2017 Vintage Port

 

This is my definitive take on the widely declared 2017 Port vintage. I don’t give my final notes / marks until I have tasted most of the wines at least three times (where I have only tasted a wine once I say so in the note.) The wines are listed in alphabetical order with marks out of twenty (with a corresponding star rating out of five). For more information on the background to the vintage please see my earlier post, first impressions. There are some magnificent wines to be found from 2017 as you will see below. I am particularly grateful to the Port Forum for the opportunity to taste many of these wines, some for the fourth and final time, others (from smaller growers) for the one and only time. I am also grateful for the opportunity to taste 2017 Ports at Primeira Prova, Régua in June 2019.    

Alves de Sousa 2017 **
From a large family estate with vineyards mostly in the Baixo Corgo, ripe but rather stewed on the nose, on the one occasion that I tasted this I found it showing a rather hot country, ill-defined soupy character; big, broad and sweet initially with firm tannins rising in the mouth and a gravelly tannic finish. 14  

Alves de Sousa, Quinta de Gaivosa ***
From the family’s flagship quinta in the Caixo Corgo: deep in colour, open, opulent ripe seductive fruit, wild and a bit green, mid-weight, touch of liquorice, firm rather lean tannins leading to a fresh finish. 15

Bulas 2017 ***
This family owned estate with two vineyards near Gouvinhas in the Cima Corgo is a name to watch:  lovely open, minty-plummy aromas; well-defined on the palate, soft and fleshy initially with voluptuous sweetness, firm chalky tannins rising in the mouth giving good grip on the finish. Lovely length, good mid-term wine.  16

Burmester  2017  **
From Quinta do Arnozelo in the Douro Superior, a blend of Touriga Franca (50%), Touriga Nacional (45%) and Tinta Roriz (5%):  rather raw on the nose, sweet and succulent, loose-knit with firm gravelly tannins, mid-weight, doesn’t hang together very well at this stage and seems rather disjointed and one dimensional on the finish.  14   

Cockburn 2017 **** 
Mostly from Quinta dos Canais with 52% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca backed by Sousão and Alicante Bouschet:  this is the third full declaration in a row after 2016 and 2015 (when did this last happen from a major house like Cockburn?). One of few wines from 2017 showing a touch of warmth on the nose, opulent, heady floral fruit; sweet and fleshy initially with ripe berry fruit and solid spicy tannins, classically structured with lovely concentration and a powerful finish. Perhaps not showing the freshness of some 17s but very impressive. This is well-priced (approx. £500 per dozen) and looks to be one of the best value wines of the vintage. 18  

Quinta do Crasto 2017 ****
Well located family owned property in the Cima Corgo, famous for its Douro reds but capable of making very good vintage Port , 1950 for example:  gloriously ripe opulent aromas, restrained cherry and berry fruit, by no means the biggest of the 17s, ripe fruit backed by firm, tight-knit spicy tannins rising in the mouth leading to a supple, sinewy finish. 17

Croft 2017 ****/*****
Croft has developed its own rather ripe, voluptuous and sometimes rather jammy style in recent years, distinguishing the wine from the firmer, perhaps more challenging character of Fonseca and Taylor. Perhaps 2017 has been especially kind to the predominantly south-facing Quinta da Roêda which provides the ‘cornerstone’ of this Port: surprisingly demure on the nose with plump juicy fruit underlying, ripe plums and cherries; similarly plump and voluptuous initially in true Croft style with a wonderfully ripe, broad tannic core rising in the mouth, dense and rather gorgeous all the way through to a fresh, vibrant finish. This is the best Vintage Port from Croft since the 1960s and at around £500 a dozen is well priced.  It may well be the wine of the vintage. 18.5       

Croft, Quinta da Roeda,  Serikos 2017 ****/*****
Serikos means ‘silky’ in Greek and this is Croft’s first super-premium vintage form the oldest vines at Quinta da Roêda, planted between 1889 and 1900 in the wake of phylloxera. Made exclusively from these so called ‘heritage plots’ Serikos is deep and youthful with ripe but gentle minty fruit, a touch herbal too with a hint of rose petal, (however a touch of stewed plum also came out on second tasting); so sweet and succulent that the tannins are almost hidden on the palate but they are most certainly there, fine grained with lovely minty, herbal freshness mid-palate and on to the mouthwateringly fresh finish. Not particularly big but supremely elegant in style. 18.5         

