Churchill’s Port was founded by Johnny Graham, scion of the famed Graham family, in 1981. His family’s own company had been acquired in 1970 by Symington Family Estates (Graham’s, Warre’s, Dow’s, Cockburn’s, Smith Woodhouse, and others), and at the time he struck out on his own he was establishing the first new Port house in half a century. To this day, Churchill’s remains one of the most significant boutique houses outside the umbrella of Symington Family Estates and Taylor Fladgate (Taylor’s, Fonseca, Croft, and others.) All Churchill’s grapes are sourced from Grade-A (the highest in the Douro’s rating scheme) vineyards, and all grapes receive ‘vintage’ treatment at the outset: crushed and vinified in granite lagares, where they undergo the time-honored and costly process of human foot-treading for extraction. A key factor in Churchill’s relatively dry style is a longer-than-normal fermentation time, which also means that the proportion of alcohol from added brandy is lower than normal in these wines.
While ‘regular’ vintage port, the pinnacle of any house’s production, is typically bottled after a maximum of 30 months in wood or steel (thus retaining a fresher, less oxidative fruit character, but often requiring decades of bottle age to tame the wine’s fierce structure), a parallel style of Late-Bottled Vintage developed. Hailing from vintage-quality grapes, these wines spend 4+ years in wood, retaining a good deal of vintage port’s character while being effectively ready to drink on release.
Churchill’s Late-Bottled Vintage 2015 Port is a field blend of many varieties such as Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca and Tinta Francisca. It’s fermented in granite lagares until reaching 98 g/L of residual sugar, at which point it’s fortified with neutral grape spirit to 19.5% alcohol. It spends four years aging in wood. Bottled unfiltered— while it will not throw as much sediment as a vintage port, decanting is recommended.
Black cherry in color. A nose of rich blackberry aromas with resinous undertones. The palate is smooth and complex, with juicy flavors of wild berries and black chocolate.