Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

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Axel P
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Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by Axel P » 13:37 Thu 01 Oct 2020

In 2020 the IVDP reduced the Beneficio by some 6.000 casks (x550 Liters). Additionally they have called for a 10.000 cask Quality reserve (last time put in effect in 1945 to reduced the risk of overproduction after WWII).

Additionally the state is supporting the sector with some other issues such as money for promotion, for destilling overproduced table wines and help with wine storage.

It is now also up to us to help the producers:

DRINK MORE PORT AND BUY SOME.

Lovely 2017 and 2018 Vintage Ports are currently available.

Lets cross fingers that no producer will be affected too much.

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by JacobH » 22:07 Thu 01 Oct 2020

This is very interesting. On the Port to Port Wine blog there is a rather nice chart showing the benefício total volumes over the last 20 years. The low point was 2011 when 85,000 pipes were allowed; from there it rose to 118,000 in 2017 and then has been falling back. In the 2000s, the high point was 154,000 pipes in 2001 with the average being about 120,000.

This suggests to me that the 6,000 reduction from the 108,000 in 2019 is within the range of a normal fluctuation. The big change is probably the additional 10,000 cask reserve.

I wonder what sort of companies are most affected by falls in the benefício? Is it the big producers making lots of cheap Port and the vineyards that supply them? Or does it affect the smaller producers of quality wines?
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by AHB » 20:01 Fri 09 Oct 2020

The beneficio regulates the number of pipes of Port which can be produced from a hectare of vineyard, with different amounts for grade A, B, C etc. Everyone gets a proportionate reduction so it affects all grape farmers equally when you look at it from a yield point of view - but logic says that the big producers of low price / high volume brands must suffer the most; if sales support it, producers would logically sacrifice low margin Port to maintain production of higher margin wines.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by JacobH » 10:34 Sat 10 Oct 2020

I think that must be right. Although I have no real sense of what the economics of Grade B and below vineyards are like (or, indeed, any sense of where they are and what they produce) since the only thing that ever appears in any marketing information is stuff about Grade A ones.

I guess the system must work reasonably well since there seems to be no market whatsoever for declassified “Port” whereas in many other regions which have quotas like Chianti or Rioja there is a healthy declassified market. Or perhaps if you own a Grade C vineyard you turn your wine into vino verde in years when you can’t sell it for Port? ;-)
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by AHB » 17:47 Sat 10 Oct 2020

If you own grade C vineyards you will be permitted to make X pipes of Port per hectare of vineyard. Your vineyard might be grade C for Port but might produce grapes which are superb for making table wine. In theory there is a direct link between the vineyard, the grade of the vineyard, the grapes grown in that vineyard, the beneficio for that grade and the Port make and registered.

In practice, it is very difficult to trace the grapes to the wine they make. This gives the grade C vineyard owner a number of options if he grows more grapes in his vineyard than he is permitted to use to make Port:
(1) Make the maximum amount of Port permitted under the beneficio, register it, use the rest of your grapes to make a family reserve Port to be kept in cask and sold to a large shipper in 50 years time unless drunk by family and friends (or sold to people who visit the Quinta)
(2) Sell your grapes for Port and the beneficio to another shipper and then make table wine with the best table wine grapes you have, having sold the grapes least suitable for table wine when you sold your beneficio
(3) Something in between (1) and (2)

The system works well, mainly because grapes which can't be used for Port due to the size of the beneficio can now be used to make table wine, or distilled into aguardente.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by jdaw1 » 22:04 Sat 10 Oct 2020

AHB wrote:
17:47 Sat 10 Oct 2020
The system works well
Or, the system isn’t intolerable because it has loopholes.

Why should the system be retained, rather than allowing vineyard owners to do what the market wants with the grapes they can grow? As happens, approximately, everywhere else in the world.

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by Glenn E. » 22:42 Sat 10 Oct 2020

jdaw1 wrote:
22:04 Sat 10 Oct 2020
Why should the system be retained, rather than allowing vineyard owners to do what the market wants with the grapes they can grow? As happens, approximately, everywhere else in the world.
I think the US is a pretty good example of why unrestricted capitalism is a bad idea. Contrary to commonly accepted propaganda, unrestricted capitalism favors larger, more powerful corporations over small business owners.
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by Andy Velebil » 04:56 Sun 11 Oct 2020

Or you just sell your Benefico "paper" to another company and they make more really good Port thanks to your paper and you do something else with your grapes (table wine, family reserve, toss them, whatever). Sometimes the paper is worth more to another company than your grapes.

