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Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2016

Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2016

While many of us were looking to Bordeaux during April, hoping that the annual primeur tastings and ensuing campaign would yield both good quality and sensible prices (the first I found, in part, but I’m not so sure about the second), we may well have overlooked some more significant vinous news coming out of Portugal at this time. Five years after the last broadly declared vintage for Port, back in 2011, a number of the leading names of the Douro came out with a declaration for the 2016 vintage, essentially confirming that 2016 would become the next most widely declared vintage.

Symington Family Estates, which these days means not only Dow’s, Graham’s and Warre’s but also Cockburn’s, came out first in early April, with Quinta do Noval hot on their heels with the news that not only would they release a Vintage Port in this vintage, but 2016 would also see them produce their special cuvée Nacional. The Fladgate Partnership stuck to tradition with a declaration for their three houses, Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft, on St George’s Day, April 23rd, a nod to the long association that Port has with the English wine trade. This makes 2016 the fourth widely declared vintage since the turn of the century, the others being 2011, 2007 and 2000 itself.

Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2016

The 2016 vintage was not an entirely straightforward one for the region, with high levels of rainfall throughout spring and early summer, much the same as Bordeaux, as described in my Bordeaux 2016 report. The weather improved during June and July, turning hot and dry, but the earlier rains had ensured there was plenty of groundwater which would help the vines soldier on through to harvest. Some vines were showing signs of water stress in August, but a little light rain at this time followed by a little more in mid-September freshened them up. Even so, the vintage was still a week behind schedule. Thankfully the fine summer weather continued on into late autumn and the vines were able to ripen their fruit at their own pace. The harvest was executed under perfect conditions.

At Quinta do Noval Christian Seely and his team were pleased by the quality of the vintage, and tasting the newly released wine it is not difficult to understand why. The wine is a blend of Touriga Naçional, Touriga Franc, Tinta Cão and Sousão, the entire harvest trodden by foot, fermented and then aged in wood for eighteen months. Pulling the cork on the 2016 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port now, in this wine’s infancy, was a revelation. The first thing I noticed was the colour, dark and opaque at its heart, glossy, with a vibrant crimson-black-cherry rim. This was nothing compared to the aromatic profile though, which is breathtaking, the nose brimming with floral scents of peonies, rose petals, violets and mint, backed up by a concentrated seam of dark fruits, currants, dried black cherries, dried cranberries and damsons, along with subtle threads of more brooding soot and liquorice. What is remarkable is just how fresh, pure and bright it feels, displaying purity and elegance as much as concentration and confidence. The palate does not disappoint, showing a sleekly elegant textured, so fine-boned and balanced. Beneath this there lies a solid structure of vibrant and polished tannins, lightly peppery, with a warming alcohol, all working harmonious together, rolling into a great length comprising warmth, tannin and rose-petal fruit, but most of all it has precision and linearity. This is a stunning example of what the Douro is capable of, and is surely a reliable indicator of the greatness of this vintage. 96/100 (2/7/18)

Disclosure: This was a sample received from Quinta do Noval.

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