Fonseca was founded in 1822 by Manuel Pedro Guimaraens, and though today the firm is owned by Fladgate, it is still run by a descendant of the founder, David Guimaraens. According to Robert M. Parker Jr., Fonseca matures slightly more rapidly than other Vintage Ports and Parker maintains that Fonseca has a unique character. “This is always the most flamboyant, exuberant, and exotic of Vintage Port, with a character that is completely different from that of its peers,” Parker says. With about 150 acres of vineyards planted in traditional Port grapes, including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cao and other, Fonseca produces 8,000-14,000 cases of Vintage Port a year. It also produces a Tawny, a white Port and non-vintage Ports.
Portugal is best known for its two legendary fortified wines, Port and Madeira, but it also produces significant amounts of red and white table wine. In most years it ranks around the 10th or 11th largest wine producer in the world. In 2013, for instance, Portugal was the 11th largest producer just after Germany. Wine has always been produced in Portugal and in fact the country was the first to organize an appellation system, which it did in 1756, nearly 200 years before the French set up their appellations. The highest quality wines are labeled D.O.C. for Denominaçào de Origem Controlada. Many of the most innovative winemakers today, however, are avoiding the appellation system, which they deem too stifling for modern winemaking practices. The Douro Valley is the nation’s most important wine producing region, and it is the capital of Port production. The Portuguese island of Madeira, located 400 miles west of Morocco, is the nation’s other famous wine region, having produced Madeira for export for more than 400 years. Many red and white wine grapes grow in Portugal, though the best known is Touriga Nacional, the red grape used for Port and, increasingly, high quality table wines. Touriga Nacional produces dark, tannic, fruity wines.