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by JacobH » 16:42 Mon 12 Oct 2020

Andy Velebil wrote:
04:56 Sun 11 Oct 2020
Or you just sell your Benefico "paper" to another company and they make more really good Port thanks to your paper and you do something else with your grapes (table wine, family reserve, toss them, whatever). Sometimes the paper is worth more to another company than your grapes.
Is this something which is allowed to happen or just happens clandestinely? For example, if you have vineyard which, say, has a benefício allowance this year of 100 pipes can you sell that 100 pipe allowance to another vineyard owner who can make another 100 pipes of Port from his / her grapes? It strikes me that if that is allowed then the quality-regulating parts of the benefício could easily be undermined (e.g. a low-grade vineyard owner could buy vast allowances and make huge amounts of Port even though his / her own allowances would only permit a small amount).
AHB wrote:
17:47 Sat 10 Oct 2020
(1) Make the maximum amount of Port permitted under the beneficio, register it, use the rest of your grapes to make a family reserve Port to be kept in cask and sold to a large shipper in 50 years time unless drunk by family and friends (or sold to people who visit the Quinta)
I bet there is a bit of a trade in unregistered Port, including those ancient colheitas that are either then released for sale by a mainstream shipper or go into the older blends. That said, I did notice that Quevedo’s 1970 White Colheita was, I think, explicitly not being sold since was unregistered which shows that some shippers are not doing anything dodgy with their family reserves.

I also wonder about those Ports that are used to top up the angel’s share when aging in wood. I have a feeling that they just don’t exist within the regulatory system and they could be quite a large quantity if you consider how much Port is lost over 40+ years of aging. If you are making tawny Port, for example, might you registered 10 pipes for aging and leave another pipe unregistered for topping up?

The other interesting point which this raises is how big the family reserves are? I can’t imagine you will get through much more than a pipe a year for family consumption / offering to visitors, especially if you are not a Grade A property which a huge benefício allowance in any event. But this is, of course, complete “finger in the wind” speculation!
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by Glenn E. » 18:06 Mon 12 Oct 2020

JacobH wrote:
16:42 Mon 12 Oct 2020
Andy Velebil wrote:
04:56 Sun 11 Oct 2020
Or you just sell your Benefico "paper" to another company and they make more really good Port thanks to your paper and you do something else with your grapes (table wine, family reserve, toss them, whatever). Sometimes the paper is worth more to another company than your grapes.
Is this something which is allowed to happen or just happens clandestinely? For example, if you have vineyard which, say, has a benefício allowance this year of 100 pipes can you sell that 100 pipe allowance to another vineyard owner who can make another 100 pipes of Port from his / her grapes? It strikes me that if that is allowed then the quality-regulating parts of the benefício could easily be undermined (e.g. a low-grade vineyard owner could buy vast allowances and make huge amounts of Port even though his / her own allowances would only permit a small amount).
As I recall it's an open secret.

That said, there's no money to be made by taking the grapes/beneficio down the quality scale. Would you pay more for a Port from Quinta da Vinha Medíocre or from one of the TFP or Symington brands? The grapes themselves are priced based on the quality of the vineyard, so a Grade F company buying Grade A grapes is paying for expensive grapes that they're probably not going to be able to sell for a premium price because the quality of their company's vineyards is known.

In the opposite direction it makes sense. A Grade A vineyard may (read: probably does) produce more Grade A grapes than it can make into Port due to the beneficio. Those "leftover" Grade A grapes can be used to make table wine, which is what many producers do, or that Grade A company can purchase beneficio from lower-grade companies and then use their leftover Grade A grapes to make more top-tier Port. With few exceptions (e.g. potentially Vinha Maria Teresa, Vinha da Ponte), grapes made into Port are more profitable than grapes made into table wine.
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by JacobH » 21:26 Mon 12 Oct 2020

Glenn E. wrote:
18:06 Mon 12 Oct 2020
That said, there's no money to be made by taking the grapes/beneficio down the quality scale. Would you pay more for a Port from Quinta da Vinha Medíocre or from one of the TFP or Symington brands? The grapes themselves are priced based on the quality of the vineyard, so a Grade F company buying Grade A grapes is paying for expensive grapes that they're probably not going to be able to sell for a premium price because the quality of their company's vineyards is known.
The first and most important question is how does Quinta da Vinha Medíocre compare with Quinta da Revolta? ;-)

I certainly accept what you are saying if we are dealing with the purchase of grapes, but I got the impression from Andy that the trade was also in the paperwork which I took to mean you could sell part of your allowance to someone else who could then turn more of their grapes into Port.

