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Barca Velha, named after the old barges, which ferried wine down-river, was launched in 1952 and is Portugal's greatest red wine. It is made from high-quality port grapes in a remote corner of the Douro close to the Spanish border. It is the brainchild of Ferreira's chief winemaker, Fernando Nicolau de Almeida, who was inspired by a visit to Bordeaux. Like vintage port, it is declared only in exceptional years, the remainder being declassified as Reserva Especial. Aged in new Portuguese oak, the wines have a solid, spicy character.

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