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Vintage Ports are at the top of the Port Wine pyramid. Vintage port wine is the product of a single year, stated on the label as with ordinary table wine, that is bottled after two or three years' cask ageing. Each shipper must decide within two years of the harvest whether the wine of a particular year is going to be fine enough to be released, unblended, as a vintage port. This is known as "declaring" the vintage. Good years such as 1985 may result in a universal declaration among the major shippers. Vintage port requires ageing in the bottle by the customer, and will always throw a sediment. Some, such as the relatively light 1980s, will only need a few years; other vintages, like the legendary 1977, may take a quarter of a century and more before they are ready for drinking. 

It is said that the origin of the vintage Ports goes back to the last third of the 18th century when cylindrical bottles first appeared. Their shape meant that the Port could be aged whilst the bottle was lying on its side.

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