Dow  2017 ****/***** 
Based on Quinta do Bomfim in the Cima Corgo and Quinta Senhora da Ribeira in the Douro Superior, both predominantly south facing with Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca making up 80% of the blend: opaque, closed in but powerfully ripe pure, berry fruit underlying, seemingly quite introverted compared to some wines at this stage: full, rich and opulent on the palate, this also shows the latent power of the vintage, made as it is in a slightly drier style (3.4 Baumé), lovely minty fruit and full, ripe sinewy tannins all the way through the finish. Long and lithe. Very fine.   18.5

Churchill 2017 ***
There is something strangely unappealing about Churchill’s Vintage Port on the nose, especially when the wines are young:  sappy, green and stalky on the nose, much better on the palate, ripe wild berry fruit, vibrant peppery tannins and a streak of freshness. Needs time to come together perhaps – time will tell. I recently missed the opportunity to taste some older vintage Ports form Churchill which would have been a good indication as to how the wines evolve in bottle 15

Churchill’s Quinta da Gricha 2017 ***
Churchill’s also bottled a small quantity of Port from their flagship quinta: similarly odd sappy, vegetal aromas initially, unappealing at this stage though these do subside on re-tasting; fleshy fruit on the palate, cherry and plum, backed by broad ripe tannins leading to a full finish. 15 

Duorum 2017 *
Only tasted on one occasion:  very deep inky colour, lifted and burnt on the nose, spirit showing through, rather coarse perhaps a bit too lifted for me; wild fruit on the palate, big, rich and solid in style but I really question the volatility that I found on the nose. 11

Ferreira, Quinta do Porto 2017 ****
Ferreira passed on an outright declaration of the 2017 vintage preferring to declare a single quinta wine, only tasted on one occasion but this looks impressive: very deep inky colour, quite closed and dense on the nose, lovely rich pure fruit backed by solid, spicy tannins. All there with a big finish. Excellent value. Half the price of the fully declared wines.  17

Fonseca 2017 ****
The last back-to-back Fonseca vintage was 1933/1934: open and in its first bloom of youth with lovely aromatic red berry fruit and floral aromas, a touch leafy too: soft and fleshy initially, seemingly not as big as Taylor’s (and not quite so deep in colour), though with dark chocolate concentration mid-palate firm, lovely full, ripe tannins massing in the mouth, well defined with fresh berry fruit remerging on the broad expansive finish. Already beautifully integrated, showing great purity and poise.  18        

Graham 2017 ****/*****
Based on Touriga Franca from south facing slopes at Quinta dos Malvedos with Touriga Nacional from quintas Vila Velha and Vale de Mealhadas (both predominantly north facing) topped out with fruit from old vines at Quinta da Tua and 10% Sousão: very deep blue-black colour: expressive, super ripe on the nose, plum, mint and bergamot spring from the glass; rich, velvety and voluptuous in typical Graham’s style (3.9 Baumé), the initial richness makes the tannins which show up on the long, ripe broad, fresh, mouthwatering finish. Wonderful purity and definition. A real wow of a wine! 5,250 cases declared. 18.5  

Graham’s The Stone Terraces 2017 *****
The fourth release of this wine from these east and north-east facing traditional stone terraces at Quinta dos Malvedos: magnificent colour and an extraordinary nose, lifted and powerfully ripe with glorious floral aromas overlying; succulent berry fruit, massive concentration, magnificent, the quintessence of the finest Douro fruit, powerful muscular tannins stack up to a broad and ripe finish leaving a mouthwatering almost burgundian freshness that seems to be one of the hallmarks of the best wines in this vintage.  Outstanding. Just 6,360 bottles in total.  19.5    

Quinta do Javali  2017 **
A small property on the south bank of the Douro near Nagozelo, close to the border with the Douro Superior: deep in colour, on the light side and made in a drier style (2.9 Baumé), open, rather simple and one dimensional and lean though correct and well made.  14

Kopke  2017 ***
From medium to low altitude plots at Quinta de São Luiz, a 50/50 blend of old vines and Touriga Nacional:  open on the nose, still a touch raw and green around the edges; some lovely ripe berry fruit backed by firm dry, puckering tannins but without the breadth of the best wines in this line up. More structured than its stablemate, Burmester. 15.5  

Krohn 2017 ***/****

Only tasted on one occasion:open, attractive minty aromas, with lovely purity of fruit on the palate, mid-weight, relatively soft and sweet in style, fine grained tannins and a fresh, lithe finish. Now a name to reckon with inside the Fladgate Partnership.  16.5 

Marthas 2017 ***

From a family estate in the Corgo valley, only tasted on once: open, ripe summer fruit on the nose; sweet berry fruit on the palate, ripe and round with a firm tannic backbone, vibrant, and rather good, with some lovely freshness on the finish. A mid-weight, middle distance wine. 16 

