Taylor Fladgate is one of the Douro Valley’s most venerable Port producers, having purchased real estate there in the late 17th century. By the early 18th century the company was known as Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman, still its corporate name, and today it remains owned by descendants of the founders. Many consider Taylor-Fladgate the king of Ports, and Robert M. Parker Jr. has called it “the Chateau Latour of Vintage Ports.” The producer has nearly 450 acres of vineyards planted in the traditional Port grapes of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cao, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Amarela and others. The average age of the vines is 40 years. About 20,000 cases of Vintage Port are produced each year. Taylor-Fladgate also now owns Fonseca, Croft and Delaforce.
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.