India's First Wine, Food and Hospitality Website, INDIAN WINE ACADEMY, Specialists in Food & Wine Programmes. Food Importers in Ten Cities Across India. Publishers of delWine, India’s First Wine.
Skip Navigation Links
About Us
Indian Market
Wine & Health
Wine Events
Retail News
Contact Us
Skip Navigation Links
Wine Tourism
Book Review
Photo Gallery
Readers' Comments
Video Wall
Media Partners
Ask Wineguyindia
Wine & Food
Wine Guru
Gerry Dawes
Harvest Reports
Mumbai Reports
Advertise With Us
US Report on Indian Market Released
Top Ten Importers List 2015-16
On Facebook
On Twitter
Delhi Wine Club
IVDP: Multi-faceted Regulator of Port and Douro

Posted: Monday, 11 July 2011 12:35

IVDP: Multi-faceted Regulator of Port and Douro

July 11: In a sharp contrast to India where there are no real wine laws in place, Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP) is the oldest wine regulatory body in the world, created by the Portuguese Monarch in 1756 to control, regulate the quality of Porto wines and help market them at the same time, making the role nebulous and seemingly conflicting, writes Subhash Arora who observed it from close quarters during his visit to Porto last month during the OIV International Conference on Vines and Wines.

Click For Large View
Ask any of the 350 producers of Port or wines from Douro valley and the name of IVDP crops up within minutes. The strict rules, the controls at various stages, the connection and control by the Portuguese government-perceived or real,  and of course the €.03 per liter sold and €.02 for every seal of guarantee that they have to pay to them come out like the bubbles from Champagne. The amount may seem rather trivial but it adds up- last year the reserves of € 8 million were given to the Portuguese government facing the financial crunch.

Regulatory Body since 1756
There are two versions given by several producers and the organization about the genesis but the name of Marques Pombal invariably comes  up in every conversation as does that of several English Port shippers like Taylor who had been in the wine export since the early seventeenth century, before the Body was formed. The first relates to the need for quality control in the mid eighteenth century. The popularity and expanding exports to the UK  in the mid -eighteenth century resulted in dangerous fall in quality and several fake products started finding their way into the UK market, shaking up the foundations of the lucrative trade and endangering the future.

Marques Pombal was an astute Prime Minister to King Don Jose and he decided to get tough and regulate the trade closely to safeguard the interests of quality producers as well as the State. The area of production was defined and demarcated in the Douro Valley where over a hundred individual grape varieties were already being used- mostly as field blends to make Port. 

The second reason would be perhaps more plausible and palatable for Port wine drinkers in India where there are no regulatory laws- it is produced in large quantities, predominantly in Goa. The government keeps on increasing taxes on wine and alcohol as a source of revenue.  There had been the catastrophic ‘Great Lisbon Earthquake’ on 1 November, 1755, followed by devastating fires and tsunami and the country was on the verge of financial disaster. PM Pombal decided to regulate the trade to realign the tax structure for additional revenues.

In either case, the legend has it that the laws were very strict and the penalties for misdemeanor were extremely harsh, a tough act to follow in India and yet could be a benchmark on how to make tough laws and enforce them too.

Role and Scope of IVDP
Role of IVDP has been well defined and is very important to maintain the quality of different types of Port including Ruby, Tawny, Vintage and recently even Rosé Port has been added.  The 3-fold objectives include defending the appellation laws, keep the quality under check and help in marketing the products too. Douro still wines improving in quality in the last couple of decades and their increasing international demand, earned them the DOC Douro status and brought them under its purview in 2003. Besides checking the final products and validating the claims that go on the bottle including the taste, the Body also ensures that the intermittent process is also under the scanner.

Today IVDP is an autonomous body but the President is appointed by the government (like an IAS office in India). However, due to the highly technical nature of the job, the technical background is reportedly also a key factor.

