Ruby port derives its name from the wonderful ruby red colour of the immature port. A ruby port is aged for at least three years in wooden casks and then immediately bottled. The taste is full, rounded, and above all fruity.
This is a blend of different vintages of about four years old and more. The colour is intense, the taste very full in flavour, and very complex. The quality is always superb and often approaches that of the best vintage ports. The price though for the quality is relatively low.
This type of port acquires its tawny colouring through a long period of cask maturing at least five years) . The taste is full and smooth with herbal and nutty undertones. It is worth remembering that good tawny port cannot be cheap and that cheap ones are therefore blends of cheaper ruby and white ports.
AGED TAWNY Porto
Some high quality tawny ports are cask aged for longer periods. These can be recognised by the indication of age on the label: 10 years old, 20 years old, 30 years old, over 40 years old. The age given is the average age of the ports use in creating the blend which is then bottled immediately after blending.
Colheita (pronounced kol-ye-ta) means harvest in Portuguese. Colheita relates to tawny ports and indicates that in contrast to other tawny ports, which are a blend of several vintages, this type is a single vintage port.
The port must be cask aged for at least seven years and the year of the vintage is indicated on the bottle.
LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE (L.B.V.)
This wine has been aged in casks for five or six years and is more full bodied and complex than most ruby ports, though it does not achieve the quality of vintage ports. This port has two advantages; unlike vintage port this type can be drunk immediately and the price is much less than for a vintage port.
This port, which is blended from several vintages, is bottled without filtration. The wine must have been bottled for at least four years before being sold. The wine sediments form a crust on the inside of the bottle of this wine, which is dark, rich, full-bodied and requires to be decanted before drinking.
The better ruby ports from an exceptional year are bottled after two years maturing in the cask. The capture of the young fruity taste and superb ruby colouring is thereby guaranteed. A vintage port needs at least ten years to develop fully but can happily be kept for decades. A true vintage port should not be opened in under 30 years.
There is a clear difference between the so-called Portuguese vintage port (Ramos-Pinto, Royal Oporto, Rainha Santa) and English vintage port (Croft, Offley, Taylor, Osborne, Sandeman, Graham, Warres, Dow).
Portuguese vintage port seems generally more readily accessible than English vintage port.
SINGLE QUINTA VINTAGE PORTO
In those years in which not all wine can be declared a vintage, wines from a single vineyard may still be declared a vintage year. This wine is always of exceptional quality. Some houses also make single quinta vintage port in years when an overall vintage is declared.