Port: Steady as she goes

Port, particularly white port, and tonic is probably a better path to follow, particularly bearing in mind the incredible current interest in gin and tonic.

Andrew Hawes, managing director of Mentzendorff, says: “We will continue to focus on the development of Taylor’s Chip Dry white port, emphasising its mixability with different styles of quality tonic water, something that the consumer has grown accustomed to via the boom in gin.

“We are also planning further initiatives inspired by the rich history and traditions of port,” says Hawes.

Symington rejoins: “Over the summer white port experienced a renaissance, becoming the ‘drink of the moment’, growing hugely in popularity. Sales of Cockburn’s until July 18 of this year were up by 351% compared to the same period last year, while Graham’s grew by 113% over the same period.”

There are also the lighter tawny ports, which can be served chilled and could hold appeal for more discerning young palates looking for something more sophisticated to be seen sipping. Symington points out that tawny ports have shown an extraordinary increase in demand since 2010, with worldwide sales of these wines having grown by €21.3m over the past seven years (Port Wine Institute total world sales 2010-2017).

Here comes the plug: “The Symington family holds what is almost certainly the largest stock of port ageing in seasoned oak wood in existence, amounting to 16,855 casks, and the equivalent of a further 29,370 casks held in larger oak tonels and vats,” claims Symington.

Constance Descamps, international senior brand manager for La Martiniquaise brand Porto Cruz, tells DI: “We can’t really talk about innovation in port. The novelty is more in the experience, in the way we can enjoy it differently, and it’s what we did with our Cruz Fresco campaign.

“This campaign – modern and original – has been done in mature Cruz markets such as Portugal, France and Belgium. Through the ‘fresco consumption’ we want to promote a new way to enjoy port, chilled on the rocks with a slice of citrus.

“It’s a way to taste port differently, should it be tawny, ruby, pink or white. It is fresh, fruity, with lower alcohol and really easy to make on your own – a nice opportunity to recruit new consumers,” she says.


With the tradition, mainly among the upper and middle classes (socio economic/demographic ABC1s) and predominately in the UK and US, of laying down vintage port for their children’s coming of age, port is ideal for long-term cellaring and fetches staggering prices at auction – in particular Taylor’s, which is The Macallan of port.

With that in mind, the major players have seen the opportunity of global travel retail with limited editions and anniversary expressions to attract the attentions of affluent travellers, particularly from Asia.

Taylor’s, with claims to be one of the oldest a port houses – it celebrated its 325th anniversary in 2017 – has created an exclusive blend released in a limited-edition bottle that is said to recreate a historic bottle shape from the first half of the 18th century.

Taylor’s managing director Adrian Bridge says: “This launch is a tribute to the long and rich history of port as well as continuing our long-standing tradition of innovation. We set out to create a unique blend presented in bespoke, collectible and limited-availability packaging designed to appeal to both existing and new port consumers.’