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Old Theophilus Port

March 5, 2012
Question by: Paul, East Farley, GB

Q:

My stepfather opened a bottle of Old Theophilus Port this evening that has been handed down to him by his mother. On further inspection, the label says "to appointment to the King", so this is clearly a pre-1952 vintage. On sampling it, it is a lovely tawny port. I have tried to research more about it, but there is no information at the usual sources. Would you know anything more about this Port ?

A:

Hi Paul, Without seeing the full details on the label ourselves, it is difficult to hazard a guess.  Theophilus is not a name that has been used by Symington Family Estates for any of our Port brands, and we are not familiar with that name among other Portuguese Port shippers.   Prior to 1974 most Port was shipped in cask and bottled by wine merchants themselves, who may have bottled it under their own name or "brand" names, rather than shipper name. 

However, if it were a Vintage port, it would almost certainly state clearly on the label "Vintage Port" and name the year of the vintage.  If the words Tawny or Colheita appear, then it was bottled as a tawny style, if it simply says Port or Porto or Port Wine, it may have begun life as a Ruby style.  As Port wines age in bottle they can turn a tawny colour and become more like Tawnies in tasting profile, even if they were bottled as Vintage or any Ruby style of port, particularly after 40 years or more.  You may want to read our article about the Lifecycle of Vintage Port in Bottle to learn more about the ageing process.  Finally, does the label state "Product of Portugal"?  If not - it may not be a true Port, but rather a fortified wine made in some other region.  Australia, particularly, has a tradition of producing tawny fortified wines.



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