Vintage Port is:
A. Bottled two to three years after fermentation then aged a long time in the bottle
B. Bottled 10 to 15 years after fermentation and then usually even longer by the ultimate consumer
C. Bottled after it has thrown a sediment
D. Bottled as soon as the governing body in Oporto formally declares it to be a Vintage year
Vintage Ports are first aged just two years in barrel, to round off their powerful edges. Then—and this is the key—they are aged reductively (without oxygen) for a long time in bottle. During bottle aging, the Vintage Port matures slowly, becoming progressively more refined and integrated. A decade’s worth of aging is standard, and several decades used to be fairly common. Indeed, the 1970 Vintage Port is now, nearly fifty years later, considered to be one of the Ports to experience. And Ports from the 1950s are still amazingly lively on the palate. (The 1955 Cockburn’s is one of the most hauntingly luscious wines I have ever tasted or felt…it was sheer silk).