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Portugal has been making wine for thousands of years and wine became an important export since 1174, when the Kingdom of Portugal was established. With that came the sea trade commerce and the favourable position of country on the Atlantic Ocean, meant that it caught the attention of merchants, especially from England. In 1386 a treaty was signed between Portugal and England to establish a political and commercial alliance, which boosted this relationship. By the second half of the 15th century, a large amount of Portuguese wine was shipped to England often in exchange for salt cod, known as ‘Bacalhau’. But it wasn’t until two centuries later, in 1678 precisely, that the first records show this Portuguese wine being referred to as ‘Port’.
The Douro Valley in Portugal is divided into three broad areas: Baixo Corgo, Cima Corgo and Douro Superior. As a rule of thumb in the Douro, the further east the region lies, the drier the climate becomes and the deeper the wines. Although around 82 grape varieties (red and white) can be used in the production of Port, about 30 are recommended. Up until two decades ago, most winemakers were not even aware of all the grape varieties that made up their Port. Most modern vineyards are made up of a selection of 5 top red grape types now generally considered to produce the finest wines: Touriga Nacional, Tinta Baroca, Tinta Cao, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca.
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