Time to fortify

For Symington, the greatest challenge is the wines themselves. “The real challenge is ensuring the wines made in the region — Port and Douro DOC — match the demands of an increasingly competitive world market,” Charlotte Symington of Symington Estates says. 

Still wines will help this cause, according to Symington. “They will help make consumers more aware of what our region has to offer and the fact that wonderful still wines can be produced from the same region as port. We believe that this has and will have positive implications for the category as still wine from the Douro gets more and more recognition it deserves.”

Sylvia Bernard, Porto Cruz group international marketing director, says that the growth of Wines from Portugal, and from the Douro will have a great impact on port. “In the US, we have identified that the success of the wines from the Douro is a unique opportunity to relaunch the port market,” she says.  

It might have helped, but Fladgate’s Bridge says it is important that Douro table wine steps out of port’s shadow. “I think a lot of people are talking about Douro table wine. It has been the teenager supported by the parent: port. Table wine needs to come of age and that needs to happen if this region is going to have a sustainable future.”

The global port market has changed, but it would appear that port is up for the challenge. The niche category’s future might look set to get more niche, but don’t pass on the port yet.