- Touriga Nacional / Tinta Roriz / Tinta Barroca
- Case size
Founded over three hundred years ago, the House of Croft's first known activity dates from 1678 - the year of the first ever recorded shipments of Port wine. Originally known as Phayre Bradley after its founding partners and took its present name in 1736 when it was joined by John Croft, a member of an old family of Yorkshire wine merchants. John Croft was one of the leading figures of the Port business in the eighteenth century. The family returned to England in the nineteenth century, nevertheless the family maintained its affection for the fortified wines of the Douro and the late Percy Croft, who died in 1935, is credited with the famous words: "Any time not spent drinking Port is a waste of time." It is now owned and run by descendants of two old Port wine families, the Yeatmans and Fladgates. The place of distinction occupied by Croft and its wines is due in no small measure to its ownership of one of the finest estates of the Douro Valley, the famous Quinta da Roêda.
Port is made in the Cima Corgo, Baixo Corgo and Douro Superior districts of the Douro Valley in the north of Portugal. The summers are hot and dry and the climate becomes more continental as you move further east towards the upper Douro Valley. Here temperatures often exceed 40 degrees. The Douro Valley has steep hillsides with terraces, which is not only aesthetically pleasing but is also extremely useful for making quality wine. The schist soils aid in drainage and have become very important to port production, so much so that much of the Douro table wines have been relegated to granite soils. The six main grape varieties used for port production are Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, Touriga Francesa and Tinta Amarela. There are another 42 grape varieties that are permitted but these six are considered to be the noblest ones, each adding something different to the blend. After the harvest the grapes are trodden, often by foot but more often by machines, in giant lagars (troughs). Port is a fortified wine so during fermentation ‘brandy' (not actually brandy but a grape-distilled spirit) is added to increase thealcoholic strength to around 17-19 % abv. This leaves a sweet, red fortified wine with lots of vibrant fruit. There are many different types of Port from the Basic Ruby Ports, through to Tawny Ports and LBVs, to probably the most famous of all Vintage Port that can take 20 years to reach its peak. When mature, Vintage Port is a unique tasting experience with warm, concentrated spicy-fruit flavours and a superb length that just goes on and on.