Using English terms on Port Wine bottles


The influence of the British culture on the Port Wine industry started some centuries ago when the first British merchants came to Portugal and set up their exporting business in Vila Nova de Gaia. Actually, the arrival of the British coincides with the origin of Port Wine itself. Not surprising, this fortified wine made in the Douro valley adopted the British nomenclature to classify the different types of Port Wine. Words like “vintage”, “ruby” or “20 year old tawny” sound better for a British than “vindima”, “vermelho” ou “aloirado de 20 anos de idade”. The only word that I know that is generally adopted to classify a type of Port Wine which is not in English is “Colheita”. Colheita is a Portuguese word that means “Harvest” is a Port Wine that aged for at least 7 years in barrel and is bottled not blended, with Port from a single harvest. So the year of the harvest will be on the label.

Few days ago I realized that “Colheita”, although being generally accepted to identify this type of Port Wine, is not mandatory to be written on the label. Only the year of the harvest need to be on the label, complemented, if wished, by English terminology. That is what Graham’s, other Port Wine producer, did when launched a 1961 Colheita Port. On the label you can see “1961 single harvest tawny Port”.

Quevedo Colheita 1992This seems like a clever option to identify a single harvest Port not using the hard and difficult to pronounce Portuguese word “Colheita”. I guess this becomes much easier for the big majority of the customers of this Port, which are non-Portuguese speakers. And as Portuguese are familiar with English terms, everyone should be happy with this solution.

Now you may ask, “Oscar, now that you know that you can use on the label of your Colheita Port an English term to define Colheita, are you planing to change your labels?” Well, there are some traditions that we must keep. I think we must continue using the same terms my parents were using before.

BTW, the Graham’s Colheita 1961 was recently launched by the Symington family, after selecting 3 casks from a total of 14 that the family has in its lodge. But please take a look on Graham’s blog to get more info about this Colheita 1961.


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  1. Michael Grisley Wednesday April 13th, 2011 | reply
    Oscar, I'm glad that Quevedo is keeping to tradition and will continue to label their Colheita ports as a "Colheita." I think if you remove that from the label, it takes away from the mystique and tradition that many people seek out when they purchase a Colheita port. At least in the US, I believe more and more people are accustomed to words like Colheita or Cosecha on Spanish wine labels as they purchase and drink more Portuguese and Spanish wines. For that reason, I don't feel it's necessary to anglicise your labels, if for nothing else, I think it makes people feel quite knowledgeable when they can bring a bottle of port to their friends house and use Portuguese words like Colheita!
  2. Andy Velebil Wednesday April 13th, 2011 | reply
    I agree with Michael.The term Colheita has been the accepted and used term on labels of single vintage Tawny Ports. To deviate from that now only adds to the confusion people have over the types of Port in general. After a few hundred years, isn't it time my friends in the UK finally learn one new word, I think so. I mean they seem to have no issues with VP, LBV, Crusting, Reserve Ruby, Tawny with an indication of age, and all the other terms used. So why is it so hard for them to understand one simple word...Colheita!
  3. Guglielmo Rocchiccioli Monday April 25th, 2011 | reply
    I would like to share the tasting notes and the pairing with food of a White Port. PORTO CÁLEM ESTD. 1859 - WHITE & DRY PORTO - VINHO DO PORTO - PRODUZIDO E ENGARRAFADO POR A.A. CÁLEM & FILHO. S.A. - VILA NOVA DE GAIA - PORTUGAL 20% Cálem White & Dry ages in oak casks and in inox vats. With tinges of green colour, it presents a floral and young bouquet. In the mouth is subdy dry, smooth and balanced. Ideal with starters and fruits. VISUAL ANALYSIS: amber yellow colour with orange tendencies. OLFACTORY ANALYSIS: the oxidation sensation is pleasantly present; the olfactory scene is painted of medlars, lemon jam, raisins, vanilla, toasted smell, curry, grass and white lilies. GUSTATIVE ANALYSIS: dense, intense and solid; we are chewing the lemon jam sensation and the final has the sweet touch given by the alcoholic grades; the wine points out its great structure and its impressive balance between the softness and the acidity in the form of salivation; the gustative persistency is swinging between 7 and 8 seconds. WINE-FOOD COMBINATION: sipping wine MY PERSONAL OPINION: a vehement and passionate wine, at the nose and the palate, which invites you to a meditation. Try to communicate with the olfactory-gustative sensations of this wine implies the knowledge of idioms of huge cultures and yet, it is not easy to catch the real meaning, due to the fact that its essence remains much higher than imaginable for an oenological product.

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