Quinta do Noval, Vintages and Colheitas 2016 - 1937

António Agrellos, Technical Director of Quinta do Noval, retired at the end of 2017 after working quietly in the background for 24 years. He is rightly credited with a revival in Noval’s fortunes, the estate having underperformed (sometimes woefully) in the 1970s and 1980s. Agrellos is replaced by another Agrellos; his nephew Carlos who I have known over a number of years for his work at Quinta do Côtto, with the Symingtons and with cork producer Amorim. Carlos also has his own wine producing property in the Douro, Quinta do Espinhal. With AXA and Managing Director Christian Seely behind him, Noval is in safe hands. 

Most of the wines below are a tribute to António Agrellos (a few pre-date him, though the colheitas are largely his doing).  The line up includes a ‘perfect Port’ (or as near perfect as it gets), which I have awarded full marks to for the second time. All the wines were listed in the order they are tasted.  

Quinta do Noval 2016     **** / *****

Powerful aromas, still raw and dusty, closing in on itself; ripe, spicy fruit backed by firm tannins with bitter-sweet intensity, powerful, structured finish with a tannic flourish. 6,000 cases declared. Drink: 2030 – 2055 18.5

Quinta do Noval 2015   **** 

Very deep and opaque; tight knit on the nose, the wine has shut down on itself, a touch spirity; lovely cherry stone fruit, fresh and well defined, not as big as the 2016, fine grained tannins, lovely acidity and great elegance all the way through to the finish. 3,000 cases declared. Drink: 2028 - 2045 +  18 

Quinta do Noval 2003   **** / *****

Still very deep and youthful in colour; wonderfully extrovert and opulent on the nose, mint and classic floral aromas; sweet suave and fleshy, voluptuous plum and berry fruit, lovely definition, the flesh masks the tannins which rise in the mouth leading to a rich and powerful finish. Lovely now but better still in five years. Drink: now (just)  –  2045 18.5

Quinta do Noval 2000   *** / ****

Deep at the centre, just turning on the rim; a rather ugly on the nose, hot, leathery and demure; similarly rather ungainly on the palate initially, rich savoury fruit emerging with powerful tannic grip mid-palate and on to the finish. Possibly still going through a difficult adolescent phase, needing a few more years to emerge. Drink: 2023 – 2050 16.5 + ?

Quinta do Noval 1966   ****/*****

Surprisingly, not all that expressive on the nose, rich, ripe and open but not singing from the glass; lovely liquorice and dark chocolate fruit, all there, still very fresh with good tannic grip mid-palate and on to a powerful, spicy finish. Holding up really well. Drink: Now – 2035 + 18.5

Quinta do Noval Nacional 2016   *****      

Very deep and opaque, tight knit berry fruit on the nose, demure; firm and foursquare yet suave and seamless on the palate, a fresh streak of acidity with fine grained linear tannins leading to a powerful, structured finish. Seemingly drier than the straight Noval 2016.  Just 200 cases declared. Drink from: 2035 – 2055.  19.5 

Quinta do Noval Nacional 2003  ***** 

Late picked (mid-October) despite the hot summer: still very deep dark and opaque with a thin crimson rim; beautifully and an unexpectedly open on the nose with a magnificent floral fragrance: violets and rose petals. Haunting. Ripe and plummy, quite opulent initially with lovely ripe broad tannins, rising in the mouth, bitter chocolate intensity mid-palate yielding to a glorious finish. Massive yet supremely elegant at the same time. Already impressive but better still in five years. 350 cases declared. Drink 2023 – 2050 +  20

Quinta do Noval Nacional 1994  ****/*****

Mid deep in colour, still looking youthful on the rim; rich liquorice-like aromas, underlying power and still not giving all on the nose; savoury richness on the palate, dark chocolate intensity with ripe, powerful tannins rising in the mouth and a tough tannic finish. This needs yet more time in bottle to emerge. Just 190 cases declared. Drink 2023 – 2050 +   18.5
Quinta do Noval Colheita 2003    *** 

Mid-garnet in colour, tawny rim, quite deep in hue for a colheita; suave, creamy aromas still with a piquant touch of spirit; milk chocolate fruit, silky initially but with peppery tannins still evident leading to an angular finish.  Still at an in-between stage in its evolution but rather lovely for that. Look out for future bottlings of this wine when it will garner a higher mark.  16
Quinta do Noval 1995   ****

Pale tawny with an amber-orange rim; delicate, lifted and high-toned on the nose with beautiful sweet, silky milk chocolate fruit, a vestigial dusting of tannin, retaining depth and richness, leading to a long, suave finish.  17  

Quinta do Noval  Colheita 1976    *****

Mid-amber tawny with a touch of olive green on the rim; gloriously lifted on the nose, heady and complex with Elvas plums and fine-cut orange marmalade richness with a touch of allspice, wonderful texture mid-palate and grapefruit-like acidity cutting through the richness onto a long, lithe finish. An outstanding colheita, to my mind at just the right stage in its evolution.   19

Quinta do Noval Colheita 1937  ****/*****

Mid-deep tawny / mahogany hue; distinctly lifted balsamic character on the nose, maderised (in an entirely good way) with rich, caramelised toffee-apple fruit with a gloriously pungent finish.  Venerable and impressive.    18.5 


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