Vintage Port -The Chalk Mark
Posted 9 March 2018
by Dia Grigoriou
As we sell quite a lot of vintage port, one of the things we are often asked about is as to why is there a blob of white paint on the Port bottle.
Vintage Port did not legally have to be labelled for sale until it became law with the 1977 Port vintage, so there was often no label to see which way up the bottle was (the vintage and name of the Port would be on the capsule and the cork). Therefore, if the bottle was left one one side the sediment will all collect on one side. Sometimes it is a neat blob of white paint on a vintage Port bottle, other times it is a real splash – and it seems to vary from Port house to Port House and, no doubt, depends who was working in the cellar on particular day.
So to answer the question specifically, the chalk mark sometimes known as the splash mark, is a dash of white chalk or paint placed on the side of a bottle of Vintage Port to show in which position it was stored in the Port house's cellar. Bottles of Vintage Port should be stored lying down to keep the cork moist. The chalk mark is placed on the upper side of the bottle. Any sediment which forms in the bottle will therefore settle on the side opposite to the chalk mark. This is useful information when decanting a bottle of Vintage Port. If the bottle is held with the white mark uppermost, there is less likelihood of the sediment being disturbed. If there is no white mark, as is often now the case, the bottle should be held with the label uppermost.