Quinta do Noval - exceptional red wines

Quinta do Noval’s red wine project (in its present guise) began in 1996, three years after the estate was bought by AXA Millesimes. (Previous owner Cristiano Van Zeller was working on a joint venture with Domingos Soares Franco of José Maria da Fonseca at the end of the 1980s). It took eight years for Noval to release their first wine, the 2004 vintage, which I placed in poll position with 19 points in a tasting of rich reds for The World of Fine Wine magazine. This was followed by the 2005 which was equally well received.  Noval bypassed the 2006 vintage preferring to release the wine under a second label, Cedro do Noval. The successful 2007 harvest has spawned both wines along with a newcomer, the first 100 % Syrah from the Douro.   

 Quinta do Noval 2007, Douro DOC ****

 A blend of 50% Touriga Nacional with 40% Touriga Franca and 10% Tinto Cão aged for in French oak for 18 months. Very deep opaque colour; immediately attractive, fine, scented aromas, floral (Touriga Nacional), some Port-like berry fruit, intense, tight-knit with considerably more to give; ripe plum and berry fruit, round and fleshy, suave yet fresh with lovely purity of flavour, firm, fine-grained tannins, well integrated oak, solid backbone, lovely now but with much more to give (better after two days on ullage which is always a good sign). Very well balanced: the relatively high level of alcohol (14.5%) doesn’t show through. Combines elegance with richness and power. 18+

Cedro do Noval 2007, Vinho Regional Duriense  ***

 The second wine of Quinta do Noval named after the giant cedar tree that stands in front of the house. A blend of 30% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca, 30% Syrah (hence the 'Duriense' designation) and 10% Tinta Roriz, aged in French oak and bottled slightly earlier than the Quinta do Noval. Mid-deep youthful ruby; fresh and aromatic on the nose, slightly floral with a backdrop of well integrated oak; fresh, sappy, middle weight blackberry and cherry fruit with some savoury oak, very forthcoming, lovely now and over the next three to five years. 16.5  

Quinta do Noval, Labrador 2007, Vinho Regional Duriense (in bottle but not yet released). ***

 Made entirely from Syrah (not therefore entitled to Douro DOC) and named in honour of the dog belonging to wine maker António Agrellos: mid-deep youthful ruby; fragrant, light, peppery berry fruit character with more than a touch of smoky - savoury new oak; similarly spicy on the palate, fresh and well balanced, not especially intense, in fact somewhat stretched suggesting of young vines, elegant in style but rather short, tailing off on the finish leaving nothing but new wood. Well crafted but lacking in gravitas. One to watch for the future.  15

Scoring

19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty