The elusive green ruby: Fonseca organic port

At a press event last week in New York City, the Fladgate Partnership announced a first for Portugal: organic port.

David Fonseca Guimaraens told the assembled group that the vineyard had been farmed organically since 1992. Since port is made by fortifying fermenting wine with the addition of a distilled spirit (brandy), the breakthrough for this new port was finding an organic distilled spirit. This paves the way for organic labeling in Europe as certified by Socert.

Guimaraens said that the port would not be labeled as organic in the United States but instead “made with organically grown grapes.” Even though sulfites naturally occur in wine, adding sulfites, as Fonseca does, prevents the producer from calling it “organic” in America.

The port, with a ruby hue, has aromas of dark cherries and blackberries with a hint of the 20 percent alcohol. The mouth feel is pleasantly balanced between sweet and acid as well as being luscious–thanks to the advances in automated crushing, no doubt, since it is piston fermented–and the finish long and sweet. It’s the equivalent of a premium ruby port, Guimaraens said.

But does it taste any different? Or is it any better for you? Guimaraens said that the organic distillate that was added had more fruity notes than the non-organic one but that may also have to do with a different source the of raw materials. As far as the health effects, Guimaraens said that the residues of any fertilizer or pesticide are non-existent. But it makes a difference for labor, since he said that organic viticulture has a “much greater benefit to vineyard workers.”

Available on the US market in June, the Terra Bella port will retail for $22. I’ll be looking to pick some up. (search for retailers)

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9 Responses to “The elusive green ruby: Fonseca organic port”

  1. […] Portugal debuts first organic port (Dr. Vino) […]

  2. We inform that the first organic Port wine, already comercialized in U.S. is Casal dos Jordoes-Tawny and Casal dos Jordoes-Reserve (finest).
    The Tawny is sell in Colorado by Organic Vintners, 1628 Walnut Street, Boulder CO 80302
    Tel. 303 245-8773 Fax: 303 245-8911
    TheFinest Reserve is sell in California by Organic Wine Company, 1592 Union Street ste.350 san Francisco CA 94123

  3. Thanks for letting us know, Pinto e Cruz. Does this one use an organic spirit as well? And do they add sulfites?


  4. Our organic wines (Port and Table) produced in
    Casal dos Jordões

    Casal dos Jordões is a vineyard exploration since 1870 and ever sold the wines in bulk to Sandeman & Cª
    In 1994 begin to make the organic agriculture and the commercialisation of the one part of the production, that is placed in bottle and sold directly. The other part continue to be sold to Sandeman & Cª, now Sogrape S.A.
    We have more than 40 hectares of vineyards and we are making the restore of the old vines.
    These are situated in the valley of the river Torto – São João da Pesqueira in the centre of the Delimited Douro Region at an altitude of between 90 and 350 metres. It’s schistose soil with a slope of between 15 and 25 degrees.
    The predominant red grape varieties are the following (in decreasing order): Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca , Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão and Souzão and yet a little quantity of white grapes of varieties Malvasia Fina and Gouveio.
    Our exploration is a family company owned by the Jordão Family and the great quality wines are made in presses (lagares), ancient system to extract more colour and tannins.
    Several medals were attributed to our wines in National and International Competitions. Since 1998 into 2004 inclusive they are 103, with 69 of Gold and Silver. In 2005 they are 49, with 36 of Gold and Silver.
    More three awards were attributed at our enterprise – Casal dos Jordões:
    In 2002 and 2006 the award GOLD and PLATINUM “Arch of Europe” for Quality and Technology by B.I.D. – Business Initiative Directions in Frankfurt – Germany , and Gold Medal for the quality in 2003 by Wine Magazine “Alles Über Wein” with recommendation to the consumers.
    We produce Port Wines of following categories:
    Vintage, Tawny 10 years, Reserve (Finest), Ruby (Fine), Tawny and White
    In DOC Douro we produce Wines with mixed grapes and varietals.
    We also produce Olive Oil
    Our Winemaker is Mr. José Pinheiro (Engineer)
    We are inserted in the Port Wine Route

  5. Thank you for your question.
    The organic spirit I don’t know. If you can inform me where is sell I am very grateful for the information.
    But, spirit with distillation and rectification (they have practically two distillations) I think not remain in the spirit any pernicious residuum.
    However, I insist with you, if you know one distillery in the world that make organic spirit certified by an organism de control, please tell me the name and address.
    Sulphites we not apply on the wine (the alcohol is sufficient for the conservation), but the grapes are disinfected before fermentation to clean any possible infection of bacteria in the grapes.
    We are very glad and grateful if you can taste our Vintage 2004, Tawny 10 years or other wine, but it’s very difficult send wine bottles for USA. If you know any possibility to send that please tell me.
    Thank you for your patience and amiability to our considerations.
    Pinto e Cruz

  6. The comments of Pinto e Cruz suggest that they are making a port from organically grown grapes which is different from what we are doing at Fonseca. Although we were making port from organically grapes until 3 years ago when we switched to 100% organic by sourcing a certified organic spirit. This is expensive and difficult to come by as it requires certified organic wine to be distilled under the control of a certifing body. As it took us nearly four years to obtain this spirit, and we have entered into an exclusivity agreement with the supplier, we are not in a position to share the information.

    Adrian Bridge, Managing Director, Fonseca Port

  7. […] from the fact that it is difficult to legally call a wine organic (because of the addition of sulfites), what are “superior […]

  8. There are a number of organic spirits produced in the USA. One of the finest among them is Square One Vodka:

    p.s. Boutique wines proudly distributes Casal dos Jordões port in New Mexico!

  9. I drink casal dos jourdoes (in fact I’m drinking some right now) and can tell you it’s lovely!
    Well worth trying for yourself.


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