Port wine, also known as Vinho do Porto, Porto, or simply Port, is generally a sweet, fortified wine made in Porto and Douro in Portugal strictly according to the regulations formulated in 1756 and under the control of IVDP since its formation in 1932. According to these laws, also accepted by the EU Protected Designation of Origin, only fortified wines produced in the Douro demarcated Region, conforming to the physical-chemical and organoleptical characteristics laid out by the IVDP, can be called Port wine. Producers registered with the IVDP can only produce or sell Port. Even the labels must be approved by the IVDP and each bottle must bear the seal of guarantee.
|The Real McCoy-at IVDP Shop
Not all countries in the world recognize or protect appellations of origin as an intellectual property right. Port is an appellation of origin recognized and protected in Portugal, EU and in the countries that have signed mutual treaties. The recognition and protection of the appellation of origin Port may also derive from bilateral agreements celebrated by Portugal and EU, as well as from the WTO Agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Porto has managed to force South Africa to discontinue the use of the word ‘Port’ by 2012 and most producers have already switched the name to ‘Cape Tawny’. It has been able to sign a deal with Australia too. It has admittedly not being able to convince the US. However IVDP has now joined the international group of regions for protection of regional appellations like Champagne, Sherry and Tokai etc, carving out agreements with local associations like Napa Valley, with reciprocal arrangements to protect each other’ s geographical and territorial rights.
Goan Port- Fraudulent, unethical or illegal?
Port producers and the IVDP are well aware of the ‘Port’ being produced in Goa where fortified wine has been made under the nose of the Portuguese who started the process, for centuries, mostly for consumption within Goa with the emphasis on ‘cheap and sweet’. The credit for producing in an organised way goes to Dr. Francisco Xavier da Costa Azaredo who went to Portugal to study medicine and founded Vinicola in 1972 after his return. He has been making Port since the time when there was no EU. He has been the leader in this industry up till the last couple of years. About 200,000-250,000 cases of such Port are estimated to be produced in Goa and Nashik alone- making it around 25% of the domestic wine production by volume.
But the Portuguese have not been keeping quiet about this production which they consider illegal and fraudulent. Dr. Alberto Ribeiro de Almeida, head of the legal department of IVDP says, ‘we have been taking action against several countries and in fact have successfully stopped South Africa, Australia and Chile. We could not have much success with the US but we decided to go for private arrangements with different regions along with Champagne, Tokaj etc in protecting each other’s territorial interests and the arrangement is working fine.’
With reference to India he added, ‘we filed an application two years ago through the proper international channels to register Porto for protection in India like Champagne did successfully. But we understand it took them 3 years to do the same and now it has stopped the illegal usage in India. We have already taken it up with the European Union and I believe we are making headway. So it is a matter of time when these errant producers ( I reminded him that it may not be termed Fraud as most are adding ‘Goan’ or ‘Nashik’ as the prefix to port and are not directly hoodwinking people into believing it is Port- the Real McCoy). If it mentions Goan Port it is potentially illegal; only if they mention Port or Vinho do Porto makes it a Fraud on the consumer for which they could file a criminal complaint.
The Indian Port may or may not be fortified, with 19-22% alcohol level although there is a Nashik Port which has 14% alcohol only and is not fortified. Sugar is an important ingredient, as are flavours and colouring materials. There are no standards and no controls. For some inexplicable reasons, a lot of wheat is being used in the Port production; delWine has learnt from reliable sources. These Ports sell for Rs.70- 130 (wherever the taxes are within the logical parameters). Drinkers are even encouraged to put ice or drink them with soda at times if they find them not very palatable when taken ‘neat’.
Gallery of Frauds
All the products featured in this “Gallery” are frauds of the Appellation of Origin Porto. By attempting to have a similar appearance to that usually associated with Port wine bottles, and presented on the shelves next to the genuine article, these products could confuse the customer into erroneously assuming their origin and quality.
Goa however, is not the only ‘Port’ producer in the list of Frauds. UK, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Croatia, Costa Rica, Peru, Moldova, Turkey, France, Brazil and even Portugal find their name in the infamous list of countries producing fraudulent wines. For the complete list of such products, click here.
You may enjoy the cheap Goan or Nashik Port today but if you don’t find the name Port on such bottles in a few years, you need not wonder why. Their days may be numbered!