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The Douro—the port-producing region of —has a warm continental climate, though weather patterns year over year vary significantly. Growers need to manage frost and heavy rainfall in the spring, followed by high temperatures and drought conditions throughout the growing season. As in , blending across varieties and vintages is the only way for port producers to maintain consistency in their style over time, and in the best years a vintage is declared.
Port blends are composed of many indigenous varieties, all with thick skin, high tannin, and black fruit and floral aromas. The most important varieties for the best-quality wines are Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Cão. Port blends are fortified by the addition of a neutral spirit before fermentation ends, raising the alcohol level to approximately 20% abv and leaving behind residual sugar. The best examples are extremely concentrated with grippy tannins and can age for decades in bottle. Look to the houses of , , and for some of the best-quality wines.The perfect port pairing varies based on style. Late-bottled vintage (LBV) ports pair best with cheese and chocolate. The concentrated flavor profile and high tannin of vintage ports match well with buttery and tangy flavors, including the classic Stilton blue cheese pairing, dark chocolate, figs, and walnut. Oxidized tawny port lacks fruit and displays aromas of nuts, dried apricots, toffee, and caramel. It pairs naturally with nut-forward dishes such as pecan pie, biscotti, pies and crème brûlée.