro wines are made only with Grade A grapes and produced exclusively with native grape varieties.
The IVDP is the official government body that rules the Port Wine business. The IVDP rates and classifies vineyards on an A-E scale, with A being the best level and E the worst.
Quintas are given numerical ratings on different criteria such as: vineyard location (microclimate); altitude; grape varieties; age and vineyard density; soil (schist or granite); productivity and vineyard maintenance. The A-E classification is then attributed depending on the total numerical rating.
All Churchill’s Port grapes are sourced from Grade A vineyards. When they arrive at the Churchill’s Port winery at Quinta da Gricha, they all receive the same Vintage Port treatment. This means that, after being carefully hand-selected on grape sorting tables, the grapes are then crushed and vinified in “lagares,” or traditional open granite fermentation tanks; here the grapes are foot-trodden in the time honoured fashion, still the most effective way of producing Vintage Port.
Foot-treading achieves a gentle but thorough maceration of the grapes and skins without damaging the pips and thereby extracts the necessary colour and tannins whilst still preserving the fresh, natural grape aromas and flavours.
At the end of the vintage, all Ports are tasted and classified. Depending on their quality, such as colour intensity, structure and pedigree, all Churchill’s Ports are classified into 3 category levels: Vintage, Late Bottled Vintage, and Reserve.
Churchill’s Tawny Ports are a natural evolution from these three categories.
Churchill’s Ports are made in the most traditional way, with minimal intervention and maximum respect for the natural grape conditions.
A key factor to Churchill’s dry style is the longer fermentation time. Longer fermentation means less added brandy, more natural alcohol, therefore, a more natural wine. Also, a longer fermentation gives the wine more structure.
The combination of foot-treading and a longer fermentation time ensures that all Churchill’s Ports are drier and well structured, a unique Churchill’s characteristic. A good structure, along with good natural acidity, is a key element to ensuring excellent ageing potential.
Churchill’s Tawny Port philosophy: “never let the wood dominate the natural fruit and freshness of the Port.”
The older the Tawny, the better should be the Port. An old Tawny Port needs to start its life as a powerful, full-bodied Port to withstand the oxidation it will receive from ageing in wood over many years.
Churchill’s 20 and 30 Year Old Tawny Ports are blended from the highest category level, Vintage, whilst a 10 Year Old Port such as Churchill’s 10 Year Old Tawny can be blended from the LBV level.
All Churchill’s Tawny Ports are partly aged in large oak vats before finishing their maturation in small port pipes (600 litre seasoned oak casks). As a result they receive less oxidation and suffer less colour loss. It is the combination of these factors that differentiates Churchill’s Tawny Ports from the competition. They tend to be drier, well-structured and darker in colour with fresh fruit flavours dominating the nutty, more wood-aged characteristics.