Berry Bros & Rudd, winemakers to the Queen, have seen a sensational upswing in their sales of vintage port this year, better than those in the 1990s, and reminiscent of port's zenith in the 1970s, according to The Daily Telegraph.

They've sold £1m worth of port in 12 months, reflecting an 80% increase in sales.

Sales are being assisted by the declaration of 2007 as a vintage year.

Port makers declare roughly three out of 10 years as vintage years (including 2003 and 2000) if they think the flavour is good enough.

It's usually at its best a quarter of a century later.

Port is still mostly made by English family winemakers in Douro Valley, Portugal, some of whom have been making it since before the French Revolution.

The decision on whether a year is vintage is declared on St George's day two years after the bottling.

There had been some question over whether to declare 2007 as vintage not because of the port itself, which is almost universally agreed to be excellent, but because it was felt by some that with the recession in full swing sales might suffer if it was declared.

Paul Symington, of the Warre, Dow and Graham labels was concerned, but determined not to make the same mistake as his great-grandfather had in refusing to declare 1931 port as vintage following the Wall Street Crash, when sales turned out to be just fine.

Veteran collectors may not be so surprised that the rich, sweet dessert wine has bucked the trend.

A bottle of vintage port worth £30 is more likely to increase in value as it ages than any non-fortified wine retailing at ten times the price, and worried investors may consider port safer than most shares in the long run.

The 2007 version is currently available for £22-38 per bottle on an en primeur basis, meaning that they own it undelivered and only pay the £2.15 VAT once they actually receive it. 


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