I am fortunate to have tasted this wine on a number of recent occasions. Until this month it was a 'secret Nacional', bottled but undeclared. The 2004 vintage came hard on the heals of the widely declared 2003 harvest and was treated as a single quinta vintage by most shippers which nonetheless produced some impressive wines. Noval declared both the Nacional and straight Noval.
At Quinta do Noval budburst took place in mid-March followed by a quick flowering at the end of May due to high temperatures and a lack of rainfall. The hot weather continued through July and into August, followed by cooler weather and rain in the second half of the month. With more warm weather in early Sesptember aided by well-timed rain, sugar levels in the grapes rose quickly, taking some by surpise. Picking began on 20th September and continued under uninterrupted sunshine. Not a drop of rain fell until 8th October.
Quinta do Noval Nacional 2004 ****
Very deep, opaque 'black' colour with a thin crimson rim (some sediment in my glass); rich and broad on the nose and palate, surprisingly plush and approachable on this occasion (maybe due to having just finished a tasting of rather tannic Douro reds), dark chocolate depth, seemingly very sweet mid palate, full of puppy fat backed by broad ripe tannins. Lovely pure berry fruit (blueberries) on the finish. Seemingly quite soft for a Nacional, needing more time in bottle to show structure and gain definition. 18
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