Port Wine Brands in Australia: Where are they?

It’s hard to say which brands of Australian Port are best, because there are no Australian Port brands.

Since 2003, Port has been solely produced in its native Portugal, in the Duoro Valley  region. As a result, what we Australians produce in the Port style must be called something else– typically Tawny or Ruby fortifieds.

Four old bottles, with the St Anne's port brand on them: Colonial POrt, Port, Myrniong, and shiraz-cabernet
Before the port brand became exclusive to Portugal, our bottles looked a little like this…

In 2003, a new regulatory bod, the Instituto dos Vinho do Porto (IDVP) came into play in Portugal tasked with protecting the reputation of the national beverage by regulating its industry. This has one major drawback for Australian producers: they can no longer take advantage of the name’s history and familiarity.  But in this separation gives us one distinct advantage. We are are not regulated by the IDVP, and we are free to experiment as much as we like. The IDVP also limits the amount of Port that a certain winemaker can produce, based on a stringent grading system.  Luckily, in Australia, we can make as much as you want.

We like to think the best Tawny fortified is born of a little innovation. In Australia, we can feel a little more comfortable with innovation knowing it won’t be held up against a board like the Instituto dos Vinho do Porto… Our only judges are far more important than that.  It is our consumers, and our wisdom tells us this: Australian consumers are looking for something different. If you want a traditional Port, you can import it from Portugal.

We’ve been doing a little bit of experimentation. And from that has come a science of Tawny making that we are very proud of.

A conventional Portugese Port is aged in an oak barrel– like most wines. At St Anne’s, we offer both American and European oak-aged Tawny. And then we offer something else; something special. We evoke the smoky, malted grain complexity in our Foundry Tawny using old whisky barrels. The barrels also give the Foundry its sumptuous tones of vanilla, butter, and spiced fruits.

We also use bourbon and rum barrels in our other Tawny varieties: in our Jack’s Barrel Tawny and in our Rebellion Tawny. Bourbon barrels can impart a beautiful caramel, coconut spice character. It is that character that makes our Jack’s Barrel one of our most popular Tawnies. For a wine reminiscent of your grandmother’s Christmas cake, try our Rebellion. Its softness and rich colour set it apart from the others. The complex profiles of our Tawnies are surprising, yet somehow familiar. 

So, if you’re looking for a Port with a difference, you’ve found it.

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