Maynard’s 2017  **
A shipper belonging to Barão de Vilar, owned by a branch of the Van Zeller family, tasted on one occasion:  attractive, open, plummy summer fruits, quite light and linear in style, very one dimensional on the finish.  Simple but attractive wine to drink in ten years.  14 

Maynard’s (Organic) 2017 ***
One of two vintage Ports from this house, this from organically grown grapes, only tasted on one occasion: open, on the nose gentle minty ripeness, soft initially with some milk chocolate depth, firm tannins rising in the mouth, linear tannic finish, slightly coarse at this stage. 15

Niepoort 2017 **** 
Closed, dense, ripe cherry fruit, perhaps just a touch lifted?  Ripe and fleshy in style with a solid tight-knit tannic core, all there with a wonderful finish, powerful and expansive with ripe cherry richness resurfacing on the finish. Not the biggest wine in the line up but already showing poise and finesse.17.5      

Quinta do Noval 2017 ****/*****
Noval spills over into two valleys from Pinhão to Roncão which contribute two very different terroirs to the blend though both predominantly south facing: heady Douro aromas, open ripe plummy fruit with a touch of dust and eucalypt, wild and aromatic; dense, smooth and seductive on the palate with firm, dusty-minerally (schistous) tannins rising on to a fresh, linear finish, beautifully defined and integrated. 3,500 cases declared.  18.5     

Quinta do Noval Nacional  2017 *****
A field blend of old, ungrafted vines at the heart of the Noval estate, yielding tiny amounts of fruit: not quite as deep in colour as some of the more ‘modern’ wines; demure but dense and tight knit on the nose with some Douro warmth showing through; rich and velvety initially, dense, lovely dark chocolate and liquorice concentration mid-palate wrapped around fine broad tannins which pile up in the mouth leading to a peacocks tail of a finish. A wow of a wine showing great power, poise and integration.  19.5 

Quinta de Pessegueiro **
French owned estate in the Cima Corgo, tasted only on one occaision:  deep colour, open and a bit weedy on the nose, herbaceous, sweet and simple on the palate, medicinal fruit, lovely now but not really a wine to keep for the long term. 14 

Pintas ***
From a vineyard in the Pinhão valley: open, aromatic, floral, not especially big but very elegant berry fruit and boney-peppery tannins on the finish, long and linear. A rather lovely wine for drinking over the medium term. 16

Poças 2017 ****
Sweet, ripe tomatoes come to mind on the nose with a touch of tar and liquorice. Plump with milk chocolate depth and intensity, super sauve and ripe on the palate initially with firm, fine grained puckering tannins to back up the fruit and define the finish. All there, multi-layered with a big bold tannic finish. Impressive. 17    

Portal 2017 ***
Very deep and inky colour; dense and dusty on the nose touch herbal too; rich and opulent but seemingly rather soupy in style, lacking definition, quite extractive with dusty-gritty tannins, perhaps over balanced. However the freshness of the fruit re-asserts itself on the finish. 15

Portal, Quinta dos Muros 2017 **/***   
One of two wines from Portal, this from the Mansilha family’s best estate in the upper Pinhão valley:  good colour, hedgerow and green tea aromas, mid-weight, spicy touch minty, firm rather green tannins on the finish. Overall rather lean in context. 14.5

Quevedo **
A family estate with over 100 ha of vines in the Cima Corgo and Douro Superior. The vintage Port is based on Quinta Vale d’Agodinho near Ferradosa in the Douro Superior: very ripe in style, shows the heat on the nose and palate, jammy fruit, bold, grippy tannins which rather dominate the fruit on the finish. Somehow rather unbalanced compared to most of the wines from this vintage. 14

Ramos Pinto  2017 **** 
Based on grape form Quinta do Bom Retiro in the Rio Torto and Quinta da Ervamoira in the Douro Superior: demure initially on the nose, lovely pure berry fruit, sweet, fleshy and well defined, backed by tight-knit tannins which build to a crescendo, leading to a peacock’s tail of a finish. Lovely freshness and balance evident too.  A triumph. 18

Ramos Pinto, Quinta da Ervamoira 2017 ***
Ramos Pinto also declared a single quinta wine from Ervamoira in 2017, a property located in the Coa Valley in the Douro Superior: more loose knit and a touch green on the nose; soft and ripe with touch of toffeed sweetness and firm dusty tannin. Lacks the dimension of its grander sibling. 16 

Quinta da Romaneira 2017 ****
Co-owned by Christian Seely, Managing Director of Quinta do Noval and located just upstream on the north back of the Douro; lifted and aromatic on the nose with a lovely herbal, green tea character on the nose; very pure black cherry fruit, immediately appealing with lovely definition, fir, spicy-sinewy tannins, not as big as some but makes up for this with this immediacy and beauty. One for the medium term.  17  

Quinta de la Rosa **/*** +?
A family owned quinta just downstream from Pinhão: wild berry fruit with spirit showing through on the nose, a bit spirity on the palate too,  still a bit raw, this needs time to knit together, mid-weight, lovely pure berry fruit underlying, leaving a fresh finish. 14.5 +?

