Taylor Fladgate celebrates the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first LBV
As the pioneer responsible for creating the LBV category, Taylor Fladgate is still its number one producer, representing 34% in value and is committed to continue to be the reference and first choice of the quality Port Wine aficionado.
Alistair Robertson, non-executive chairman of Taylor Fladgate, recalls: “When in 1970 we went ahead with the launch of LBV our objective was to meet the demands of the consumer, which had changed dramatically. The consumer wanted a high quality Port Wine at a reasonable price with no complicated handling or serving issues. Taylor Fladgate responded to those needs by creating a new concept of Port Wine: LBV. A wine from one single harvest, high quality, affordable, ready to be served and enjoyed as soon as it was bottled, with no need to be decanted and could be drunk by the glass for several weeks.” He adds: “Taylor Fladgate LBV was initially met with some scepticism by some members of the Port Wine trade, but it quickly became an overwhelming success, to begin with in the UK market and afterwards in other markets, having become a catalyst to attracting new consumers to Port Wine.”
Alistair Robertson signing a copy of the letter sent to distributors announcing the LBV
In the 60s and 70s wine consumers, with greater purchasing power, were drawn to quality Port Wine, but they were often put off by the cost of Vintage Port and the need for it to be aged in the bottle and decanted. There were very few Ports in between this and the simple young ruby Ports sold for mass consumption. Ironically it was Taylor Fladgate, the most respected Vintage Port producer, which provided the solution.
Adrian Bridge, CEO of Taylor Fladgate, comments: “Since it started trading in 1692, Taylor Fladgate has always been a specialist in producing and selling premium Port Wine, and is currently responsible for a third of all special category Port sales and has been the driver which has paved the way for quality Port Wine in the world.” He adds: “The launch of LBV in 1970 sparked a notable increase in the demand for high quality Port Wine not only in Europe, with the UK being the number one customer, but also this quickly spread to North America, creating major customers in the US and Canada. Also, emerging markets in Asia and Latin America have awoken to the pleasures of quality Port Wine, driven by Taylor Fladgate.” He continues: “The growing demand for LBV has encouraged Taylor Fladgate to make significant investments in innovative technologies and methods both in viticulture and winemaking and in building new warehouses with ideal conditions for ageing LBV which give Taylor Fladgate an excellent capability to react to the needs of an ever growing number of markets. Taylor Fladgate today is present in 103 countries.”
This new Port category guaranteed the place of Port wine in the drinking repertoires of western consumers, with their growing interest in wine and food. Also it contributed to a revival in interest in Vintage Port, particularly in the 1990s, a process assisted by influential wine writers who helped consumers to embrace the complexities of fine wine rather than be intimidated by them.
According to David Guimaraens, technical and winemaking director: “LBV is a wonderful wine, whose blend is made from amongst the best and most full-bodied red Port Wines from a single year. Unlike Vintage Port, which is bottled after two years ageing in wood and further matures in the bottle, LBV is bottled later, remaining in large wooden vats for between four and six years. The thousands of vats where LBV ages are looked after by a team of exceptional craftsmen, whose task it is to care for and maintain them so that the port always ages in the best of conditions. During this relatively long ageing period in wood, an LBV softens and matures, making it ready to drink after bottling. It doesn’t need to be decanted and can be enjoyed for several weeks after opening.” He adds: “To ensure consistent quality and house style Taylor Fladgate developed innovations which are now part of the history of Port and Douro Wines. In viticulture, the new model for sustainable planting set up by Taylor Fladgate in 2002 was awarded the BES Biodiversity prize in 2009, having been considered to be the standard model for environmentally responsible viticulture in the Douro. In winemaking, the inauguration in 2000 of the Nogueira Winery, one of the most advanced wineries in the Douro Valley, equipped with innovative fermentation tanks designed by Taylor Fladgate own production team, was key to our ability to maintain consistent quality levels and to produce the growing volumes required for Taylor Fladgate LBV.” He concludes: “LBV is the perfect end to any meal; rich and powerful, it has elegant, expressive and floral aromas, with principal notes of red and black fruits - black cherry dominating. On the palate it has flavours of dark chocolate and raspberries and elegant and well integrated tannins. This is the Taylor Fladgate’s style: a Port which is always well balanced and sophisticated.”
Taylor Fladgate remains the leader across the world in the LBV category. LBV is the most popular premium Port style in both the UK and Canada, representing one in five purchases of Port in the UK and over a quarter of all the Port enjoyed by Canadians.
Learn more about the LBV 2015