I accept this wouldn’t happen between a quality and mediocre vineyard but I was more thinking of between different vineyards at the same level.

But perhaps I misunderstand how the benefício works? I assumed that it was dependent on a number of qualitative things (e.g. what’s planted and where the quinta is) but also on the size of the property. So, just for sake of argument, in a Grade A vineyard, your benefício allowance will let you make Port from 80% of the grapes that are likely to be produced in a good year whilst in a Grade D vineyard, your benefício allowance will only let you make Port from 20%*.

[* These figures are purely illustrative and have no basis in reality!]

My assumption was then that since, as you say, the profit margins are higher with Port than table wines the quality would be driven up in the less-good-places since they are going to choose the best 20% of their grapes to sell to the shippers to make Port.

If, however, Quinta da Vinha Medíocre, which specialises in making high volume, low cost basic ruby for the French market can buy allowances from half-a-dozen Baixo Corgo places that just make table wines then they could be using 80% of their grapes to make Port in an average year with a detriment to quality.

But, again, this is just speculation: I haven’t seen anything reliable about how it works in practice. And, of course, there is very little information out there generally about the less-prestigious ends of the Port trade.
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by AHB » 22:05 Mon 12 Oct 2020

It is illegal to sell benificio, but it is perfectly legal to sell grapes together with their beneficio. Essentially this is the business of a grape farmer who supplies a Port producer.

The Port producer who buys grapes and beneficio is then able to make and register more Port than they would be able to if they hadn't bought the grapes from the farmer.

Which grapes are used to produce the final blends of Port registered with the IVDP might never be clear. It could be that all the grapes grown in the producer's Grade A vineyards end up in the final blend while none of the Grade C grapes grown by the farmer get used. Oh well, such is life. The farmer has been paid for his grapes and the producer has been able to register more Port than he would have been allowed to if he had not purchased the grapes. Everyone is happy.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by AHB » 22:07 Mon 12 Oct 2020

Glenn E. wrote:
18:06 Mon 12 Oct 2020
With few exceptions (e.g. potentially Vinha Maria Teresa, Vinha da Ponte), grapes made into Port are more profitable than grapes made into table wine.
There was a vintage recently where there was a real shortage of table wine grapes in the Douro that the price for table wine grapes was higher than for Port grapes (with their beneficio). I can't remember which year - was it 2018?
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by AHB » 22:14 Mon 12 Oct 2020

JacobH wrote:
21:26 Mon 12 Oct 2020
Glenn E. wrote:
18:06 Mon 12 Oct 2020
That said, there's no money to be made by taking the grapes/beneficio down the quality scale. Would you pay more for a Port from Quinta da Vinha Medíocre or from one of the TFP or Symington brands? The grapes themselves are priced based on the quality of the vineyard, so a Grade F company buying Grade A grapes is paying for expensive grapes that they're probably not going to be able to sell for a premium price because the quality of their company's vineyards is known.
The first and most important question is how does Quinta da Vinha Medíocre compare with Quinta da Revolta? ;-)

I certainly accept what you are saying if we are dealing with the purchase of grapes, but I got the impression from Andy that the trade was also in the paperwork which I took to mean you could sell part of your allowance to someone else who could then turn more of their grapes into Port.

I accept this wouldn’t happen between a quality and mediocre vineyard but I was more thinking of between different vineyards at the same level.

But perhaps I misunderstand how the benefício works? I assumed that it was dependent on a number of qualitative things (e.g. what’s planted and where the quinta is) but also on the size of the property. So, just for sake of argument, in a Grade A vineyard, your benefício allowance will let you make Port from 80% of the grapes that are likely to be produced in a good year whilst in a Grade D vineyard, your benefício allowance will only let you make Port from 20%*.

[* These figures are purely illustrative and have no basis in reality!]

My assumption was then that since, as you say, the profit margins are higher with Port than table wines the quality would be driven up in the less-good-places since they are going to choose the best 20% of their grapes to sell to the shippers to make Port.

If, however, Quinta da Vinha Medíocre, which specialises in making high volume, low cost basic ruby for the French market can buy allowances from half-a-dozen Baixo Corgo places that just make table wines then they could be using 80% of their grapes to make Port in an average year with a detriment to quality.

