Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port is a type of Port that is bottled later than traditional Vintage Port, and has gained immense popularity over the years. These Ports are made from a single vintage and aged in oak barrels for four to six years before being bottled. This extended aging gives the wine a unique character and flavor, making it a favorite among Port lovers. In this article, we will take a closer look at the history, production process, flavor profile, and awards of LBV Port wines.
The history of LBV Port dates back to the 1960s when the demand for Vintage Port exceeded the supply. As a result, Port producers began experimenting with new methods of aging Port to meet the increasing demand. One of the methods that gained popularity was the aging of Port for a longer period in oak barrels before bottling. This technique allowed the wine to develop a softer and smoother texture, making it more approachable for immediate consumption.
In 1970, the Port Wine Institute (IVDP) established a set of rules and regulations for the production of LBV Port, which included the aging period and bottling requirements. These regulations have since been revised, and the current rules state that LBV Port must be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of four years and a maximum of six years before bottling.
The production process for LBV Port is similar to that of Vintage Port, with a few key differences. The grapes used for LBV Port are grown in a single vintage and harvested by hand. They are then crushed and fermented in traditional granite lagares or stainless steel tanks. The fermentation process is stopped by adding grape spirit, which raises the alcohol level to around 20%.
After fermentation, the wine is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of four years and a maximum of six years, depending on the producer’s preference. During this time, the wine undergoes a slow oxidation process, which gives it a darker color and a softer texture.
Before bottling, the wine is filtered and fined to remove any sediment and ensure clarity. It is then bottled and left to mature in the bottle for a minimum of three years before being released for sale.
LBV Port wines are known for their smooth and velvety texture, which is a result of the extended aging in oak barrels. They have a rich, complex flavor profile, with notes of black fruits, dark chocolate, and spices. The tannins in LBV Port wines are well-integrated, giving them a balanced and elegant structure.
LBV Port wines are also characterized by their long and persistent finish, with a hint of sweetness that lingers on the palate. This sweetness is not overpowering, but rather adds to the wine’s complexity and depth.
LBV Port wines have received numerous awards and accolades over the years, making them one of the most highly regarded Port styles. Many of the top Port producers, including Graham’s, Taylor’s, and Dow’s, produce LBV Port wines that have won multiple awards at international wine competitions.
In 2021, the Symington Family Estates, one of the leading Port producers in Portugal, won the International Wine Challenge (IWC) Fortified Wine Producer of the Year award for their range of LBV Ports. The IWC is one of the most prestigious wine competitions in the world and recognizes excellence in winemaking across all categories.
LBV Port wines are a unique and highly regarded style of Port that has gained immense popularity over the years. Their extended aging in oak barrels gives them a smooth and velvety texture, while their rich and complex flavor profile makes them a favorite among Port lovers. With their numerous awards and accolades, LBV Port wines are a testament to the skill and dedication.