I wrote up my first impressions of the 2018 Port Vintage in June when the first samples were sent out during lockdown. Due partly to the Covid pandemic and to the fact that this is not a universal declaration there has not been much momentum behind the 2018s. Of course we have not been able to gather together to taste the wines and exchange opinions in the usual way. Whether this will affect the price of these wines over the longer term is a moot point, particularly with an unparalleled run of four good years from 2015 onwards. Taylor’s have taken the unprecedented step of declaring three years in a row. Adrian Bridge, Managing Director of the Fladgate Partnership said: “We have debated the decision to release the third in a row, because this is the first time we’ve done this in Taylor’s history – which spans over 3 centuries – but we felt that we had to let the wine speak’. With regard to the timing he emphasised that “we have to follow the wine, not the economy….. we want to make these wines when they come along and we don’t know when the next one is coming along.” The wine certainly speaks for itself as you will see form my note below.
Samples of the 2018s have been coming in in dribs and drabs. There seems to be no urgency to sell the wines with Taylor’s not releasing their 2018 for sale until 'early 2021'. It is perhaps because of this that I have only seen one offer so far; from the Wine Society who offered a trio of wines including the magnificent 2018 Quinta do Noval and Quinta do Vesúvio that I wrote up earlier in the year. Both of these were priced at around £275 for six bottles in bond.
There are without doubt a number of magnificent wines in 2018 including Taylor and a lovely wine Single Quinta wine from Churchill (below). More 2018 samples are due and I will be writing these up as they come in.
Taylor 2018 *****
A ‘classic’ declaration from Taylor’s: a blend from Quinta de Vargellas in the Douro Superior (‘the backbone’) and Quintas Terra Feita and Junco in the Pinhão Valley. Deep, scented (violets and esteva or gum cistus), minty too, restrained but already quite expressive; lovely pure mint and berry fruit backed by fine grained tannins which rise in the mouth to a long, level, linear finish. Not especially big but beautifully poised and very elegant. This has all the qualities of a long term keeper. It is already magnificent and will be even more so in 15 to 20 years. 7,800 cases produced. 19.5
Fonseca Guimaraens 2018 ****/*****
The second label for Fonseca, a blend from Quinta do Panascal in the Távora Valley and Fonseca’s estates in the Pinhão Valley. Lovely, ripe expressive dark chocolate concentration on the nose, this really sings from the glass; dense and voluptuous on the palate, super-ripe and plummy with luscious texture backed by firm, gravelly tannins that extend to a broad, gripping finish. Glorious. This will be a keeper. 4,700 cases. 18.5
Croft, Quinta da Roeda 2018 ****
From Croft’s flagship estate just upstream from Pinhão: fragrant, slightly herbal -hedgerow character with a hint of chocolate on the nose; lovely round, well- defined plum and cherry fruit flavours, fresh, firm and accessible, very nicely balanced, backed by firm tannins and a long lithe finish. Mid-weight, middle distance wine fro drinking in ten years or so. 2000 cases. 17
Churchill, Quinta da Gricha 2018 ****
From predominantly north facing vines with an average of around 80 years: lovely aromas redolent of ripe plums, dark milk chocolate and a touch of kirsch; very pure, ripe, berry fruit with firm, stoney tannins that rise in the mouth, leading to a long, firm linear finish. Shows wonderful verve and definition. A triumph from Churchill (whose wines I have sometimes been critical of in the past). Just 454 cases produced (8% of the estate’s total production in 2018). 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