But, again, this is just speculation: I haven’t seen anything reliable about how it works in practice. And, of course, there is very little information out there generally about the less-prestigious ends of the Port trade.
The beneficio is expressed as a certain number of pipes (of 550 litres) you are permitted to make from a hectare of Grade A vineyards, with a reduced amount for Grade B, further reduced for Grade C etc. The gradings are based on a complex but transparent (and probably now outdated) matrix of quality indicators such as altitude, soil type and many other things I don't remember.

As a grape farmer who is also a producer, you add up your entitlement from each of your parcels and this is the total volume of Port you can register with the IVDP. If you are just a farmer you are entitled to sell your grapes to a Producer and transfer your beneficio with the grapes. You cannot (legally) sell just your beneficio and retain all your grapes to make table wine although, in practice, it might be very difficult to track the volume of grapes you sell when you sell the yield from a particular vineyards and to tie that back to the volume of grapes you'd need to make the volume of Port permitted to be registered from that vineyard under the beneficio it has been awarded.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by JacobH » 12:13 Tue 13 Oct 2020

Thanks for this, Alex. That’s how I expected it to work but was confused about some of the other comments, although one can easily see how fraud might take place, considering the volume of grapes traveling around the Douro in the harvest season.

I’ve also been encouraged to look at the benefício in a bit more detail. There is a helpful summary in an article called “Port wine” by Nathalie E. Moreira from which I have taken the following tables. (Sorry for not typing them out: I can never get that bit of phpBB to work).

Firstly, the scoring. I am really struck by how complex it is (and the quixotic range for “slope”!). I also wonder how some of these factors are applied in practice. For example, is higher or lower yield better? And is trellising a good or bad thing?
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The classification of the vineyards goes right down to “I”, although Ms Moreira comments that “grape must from vineyards of
class F are frequently excluded from the benefício”. I presume she means “F and below”. She also comments that “to have an idea of the quantities involved, 313,943 pipes (a cooperage volume) of wine were produced in 2005, of which only 155,125 were given a benefício”, so about 50% of total volume.
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Something that intrigues me is the lower placed vineyards. A few websites comment that only 2-2½% of vineyards are graded A or B with James Suckling saying that most of them overlook the Douro or one of its tributaries. Yet, trying to find any information about any Class B or below places is really hard. Only Herman Gerdingh’s InfoPortWine (as preserved by DRT) makes any comment about some of them. I think this shows that even if you think you have a good knowledge of the places listed in, say, Alex Liddel’s or Richard Mayson’s books, you are really only looking at a tiny fraction of the Port-producing quintas.

[Sorry: images are a mess. Will sort out in due course! ]

[Edit: I’m really sorry: I can’t get the inline images to work at all...]
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by winesecretary » 16:24 Tue 13 Oct 2020

What strikes me about that classification system is that location, location, location is key to high classification: 901 plus-points (and 980 minus-points) available. Soil and viticulture only add up to 660 plus-points (but up to 2,000 minus points). So, to put it another way, bad viticultural practices and the wrong type of soil can drown you but good viticultural practices and the right kind of soil cannot float you to the top.

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by JacobH » 17:12 Tue 13 Oct 2020

winesecretary wrote:
16:24 Tue 13 Oct 2020
What strikes me about that classification system is that location, location, location is key to high classification: 901 plus-points (and 980 minus-points) available. Soil and viticulture only add up to 660 plus-points (but up to 2,000 minus points). So, to put it another way, bad viticultural practices and the wrong type of soil can drown you but good viticultural practices and the right kind of soil cannot float you to the top.
I noticed that, too. It must also militate any attempt to set up a new significant vineyard somewhere non-traditional in the demarcated zone. I had often wondered why there seemed to have been only one major attempt—Ramos Pinto’s Quinta de Ervamoira, I think—in the last 50-or-so years.
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by Andy Velebil » 19:18 Tue 13 Oct 2020

JacobH wrote:
winesecretary wrote:
16:24 Tue 13 Oct 2020
What strikes me about that classification system is that location, location, location is key to high classification: 901 plus-points (and 980 minus-points) available. Soil and viticulture only add up to 660 plus-points (but up to 2,000 minus points). So, to put it another way, bad viticultural practices and the wrong type of soil can drown you but good viticultural practices and the right kind of soil cannot float you to the top.
I noticed that, too. It must also militate any attempt to set up a new significant vineyard somewhere non-traditional in the demarcated zone. I had often wondered why there seemed to have been only one major attempt—Ramos Pinto’s Quinta de Ervamoira, I think—in the last 50-or-so years.
Given the comment, It should be noted that the demarcated region has expanded over the years. The original was rather small compared to what it is now. Quinta do Crasto has a couple of the original limit markers still on their property to give you an idea. There have been new projects in the far eastern region. About 8-10 years ago Crasto build a large whole new vineyard way out by the Spain border. It’s for table wine and they use irrigation.

