These wines were tasted at the joint launch of the 2007 vintage in London by the Symington family, the Fladgate Partnership and Quinta do Noval. It was a strange choice of wines to show given that both of these vintages are currently at that adolescent stage of surliness when they are not showing particularly well. The heat of the 2003 vintage comes through on many of the wines in complete contrast to the cool purity of many of the recently declared 2007s which were on show at the same tasting. The wines are listed in the order they were presented.
Croft 2003 ***
Good colour; still perfumed, opulent and plummy in style; rich, loose-knit, very sweet in style with some dark chocolate concentration. Enjoy now or keep ten years but this does not strike me as being a long distance wine. 15.5
Dow 2003 ****
Good colour; closed, dense, already shut down on the nose; quite rich in style for Dow, firm, needing time to knit together, not an easy wine to taste at this stage. 17
Fonseca 2003 **** / *****
Very deep, dark colour; lovely tight-knit perfumed floral aromas; very polished, fine, firm and focused, fine-grained bitter-sweet tannins with bitter chocolate concentration. Showing very well indeed. 18.5
Graham 2003 *** +?
Very good, deep colour; ripe (over-ripe), raisiny, cooked fruit, jammy and withdrawn, sullen and not at all pretty at the moment; dense, rich, quite hot in style, sweet but with burnt, rubbery overtones, sweet opulent finish but not showing well. Just a phase I hope. Reserve judgement. 16 +?
Quinta do Noval 2003 *** +?
Again, very good colour; ugly nose, very ripe, burnt and pruney; fresher on the palate, big, broad, ripe and fleshy, lovely breadth and length but hard to like at this stage in its evolution. Again reserve judgement. 16 +?
Smith Woodhouse 2003 ****
Very good colour; lovely perfumed aromas, open, floral, attractive; sweet and fleshy, cherry fruit flavours, lovely purity, backed by firm tannic grip, mid-weight, showing well now, better at this stage than either Dow or Graham. 17
Silval 2003 ** /***
Good colour, earthy, minerally cherry-stone aromas; fresh showing lovely purity, mid-weight, firm, verging on lean on the finish. Bitter-sweet length. 14.5
Taylor 2003 *****
Very deep, opaque colour; dense, tight-knit, closed, a touch minerally; firm, ripe (not over-ripe), sweet and broad, fine bitter-cherry fruit flavours, well-defined, focus and very good. Huge potential for the long-term. 19
Quinta do Vesúvio 2003 ***
Very good colour; ripe, vibrant, opulent, verging on over-ripe; broad, sweet and plummy, very rich and opulent but not raisiny although the heat shows through on the rather singed finish. 16
Warre 2003 ****
Very good colour; closed, not showing much on the nose; quite ripe, sweet and opulent but supported by firm tannins and balanced by a fine streak of acidity, much fresher in style at this stage than many of the 2003s. 17
Croft 2000 **
Mid-deep, dark centre; open, loose-knit, hollow on the nose; very soft, sweet and quite simple, slightly jammy but appealing to drink now. Mid-weight. This is no more than a 10 - 15 year wine. 14
Dow 2000 ***+
Very good deep colour; closed, sullen, underlying intensity but a touch earthy; quite austere in style, restrained and not showing very much at the moment, bitter chocolate intensity followed by dry tannins. Rather stark and hard to like at this stage. Reserve judgement 16 +?
Fonseca 2000 ****
Very good colour; closed, sullen, totally withdrawn, almost nothing on the nose; lovely polished sweet fruit, suave, silky ripe tannins, rich and complete. Bitter sweet length. 18
Graham 2000 *** +?
Again, very good colour; rather hot, stewed aromas, cooked and pruney; hot and heady, ripe, well rounded tannins, full and voluptuous but not showing much in the way of freshness until the finish. Another wine at a difficult stage in life? 16+?
Quinta do Noval 2000 ****
Very good colour; closed, underlying opulence and ripeness, a touch minty; lovely, sweet, vibrant fruit backed by big, broad tannins, good purity and focus with broad, ripe length. Well balanced. This should go the full distance. 18
Smith Woodhouse 2000 ****
Very deep colour; closed but hot, heady ripeness underlying, menthol character; full, sweet and fleshy, fine breadth with freshness evident on the finish. Long and fresh. Mid to heavy weight. 17
Silval 2000 ** / ***
Deep colour; hot and heady on the nose, stewed fruit; baked aromas and flavours, tannins quite broad and ripe but lacking focus and definition. For fairly early drinking. 14.5
Taylor 2000 **** / *****
Good, deep colour; restrained yet still perfumed, floral aromas underlying; very fresh combining purity and depth of flavour, firm, spicy tanninc grip, fine focus, rapier-like tannins on the finish. This has real poise. The best wine of the vintage? 18.5
Quinta do Vesúvio 2000 ****
Very deep, opaque; closed, underlying richness and ripeness evident; big, opulant and fleshy, ripe but not over-ripe, broad, sweet, rich and plummy with broad tannic length. 17
Warre 2000 *** / ****
Again, very good colour; closed, slighly hot and a touch baked on the nose; rich and slightly stewed on the palate, firm gravelly tannins with purity and definition emerging on the finish. Perhaps at a difficult stage. 16.5
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