Garrafeira Port is one of the rarest styles of this otherwise familiar Portuguese fortified wine.
Garrafeira is made from grapes from a single year, but the production method is distinct. The fortified red undergoes three to six years of aging in wood, oxidating, and losing some color. It is then transferred to glass demijohns and sealed with a cork.
This second period of aging is in a more reductive environment. A unique character "cheiro has garrafa" (the essence of the bottle) is derived from direct contact with the glass. The demijohns known as bon-bons vary from 7 to 11 liters (1.85 to 2.9 US gallons). This maturation lasts several decades before transfer to a bottle, and there may be several years spent in a bottle before release.
This is a bottle from an era before odium hit the vineyards and the Douro suffered in the 1850s. Hardly recovered from this blow, when along came phylloxera, which devastated port production from 1868 till the 1880s. This port represents one of the oldest remaining port vintages until there are no more. B.L.