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by JacobH » 19:47 Tue 13 Oct 2020

Andy Velebil wrote:
19:18 Tue 13 Oct 2020
Given the comment, It should be noted that the demarcated region has expanded over the years. The original was rather small compared to what it is now. Quinta do Crasto has a couple of the original limit markers still on their property to give you an idea. There have been new projects in the far eastern region. About 8-10 years ago Crasto build a large whole new vineyard way out by the Spain border. It’s for table wine and they use irrigation.
I didn’t know that. Considering global warming, you might expect the future of the Port industry to move back downstream rather than upstream (as was the case for much of the last 150 years) unless you have a very reliable irrigation system...

There are some other oddities about the demarcated area. For example, I’ve never been quite able to work out why there is an exclave around Carrazeda de Ansiães with a big zone that is outside the demarcation going quite a long way towards the river.
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by Andy Velebil » 21:06 Tue 13 Oct 2020

JacobH wrote:
Andy Velebil wrote:
19:18 Tue 13 Oct 2020
Given the comment, It should be noted that the demarcated region has expanded over the years. The original was rather small compared to what it is now. Quinta do Crasto has a couple of the original limit markers still on their property to give you an idea. There have been new projects in the far eastern region. About 8-10 years ago Crasto build a large whole new vineyard way out by the Spain boarder. It’s for table wine and they use irrigation.
I didn’t know that. Considering global warming, you might expect the future of the Port industry to move back downstream rather than upstream (as was the case for much of the last 150 years) unless you have a very reliable irrigation system...

There are some other oddities about the demarcated area. For example, I’ve never been quite able to work out why there is an exclave around Carrazeda de Ansiães with a big zone that is outside the demarcation going quite a long way towards the river.
I don’t know why the cut out you mention. I could speculate, if big enough, it may be due to geological issues not being suitable for any type of vineyards??

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by JacobH » 21:21 Tue 13 Oct 2020

Andy Velebil wrote:
21:06 Tue 13 Oct 2020
I don’t know why the cut out you mention. I could speculate, if big enough, it may be due to geological issues not being suitable for any type of vineyards??
Quite possibly. But I can’t really see anything obvious around it looking at the satellite photos on Google maps. There’s a bit of forest but then you have that in other places that are firmly within the region.

In addition to the the exclave around Carrazeda de Ansiães, sometimes you see maps marking ones further North, like this one which has one just beyond Mirandela. I sometimes wonder if they are genuine or not since you don’t seem them on every map and they seem very far removed from the centre of the region.
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by uncle tom » 10:54 Thu 15 Oct 2020

I don’t know why the cut out you mention.
My understanding is that the areas excluded within the general demarcated area, are areas where the surface geology is not schist (mostly granite, I believe) However, some sandy soils, most notably the Nacional vineyard at Noval; are allowed to remain, possibly because they are small in extent.

Significant players in the port trade are of the opinion that the demarcated area is too large. Without naming names, I have in the past heard them discussing quite seriously the removal of the Douro Superior in its entirety.
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by Andy Velebil » 15:03 Thu 15 Oct 2020

uncle tom wrote:
I don’t know why the cut out you mention.
My understanding is that the areas excluded within the general demarcated area, are areas where the surface geology is not schist (mostly granite, I believe) However, some sandy soils, most notably the Nacional vineyard at Noval; are allowed to remain, possibly because they are small in extent.

Significant players in the port trade are of the opinion that the demarcated area is too large. Without naming names, I have in the past heard them discussing quite seriously the removal of the Douro Superior in its entirety.
That last part isn’t going to happen now...or ever.

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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by uncle tom » 15:51 Thu 15 Oct 2020

That last part isn’t going to happen now...or ever.
If you'd heard the conversation, and saw who was advocating it, you wouldn't say never..
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I shall be sober and you will still be ugly - W.S. Churchill

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Axel P
Fonseca 1980
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Location: Langenfeld, near Cologne, Germany
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Re: Beneficio and emergency measures of the IVDP

Post by Axel P » 16:55 Thu 15 Oct 2020

What a fantastic conversation. Thank you all for contributing.

I have some homework now and get back to you soon.

All best

Axel
worldofport.com
o-port-unidade.com

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