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Alister Purbrick | 4th Generation

“Most visitors to our Cellar Door understand that the Grand Tawny is what we previously called ‘Tawny Port’, but quite a few ask the question, what is LBVP?

Neil Larson is a winemaker at Tahbilk, his first vintage was back in 1991. In this Blog Neil will be answering the question “what is L.B.V.P”?

Over to you Neil…

I should warn you that this explanation contains a tiny bit of legalistic and some technical winemaking discussion…

I’m going to use the word ‘Port’ in this article for clarity which is fine, we just can’t use it on our labels.

To discuss ‘Port’ (or fortified) wines we need to understand a bit of recent legal history. In 2011 a trade agreement between Australia and the EU stipulated that Australian wine producers would no longer use the words ‘Port’ and ‘Sherry’ to describe their fortified wines. In the same way that we agreed not to use the anglicised French place names of Champagne and Burgundy to describe our sparkling and table wines, we (the Australian wine community) agreed not to use the anglicised word ‘Port’ derived from Porto in the northern provinces of Portugal, and ‘Sherry’ derived from the municipality of Jerez in southern Spain.

We also need to understand some of the winemaking differences. Both Tawny Port and Vintage Port (VP) start the same way – with ripe red grapes, usually Shiraz in our case, but traditional grape varieties in Portugal are Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), and others. We usually pick our Shiraz at 13.5 to 14.0 Baume, but for Port we leave the grapes out longer – as ripe as 17.0 Baume. (Baume is a French measure of the sugar content of the grapes, and as a rule of thumb, 1 Baume produces 1 percent of alcohol in the final wine. So 17.0 Baume grapes produce a much more alcoholic wine than 13.5 Baume grapes.)

Stay with me,
we’re getting there!

The very ripe grapes are crushed and fermented and closely monitored for sugar and alcohol content. At around 7.0 Baume the fermenting red wine is ‘fortified’ by the addition of spirit. The spirit (distilled alcohol of around 80-90% proof, made from grape skins) stops the fermentation, holding the sugar at that level and increasing the alcohol of the wine. At Tahbilk we use different types of spirit for or Tawny and for LBVP, but that’s a discussion for another time.

We now have a fortified red wine, a Ruby Port, derived from its sparkling bright colour, with a high sugar level and a high alcohol compared with a table wine. After fortifying, the Ruby Port is then transferred to oak barrels for ageing, and this is where the real difference lies between a Tawny and LBVP.

Tawny is matured for many years in barrel, and the slow exposure to oxygen allows it to develop a ‘tawny’ colour, with corresponding complex nutty, dried fruit, caramel and coffee characters. It is also usually a blend of many vintages of wine, the blending giving the blend age, youthfulness and complexity. Tawny has plenty of ageing so it’s ready to drink on release.

VP is from a single vintage and is aged for two years in barrel before it is bottled for further aging in-bottle. So it has only a short time in contact with oxygen, and retains most of the bright fruit characters of the vintage. It needs quite some time in-bottle to fully mature – 10 years plus. ‘LBVP’, or Late Bottled Vintage Port, is aged for four to six years in wood. So LBVP spends a longer time in barrel than VP, where it softens and matures, and then bottled to preserve the primary fruit characters.

LBVP that is true to its name should have some of the character of a vintage, with balanced fruit and tannin, and good depth of flavour. It is ready to drink on release, but will age nicely for another 5 plus years.

And I haven’t even talked about Liqueur Muscat, which is the third in our trio of fortified releases, but is a very different style to either of the Ports. A good topic for another winter’s day.”


Neil Larson, Tahbilk Winemaker 

Tahbilk Grand Tawny
Normally $32.95 Wine Club $29.65

18.5% Alcohol Enjoy Now to 2024/2026

An impressive fortified with aromas of walnut and prune with a complex mix of dried fruits. The palate is deeply flavoured and concentrated with characteristic caramel, toffee, walnut and fruitcake flavours, the finish is long and lingering.

Tahbilk 2013 LBVP
Normally $32.95 Wine Club $29.65

19.5% Alcohol Enjoy Now to 2025/2030

Delicate floral, warm earth and spice aromas guide you to a fresh and expressive palate of dark plum, strawberry and candied fruit characters.

Tahbilk Liqueur Muscat
Normally $32.95 Wine Club $29.65

17.0% Alcohol Enjoy Now to 2024/2026

This Tahbilk offering shows seductive aromas of rose petal, orange peel and raisins. The palate is concentrated, richly flavoured and deliciously sweet, with fruitcake, butterscotch, coffee and chocolate flavours.


1 Comment

  1. Good post. I’m facing a few of these issues as well..

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