Though challenging, the 2014 harvest in the north of Portugal was not the damp squib that it proved to be in the south. After a wet winter, spring was mild and budburst was early. But the weather remained unsettled through the early part of the summer, with some vineyards suffering localized hail damage. In early July an unusually heavy rainstorm caused severe erosion and many farm tracks were blocked by rock falls. The remaining summer months were mild rather than hot but with the early budburst, picking began as early 11 September in parts of the Cima Corgo.
Vintage Port Notes January 2017
This is the fourth in a series of fifty year old Ports from Taylor. The wine was aged in pipe (cask) until it was bottled in 2016 for release this year. As a result it is an aged tawny in style, bottled as ‘Single Harvest’ and effectively a colheita in Portuguese parlance. Apart from being the year of a launch of the QE2 and the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967 was also a vintage that was felt worthy of declaration by some.
The 2001 vintage of Quinta do Noval Nacional was officially declared in 2003 but the wine was never released. According to Christian Seely, Managing Director of Noval, the 2001 ‘was very backward and quite closed up, dense and very tannic. Since we had just declared the 2000 Nacional, we decided to laydown the 250 cases of Nacional 2001 that were produced and keep them back for release at a later date’.
Quinta do Vallado celebrated its tercentenary in 2016. To commemorate this, the family have bottled a wine that has been held in cask since 1888. Three 650 litre pipes, set aside in 1888, have been reduced through years evaporation to just 700 litres. The wine comes from pre-phylloxera vines and is named after António Bernado Ferreira (ABF) who bought the quinta in 1818. The wine is offered for sale in an Atlantis crystal decanter and a walnut case – there are just 300 bottles. Happily I managed to drink a generous glass on a cold January day in the UK.
I spent that back end of 2016 tasting tawny Ports both for an article in Decanter, (entitled 'Understanding Tawny Port' ) http://www.decanter.com/wine/wine-regions/port/understanding-tawny-port-... as well as an article for The Field on my favorite Ports of all time (yet to be published). Here is a list of the tawnies that made it into the Decanter article (as well as a few that didn’t):
Ferreira 10 Year Old White ****
When policemen start looking younger, it comes as sign that you are getting older. The same feeling comes when you start drinking Vintage Ports that you remember being declared, two decades earlier. So it was just before Christmas (at the end of a long lunch) when we drank two wines from classic declarations the 1990s. I distinctly recall the debate at Decanter magazine over the 1994 declaration when one or two members of the tasting panel expressed the opinion that the wines were no longer made to last.