Visiting the Institute

As you enter the building, you are given a ‘stony’ welcome by a tall 5-ft something,  immortal marker made of granite known as Feitoria around 350 of which had been fixed to the ground defining  the geographical  boundary at that time.  A long poster on the left wall describes the various types of  Port characterized as:

“a palatable fire to the spirit,
a burning gunpowder flash
as writing ink is to colour
as Brazil is to sweetness
as India is to Aroma”

For a moment you are transported back to India and Vasco de Gama, the Portuguese traveler who had discovered India and the Indian spices in 1498 and later helped start making the fortified wine known as Goan Port for generations.

There are the usual labs including a Chromatographic lab, molecular lab and tasters’ lab where everyday 7 tasters taste through various samples, (supposedly 10% of those submitted) blind to confirm whether the taste allows the sample to be approved for approval. Every time the Port batch is bottled, a sample has to be submitted and approved for quality bottling by IVDP. A Port can be termed Vintage only if approved as such by the IVDP although the wineries are not obliged to label them as Port. For instance, most producers would declare only 3-4 vintages out of a decade as Vintage Port.

Specifications of Grape Brandy

The minutest details like the specification of grape brandy (neutral alcohol) for fortification are well defined. No colour, vegetal or wood flavours are allowed and it must be clear. The suppliers are generally from Portugal, Spain and even Italy but they have to be approved and their products are constantly tested to make sure the quality is according to specifications Even the quantities issued are well regulated according to the total Port production, according to the pre-defined formula.  If the winemaker miscalculates and stops fermentation earlier, he may not have enough ethyl alcohol to produce the quantities. In short, the quality from the grape to the bottle is sought to be strictly controlled for safety and standards. 

Other specifications
A 10 year Tawny Port means that the average age of the blends must be over 10 years. And if it is an LBV (late bottled vintage) it must be stored in the casks for 4-6 years before bottling and the bottling date must be mentioned. Filtered wines do not improve with age and should be drunk within a few months after bottling. If it is unfiltered (traditional method) it is mentioned on the label and it can also age in the bottle. All such process specifications are under its control for strict compliance.

The list of specifications is endless. Port and Champagne are considered mostly regulated wine products throughout the world. Like Champagne, it is also an inter-professional body looking at helping the sales.  One of the functions is also to make sure people are not imitating the Ports or copying the name abroad- more on that in a later article.

Everyone is welcome

Located a few hundred meters from the banks of Douro, the IVDP is located in a beautiful building which was earlier owned by a bank. Apart from being the office, it also opened a part of its building to the public 4 years ago allowing what they called ‘scientific tourism.’ There is also a shop which displays a big variety of Ports that can be purchased at a reasonable price.

The Indian wine law makers should consider visiting the IVDP and learn how they have managed to keep the regulations strict and alive in an effort to keep the Port flag flying high for over 250 years. If you ever visit the beautiful Porto and don’t know much about Ports but would like to pick up a couple of bottles of Vintage Port or a Tawny and learn a few basic facts about Port in a short time, do drop in. You will be welcome.

Subhash Arora
For another recent article, visit Primer: Port not Only for Portly



Arlindo Castro Says:


IVDP was created in 1932. Probably this is a missunderstood with the creation, in 1756, of the Região Demarcada do Douro, by Marquês do Pombal - prime-minister of Portugal. The 8 million euros were not "given" to the portuguese gourvenement: they are still in an public account, but they belong to the IVDP for promotions acts. Best regards

Posted @ July 12, 2011 11:28


Want to Comment ?
Please enter your comments in the space provided below. If there is a problem, please write directly to Thank you.

Generate a new image

Type letters from the image:

Please note that it may take some time to get your comment published...Editor

Wine In India, Indian Wine, International Wine, Asian Wine Academy, Beer, Champagne, World Wine Academy, World Wine, World Wines, Retail, Hotel


Copyright©indianwineacademy, 2003-2020 |All Rights Reserved
Developed & Designed by Sadilak SoftNet