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IVDP, Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto
Terry Sullivan

Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do PortoSummary: The IVDP, Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto (Port and Douro Wines Institute) was created to certify the wines produced in the Douro region. The goal of the institute is to defend and protect Port and Douro wines, control the evaluation of the area’s wines and promote the area’s wines.

Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do PortoEver since 1756, there was a form of quality control for the wines produced in the Douro region. While visiting the IVDP building in Porto, we observed a pombaline boundary marker. The marker was dated 1758. This was one of the markers that was used to demarcate the Douro region, making the Douro the first demarcated wine region in the world. The IVD inherited a former quality control organization in 1933. The “P” was added in 2003 and the institute is now known as the IVDP.

Louisa Fry and Manuel Lima Ferreira gave us a tour of the facility. We learned that every producer must send four bottles of each wine they craft to the IVDP for analysis and approval. The IVDP analyzes 10,000 wines a year. There are two parts of an analysis. One is a chemical analysis done in a lab and the other is a panel of tasters who analyze a wine in the tasting chamber. Results of the analysis are sent to the producers. About 10% of the wines are not approved.

Chemical Analysis

Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do PortoChemical analysis includes over 130,000 analytic readings gathered through physico-chemical, gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, mineral analysis, isotopic and microbiological analysis. Many of the IVDP employees have a strong chemical background. The equipment in each room appears to be high-end, up-to-date and expensive. There appears to be no room for error. The scientists in the lab do not know the producers of any wine. Wines are covered in a black plastic bag and are identified by the IVDP with a bar code.

Tasting Panel

Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do PortoThe tasting panel dates back to 1933. All wines are judged blind by a seven-member panel. A taster will evaluate a maximum of 20 samples per day. There are more than seven tasters hired by IVDP. Ten percent of the wines tasted each day have already been tasted. Therefore the tasters can be evaluated to see their consistency tasting the same wines. The IVDP hires tasters who have no health problems, high standards of motivation, self-confidence and humility. Manuel explained that they need to know that they will fail at times. That is why there is a panel of tasters. Manuel continued, “It is a privilege to be on this side of the business.” The photo shows wines for a member of a tasting panel to evaluate. Members of the panel have their own cubical and do not interact with the other panel members while analyzing the wines.


Vintage Ports

We were curious about the declaration of a vintage year for a port. While tasting ports at different port lodges, we had a chance to taste a few vintage ports. The oldest was a W&J Graham’s 1972 Vintage Port. It just so happened that 1972 was the year Kathy and I were married. We learned that a producer can request the IVDP to approve a port to be vintage. If approved by the IVDP, the company can declare the port a vintage port. In some years there are many producers that ask the IVDP to approve a port as a vintage port. On those years, the port wine trade can declare a vintage year.


Building Tour

Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do PortoInstituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do PortoLouisa took us on a tour of the building’s second floor. There were large, grandiose rooms on this floor used for meetings. One room had green walls and white plaster moulding on the walls and ceiling. It reminded us of Green Jasperware Wedgwood. The center of the ceiling had a painting. In the corner of the room were three of the four largest hand-blown, lead crystal wine glasses in the world.They were created in 1998.

We found the IVDP to be a fascinating spot in Porto to visit to learn even more about the Douro Valley and its wine and port industry. To see the intense concern with which the scientists were concentrating on evaluating the wines was intriguing.

IVDP, Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto
R. de Ferreira Borges 27,
4050-253 Porto, Portugal


Article written April 2018.


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