The Launch of a New Nacional

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’.  

After fifteen years that ‘later date’ has now arrived at a time when many a Vintage Port would be going through notoriously spotty adolescence.  As Seely reports: ‘all great Vintage Port retains its youthfulness for a long time but with Nacional this characteristic is exaggerated…’ So should one expect a wine still in its full bloom of youth or one that is belatedly starting to go through puberty?  I couldn’t wait to find out. 

But just before you read on, it is worth recording that only tiny quantities of this wine are produced, from a single plot of old, ungrafted vines located just above the drive to Noval. The grapes are foot trodden in the time honoured way, in granite lagares at Quinta do Noval. More information on this legendary win can be found in my book Port and the Douro. There are also extensive notes on earlier vintages of Noval Nacional on this website.   

Quinta do Noval Nacional 2001  *****

From a year that began with a torrentially wet winter, 2001 produced a fairly large crop that, in general terms, made good, medium-distance wines, mostly declared as single-quinta vintage following the universal declaration of the 2000 vintage. As is so often the case with Nacional this is not the deepest of wines in terms of colour but still showing its youthful purple rim; stunningly beautiful on the nose, surprisingly open with and old fashioned, waxy, floral fragrance followed by liquorice as the wine opens up in the glass. Gentle, even elegant on the palate initially with ripe liquorice-like concentration backed by ripe, dusty tannins and leading to a rich, supple finish. By no means the biggest or most showy of wines, it combines the power, elegance and poise of old fashioned vintage Port. Hugely enjoyable now, but near-infanticide to drink. Approach again with care in about ten years (if you can find it): it will last a lifetime.  19   

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