Taylor, Fonseca and Croft 1996 - 2009

This selection of wines from the Fladgate Partnership was presented by David Guimaraens and Natasha Bridge in the tasting room at the Fonseca lodge during a recent visit to Porto.

It includes a re-taste of the recently declared 2009 vintage as well as a number of single estate wines from the three houses that make up the Fladgate Partnership. 

The wines are presented in the order they were tasted.


Quinta de Terra Feita 1999 ***

Very deep youthful colour, purple rim; dense initially, surprisingly closed but some fragrance eventually opening up in the glass; something slightly earthy / minerally, soft, sweet and fleshy, just about ready with a firm grippy finish, perhaps a touch lean. Now – 2020 15.

Quinta de Terra Feita 2001 ****

Again, deep and youthful, purple rim; again not very expresive initially, hint of floral perfume and a touch of dark chocolate underlying; full, fleshy, broad and sweet, ripe broad tannins keep rising in the mouth. Chunky finish. Now – 2025  17

Quinta de Vargellas 2001 ****

Very deep, closed and dense, solid and foursqaure; full and fleshy initially with lovely pure berry fruit mid-palate, solid tannin structure rising towards an explosive finish. A keeper 18.

Taylor 2007 ****

Very deep, opaque and closed, sullen with underlying density; rich, lovely weight and texture, fine-grained tannins with lovely pure berry fruit showing through mid-palate and rapier-like tannins on the finish.   17

Vargellas Vinha Velha 2007 ****

Not quite as deep in colour as the Taylor 07, a trait that I have noticed previously; very elegant, pure and refined on the nose, berry fruit; same on the palate, fine, pure, elegant with firm tannins, not big but already refined and beautiful. 17.5

Quinta de Terra Feita 2008 *** / ****

Deep black, opaque, youthful, still raw and peppery, spirit not yet married, lovely sweet fleshy fruit, ripe tannic structure, dense with peppery tannins on the finsh with something minerally about it. 16.5

Quinta de Vargellas 2008 ****

Not quite as deep in colour as the Terra Feita; lovely aromas, rich, ripe and minty, bigger than the Terra Feita, rich and structured, broad shouldered wine, big broad tannins, dense. Very promising. 17.5   

Taylor 2009 (cask sample) ****

Very deep inky, opaque colour; youthful opulence on the nose, full, big; very ripe, opulent fleshy fruit, soft and broad, muscular, solid yet broad tannic finish. 18

Vargellas Vinha Velha 2009 *****

Again, not quite as deep as the Taylor (above), closed, a touch green with some hedgerow character on the nose, aromatic rather than opulent; dense, tight knit with lovely ripe yet pure berry fruit and forceful rapier-like tannins on the finish. A long term wine with a brilliant future ahead.   19


Fonseca Guimaraens 1996 *

Mid-deep colour, broad, purple rim; not showing well on the nose, hollow, oxidised?, soft but similarly hollow and flat, broad and ripe but lacking dimension and fruit. A poor sample? 12

Quinta do Panascal 1998 ***

Mid-deep, youthful purple rim; open, fragrant and floral, lovely, just as it should be; soft, supple, sweet not big but elegant, quite loose-knit, firm tannic length, nicely balanced mid-term wine. Drink over the next ten years. 16

Quinta do Panascal 1999 *** / ****

Slightly deeper in colour; rich and ripe on the nose, fleshy, full, more tight knit than the 98 with broad ripe tannins and sweet plum-like fruit. More of a keeper. Now – 2025 + 16.5

Quinta do Panascal 2008 ****

Very deep in colour; big and spirity on the nose, still raw, needing time to marry and meld together; heady and rich, suave and fleshy, big, ripe dusty tannins rising in the mouth leading to a chewy, meaty finish. 17

Fonseca Guimaraens 2008 ****

Deep, closed and dense, giving very little away on the nose as yet; rich, ripe and quite powerful like Panascal (above), broad and fleshy with big spicy, peppery tannins and a big finish. Very impressive. 17

Fonseca 2007 **** / *****

Deep colour, tight knit, closed, restrained with very pure fruit underlying; quite full, fleshy initially, dense, restrained and focused, beautifully so, long linear tannins on the finish. This has settled down very well in bottle.18.5

Fonseca 2009 (cask sample) ****

Deep, ripe and opulent, a touch of hedgerow character on the nose, more restrained than Taylor 2009; full, rich and big, sweet and quite hefty (more so than the 2007), ripe, raw tannins, big, bold and peppery, long and supple. 18


Quinta da Roêda 1997 **

Very good, deep colour, just browning on the rim; slightly jammy fruit on the nose, a touch stewed but open mature and rich, soft, ripe and jammy in style, blowsy and full, not much grip. Not much of a keeper: drink now – 2016. 13.5

Quinta da Roêda 2008 ****

Very good youthful colour; lovely fresh aromatic aromas, still a little raw; soft, sweet and plumy, quite big and round with good, broad tannic grip. A good mid-term wine. 2018 – 2030   17

Croft 2007 ****

Very deep, opaque; lovely plum and cherry fruit aromas, quite rich, a touch of dark chocolate, full, dense bitter-sweet character with firm peppery tannins. Developing well in bottle with the purity of the vintage showing on the finish. 17.5

Croft 2009 (cask sample) *** / ****

Very deep, opaque; plummy, big, ripe and heady on the nose; big broad, fleshy sweet plummy style, broad and flattering. Undemanding wine for the medium term. Made entirely from fruit grown at Quinta da Roêda. 16.5

Location: Fonseca, Vila Nova de Gaia


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