Churchill’s has a unique style that combines the blender’s art with the special characteristics of the terroir.
Churchill’s was founded in 1981 by John Graham, making it the first Port Wine Company to be established in 50 years. The Founder wanted to continue his family’s long Port tradition but at the same time create his own individual style of Port. He named the Company after his wife, Caroline Churchill.
“My Ports are made with as much natural fermentation, and with a little fortification brandy, as possible. I like to make wines in the most natural way. Above all I look for balance. I believe I brought this balance to Churchill’s Ports. There is a consensus around the characteristics that define our house style which are easily identified.”, John Graham.
Buying Quinta da Gricha in 1999 was an important and fundamental step for bringing Churchill’s into the production of Douro wines, and making them a special case of success.
The Pop Up Bar we opened in London, as well as the Sense the Taste experience – www.sensethetaste.com, the Taste Discovery event and the #RethinkPortWine movement are just some references in our unique and audacious way to promote Porto and Douro Wines.
Churchill’s Ports are made in the most traditional way, with minimal intervention and maximum respect for the natural grape conditions.
A key factor to Churchill’s dry style is the longer fermentation time. Longer fermentation means less added brandy, more natural alcohol, therefore, a more natural wine. Also, a longer fermentation gives the wine more structure.
The combination of foot-treading and a longer fermentation time ensures that all Churchill’s Ports are drier and well structured, a unique Churchill’s characteristic. A good structure, along with good natural acidity, is a key element to ensuring excellent ageing potential.
The IVDP is the official government body that rules the Port Wine business. The IVDP rates and classifies vineyards on an A-E scale, with A being the best level and E the worst.
Quintas are given numerical ratings on different criteria such as: vineyard location (microclimate); altitude; grape varieties; age and vineyard density; soil (schist or granite); productivity and vineyard maintenance. The A-E classification is then attributed depending on the total numerical rating.
All Churchill’s Ports and Douro wines are made only with Grade A grapes and produced exclusively with native grape varieties.
All Churchill’s Port grapes are sourced from Grade A vineyards. When they arrive at the Churchill’s Port winery at Quinta da Gricha, they all receive the same Vintage Port treatment. This means that, after being carefully hand-selected on grape sorting tables, the grapes are then crushed and vinified in “lagares,” or traditional open granite fermentation tanks; here the grapes are foot-trodden in the time honoured fashion, still the most effective way of producing Vintage Port.
Foot-treading achieves a gentle but thorough maceration of the grapes and skins without damaging the pips and thereby extracts the necessary colour and tannins whilst still preserving the fresh, natural grape aromas and flavours.
At the end of the vintage, all Ports are tasted and classified. Depending on their quality, such as colour intensity, structure and pedigree, all Churchill’s Ports are classified into 3 category levels: Vintage, Late Bottled Vintage, and Reserve.
Churchill’s Tawny Ports are a natural evolution from these three categories.
Churchill’s Tawny Port philosophy: “never let the wood dominate the natural fruit and freshness of the Port.”
The older the Tawny, the better should be the Port. An old Tawny Port needs to start its life as a powerful, full-bodied Port to withstand the oxidation it will receive from ageing in wood over many years.
Churchill’s 20 and 30 Year Old Tawny Ports are blended from the highest category level, Vintage, whilst a 10 Year Old Port such as Churchill’s 10 Year Old Tawny can be blended from the LBV level.
All Churchill’s Tawny Ports are partly aged in large oak vats before finishing their maturation in small port pipes (600 litre seasoned oak casks). As a result they receive less oxidation and suffer less of colour. It is the combination of these factors that differentiates Churchill’s Tawny Ports from the competition. They tend to be drier, well-structured and darker in colour with fresh fruit flavours dominating the nutty, more wood-aged characeristics.