Quinta de São José 2017 ***
A small estate belonging to the Brito e Cunha family, located on the south bank of the Douro in the Cima Corgo:  demure on the nose, dusty, mid-weight some gentle berry fruit and relatively soft tannins, a lovely fresh expressive finish if a little lean. Good in its class.  16

Quinta da Sequeira 2017 **
A family estate in the upper part of the Coa valley in the Douro Superior: open, ripe, touch of tar, soft and fleshy, a touch saline but not much grip, mid-weight, rather a lean tannic finish. Rather Simple. 13   
 
Skeffington 2017 ***  
A blend of wines from the Fladgate Partnership, effectively their second wine: mid-deep in colour; soft, very loose knit, some plummy fruit on the nose; seductively sweet in style, spicy tannins leading to a firm finish, but lacking the freshness and definition of some. 15 

Taylor 2017 ****/*****
A blend from predominantly north-facing Quinta de Vargellas in the Douro Superior and quintas Terras Feita and Junco in the Pinhão valley: lovely ripe mulberry fruit on the nose, floral yet also showing lovely concentration; dense and fleshy initially on the palate, damson fruit, full, ripe, round tannins, rising in the mouth, leading to a big finish: silky-velvety fruit backed by broad fine-grained tannins. A peacock’s tail on the finish. A bold wine with great finesse, already beautifully integrated. 11,500 cases produced (nearly double that of 2016).  18.5

Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vinha Velha 2017 ****/*****
From the oldest vines on the estate, five plots with some vines planted over a century ago: not quite as deep in colour as most of the wines here; still demure on the nose and not hanging together as yet, underlying brambly fruit, more delicate in style; lovely sweet cassis-like fruit on the palate backed by fine grained tannins, beautifully defined, not especially big but gloriously seductive with a long dusty-gravelly tannic finish. Very fine.  18.5 

Quinta do Vale Meão 2017 ****
From a historic family owned estate in the Douro Superior:  ripe and minty on the nose, good purity of fruit and lovely vivacious winey fruit on the palate, firm and minty with linear tannins, all there if not as big or powerful as some, beautifully made. 17

Quinta do Vallado, Adelaide 2017 ****
Medicinal cherry fruit aromas, rather lovely, kirsh/ginja; big rich-sweet and concentrated with lovely freshness, big bold tannic finish, dense, powerful very impressive, lovely definition. All there. 17    

Quinta do Vesúvio 2017 ****
A blend of the Tourigas with Sousão,  Alicante Bouschet and Tinta Amarela:  very different from the other Symington estate wines, lifted and aromatic on the nose with a touch of green leaf and ginger with a wild, herbal edge; lovely freshness on the palate, all the way through, not especially big with fine-grained peppery tannins, showing near perfect purity, leading to a long, linear finish. Should be approachable early but this will also last the course.  17.5

Capela do Vesúvio 2017 ****/***** 
A field blend from centenarian vines together with Touriga Franca, Alicante Bouschet, Sousão and Touriga Nacional: lovely lifted floral aromas, with wild berry and green tea on the nose; similarly exotic on the palate, showing great purity of fruit once again, liquorice concentration wrapped around bold spicy tannins. A massive finish leaving fresh acidity from the Sousão grape.  18.5 

Vieira da Sousa ***
With six quintas in the Cima Corgo including Quinta da Água Alta (formerly bottled by Churchill), this family owned firm has been doing rather well recently in the Decanter World Wine Awards: open, ripe and minty, a touch dusty on the nose; sweet and minty with firm tannins building in the mouth, good definition and great purity if not the biggest wine, linear tannins on the finish. 16 

Warre  2017 **** / *****
Based on Quinta da Cavadinha in the Pinhão valley as well as Quinta do Retiro in the Torto and Quinta da Telhada upstream in the Douro Superior, mostly a field blend of fruit from old vines backed by Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca: lovely, open floral aromas, so fresh and aromatic, typical of the Tourigas with a touch of green tea leaf, underlying  dark chocolate concentration; wonderfully pure, sweet plum and wild cherry fruit, backed by fine grained tannins, wonderfully fresh and lithe, with an expansive finish.  Not the biggest wine of the vintage but supremely well integrated and elegant.  Near perfect poise.  18.5 

 

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