Warre's Traditional Late Bottled Vintage 2008
Carefully selected from the finest wines of a very good year, this port is aged in oak casks for 4 years before being bottled without fining or filtration. This ensures that, as with Vintage Port, the fruit concentration is retained.
Once bottled, Warre's Traditional Late Bottled Vintage Port is left to mature for a further 5 years in Warre's own cellars before being offered for sale. It is this prolonged ageing in its own bottle that gives this particular LBV so much outstanding style and complexity.
Around 1670, the year in which Warre's was established, an embargo was levied on French wines as a result of the deteriorating relationship between France and England. The founders of Warre's settled in Northern Portugal in the town of Viana do Castelo at the mouth of the River Lima. They traded English woollen goods and dried cod in return for the produce of the Minho district and beyond, primarily wine.
War in 1689 created additional demand for Portuguese wines, which forced many Oporto merchants including Warre to explore the Douro region, an area known for its big black tannic wines.
The Methuen Treaty was signed in 1703 confirming that England would defend Portugal in the war of Spanish succession. Preferential treatment for English textiles was also agreed in return for a duty on Portuguese wines that was a third less than that levied on France.
Access to the Douro region remained difficult as there were no roads over the mountains and the river was prone to severe flooding. The quality of the wines gradually improved. The wines, which were being fermented to dryness, were largely austere and very dark in colour.
Although the first apparent evidence of fortification occurred in a monastery in Lamego in 1678, most merchants did not add brandy to the wine before the 18th century and even then it was only used in an attempt to ensure that wine arrived at its destination in good condition.
In 1729, the first member of the Warre family arrived in Oporto. William Warre was born in 1706 at Fort St. George in Madras in India. He became a partner in the firm and henceforth it was known as Messrs Clarke, Thornton and Warre. William Warre was the first British resident to acquire land in Vila Nova da Gaia, across the river from Oporto, later to become the centre for the port companies' lodges and administrative offices.
During that time the Douro region suffered a period of over-production, which brought on a slump in the trade and a dramatic fall in prices. The Marques de Pombal, Prime Minister at the time, stepped in in 1756 to safeguard the livelihood of the Douro growers. Pombal created the Real Companhia, a virtual state monopoly, which excluded the English shippers. This action was followed by a bloody riot in the streets of Oporto known as the 'Tipplers Revolt' which was largely blamed on the British.
Despite this revolt a series of measures were implemented to regulate the production of Port including the drawing up of a boundary around the region, restricting Port production to vineyards within it. The Real Companhia eventually lost its monopoly in 1777 when Maria I succeeded the Portuguese throne and Pombal was dismissed.
The wine growing region at that time was centred around Regua and did not extend much beyond PinhÆo, with the exception of Quinta do Roriz which was leased to a religious order. Interestingly, over 200 hundred years later the current owners of Warre's Port, the Symington Family, agreed to enter into a joint venture on Quinta do Roriz to market a Vintage Port and a table wine.
The Port trade saw another period of expansion during the second half of the 18th century, largely as a result of the development of the bottle. As the shape became more cylindrical, it became possible to cellar the bottles on their sides.
The British merchants by that time had established themselves in Oporto with a hospital, school, club and the Factory House which represented perhaps the core of the British Port trade. This building was initiated and designed by John Whitehead, whose sister Elisabeth married William Warre in 1745. Whitehead was the Consul in Oporto and one of the leading figures in the British community at that time.
During the first part of the 19th century, Oporto was rocked by invasion and rebellion with the French marching into the city in 1809. They were repelled by British forces lead by Sir Arthur Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) three months later. The Peninsula War continued until 1811 and during that time the Duke and his officers drank the local wine and were well supplied with Port.
William Warre, the nephew of the senior partner in Warre & Co, joined the British army in 1803 and was drafted in to support the forces in Portugal five years later. He pursued a very successful career reaching the rank of Lieutenant-General, was knighted for his outstanding service to both Britain and Portugal in 1839 and was decorated by the King of Portugal with the Orders of Torre and Espada and the order of S.Bento d'Avis. In one of his letters to his father written during the Peninsula War, he mentioned that the Duke of Wellington was a keen Port drinker and often ordered Warre's Port during the campaigns.
The Port trade flourished during the mid-19th century with production reaching about 100,000 pipes, of which 25% was exported to Britain. All levels of society drank the wine either young or old and often mulled. The practice of 'declaring' wines of exceptional years began at that time. The auction houses then began to trade these wines, which gained a particular character if left to age in the bottle.
The fungal infection Oidium was first detected in the Douro in 1848 and quickly began to have a significant impact on the quality of the wines. Worse followed in the 1870s when signs of a far more devastating disease, the parasitic Phylloxera, began to emerge. This resulted in many vineyards simply being abandoned.
Replanting of the vineyards with American rootstock began in earnest in 1883. The Port trade then enjoyed another period of encouraging results - by that time Brazil had become an important market with sales of over 20,000 pipes. This strengthened the financial position of some shippers. One such entrepreneur was George Acheson Warre, who at the time was the wine maker at Silva & Cosens (Dow's Port). He bought three important properties and was perhaps one of the first Port shippers to purchase land in the Douro.
During this period, Andrew James Symington was admitted into partnership in the firm of Warre & Co having arrived from Scotland in 1882 and worked alongside the existing members of the Warre family.
Today, the Symington family are at the forefront of running Warre's Port House.