Only three to four times a decade are the climatic conditions ideal in the Douro Valley to produce a sufficient quantity of exceptional wines which will allow shippers to 'declare' a Vintage. Vintage Port is aged in oak casks for two years before being transferred unfiltered to the bottle, where it has the potential to mature for decades.
An under-rated producer, Smith-Woodhouse has turned out a port with an impressively saturated dark ruby/purple color. This powerful port is moderately sweet, forward, rich, and full-bodied, with nicely integrated alcohol and tannin. While it is not one of the vintage's blockbusters, it should be ready to drink in 3-5 years and keep for 15-20.
Christopher Smith, a prominent figure in the British wine trade and Member of Parliament, who was later to become Lord Mayor of London, opened offices in Oporto in 1784 to ship Port wine from the bar of the Douro. Several years later Smith's sons were joined in partnership by the Woodhouse brothers, already well established as importers of wine from other regions, and the firm became known by its present name. Smith Woodhouse built a strong clientele for more than a century, but after World War II, in common with other firms, business became increasingly difficult. In 1970 the Symington family acquired the firm.
Under the Symingtons' ownership Smith Woodhouse continues to make some of its finest Ports by the traditional methods, and has produced a succession of outstanding Vintage Ports in a characteristic opulent rich style, balanced by firm hard tannins.
Most of the Smith Woodhouse wines come from the Rio Torto area in the Upper Douro, the majority of them still produced by treading the grapes by foot in stone lagares.