Those us who love Vintage Port have never had it so good. The 2019 vintage is the fourth good harvest in a row, following hard on the heels of declarations in 2016, 2017 and 2018, all of which produced some classic declarations. Taylor’s made a classic declaration in all three years which is a first for them. (I am about to taste these three years side-by-side for The World of Fine Wine magzine).
The 2019 Vintage Ports are the result of an erratic growing season, with a little over 50% of the average winter rainfall and almost none during the summer months. However there was an absence of extreme heat: fortunately June temperatures with 4oC below average in the Douro Superior. Light rain at the end of August, again on the equinox and then in mid-October swelled the grapes and contributed to even maturation. Lower than average temperatures during vintage helped to preserve freshness and definition in the grapes and allowed later ripening varieties to reach their full potential. The late ripening Touriga Franca grape (often not picked until well into October) performed particularly well. Yields were close to average in contrast with the small, concentrated years in 2017 and 2018. The Symingtons picked grapes over six weeks – making this one of the longest harvests in recent years. The resulting wines are in Charles Symington’s words ‘lively and exuberant’ in contrast to the concentration from exceptionally small years in 2017 and 2018. For Christian Seely at Quinta do Noval, ‘the purity, complexity and character of the 2019s reflect these ideal conditions’. Noval also declared Quinta do Noval Nacional. Dirk Niepoort (who did not declare in 2018) is impressed by 2019 for ‘finesse, no exuberance and an overarching balance to the wine that will continue to develop for years to come.’ At the launch of his wine he compared the 2019 to 2000 (see previous post on this website).
The Symingtons (owners of Cockburn, Dow, Graham, Warre and Quinta do Vesúvio) have bottled six Single Quinta Vintage Ports from 2019 and have released two wines en primeur – Quinta do Vesúvio and Dow’s Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira. These will be accompanied by two limited edition cases from both estates, each containing the 2019, 2009 & 1999 Vintage Ports. See separate entry for these wines on my website.
The 2019 wines are generally well-priced (especially the single quintas) varying from around £150 / case of 6 for Quinta de la Rosa doubling to around £300 for Noval and £300 + for Niepoort. Both the Fladgate Partnership and Symington Family Estates are holding back stocks of 2019 for future release.
Warre, Quinta da Cavadinha 2019 ****
Mostly vinha velha (a field blend of old vines) grown at relatively high altitude and it shows. Lovely bright crimson colour with wonderfully open aromas of berry fruit and cassis, fragrant, floral with great purity; similarly expressive on the palate, firm, fine grained tannins, quite powerful yet at the same time very graceful and elegant. Already a delight to drink (in fact we finished off the bottle, lightly chilled, over a summer weekend). A mid-term wine. Could be drunk with pleasure now if you like young Port but better still in 7-10 years. Held back for future release. 2,300 x 9 litre cases produced. 17.5
Quinta do Vesúvio 2019 **** +
A blend of 35% Touriga Nacional, 33% Touriga Franca, 18% Alicante Bouschet, 8% Vinha Velha (field blend) and 6% Tinta Amarela: very deep inky black colour; closed and dense on the nose (especially in comparison with Cavadinha), underlying restrained plummy opulence and ripeness which opened up after a week or so on ullage; rich, suave and velvety initially on the palate with full, ripe tannins building steadily in the mouth leading to a big, ripe, supple finish. Complete. Drink 2034 onwards. 1,640 cases 12/75%cl. 18 +
Quinta dos Malvedos 2019 ****
A blend of 52 % Touriga Franca, 28% Touriga Nacional, 15% vinha velha (field blend) and 5% Sousão: similarly dark and opaque in appearance; dense and sullen on the nose with a touch of torrefaction (roast coffee and dark chocolate) underlying; rich, sweet and succulent with oppulent morello cherry fruit and firm, ripe tannins building towards a structured finish which shows minty ripeness and vibrance. Drink 2032 onwards. 8,000 cases 12/75cl held back for future release. 18
Dow Quinta do Bomfim 2019 ****
One third Touriga Franca: deep and opaque, demure and a bit angular initially on the nose, tight knit, with spirit still showing; gives the initial impression of being rich in style of Dow (always a sign of ripeness), lovely firm, structured tannins leading to a powerful foursquare finish where, at the moment, the muscular tannins still dominate the fruit. Should come together well: will be magnificent in 10 – 15 years. 3,500 cases 12/75cl held back for future release. 17.5
Cockburn, Quinta dos Canais 2019 ***
Touriga Nacional dominant: open and currently a bit disjointed on the nose, still raw initially, fragrant with a touch of green hedgerow character; fresh, vibrant and minty on the palate with just a touch of tar at the core. Lovely, firm linear tannins and a really fresh finish. Mid-weight. Drink from 2029. 10,000 cases 12/75cl held back for future release. 16
Dow Quinta Senhora da Ribeira 2019 ****/*****
A small estate with just 25 ha of vines, predominantly south-facing. 53% Touriga Franca, 26% Touriga Nacional and 21% Sousão (a high percentage): deep with the warmth of the Douro Superior evident on the nose: you can breathe in the schist and esteva; ripe and opulent, sweet and spicy with an exotic menthol and eucalyptus character and firm, ripe tannins building to a powerful, solid finish. Outstanding single quinta wine. For the long haul. Drink 2034 – 2060 plus. Just 980 cases of 12/75cl released. 18.5
Churchill, Quinta da Gricha ***
Deep, opaque; open, fragrant minty hedgerow aromas; well-defined berry fruit, still a little raw and needing time to knit together, backed by dusty-gravelly tannins and a vibrant finish. Mid-term wine, enjoyable now but better in 7 – 10 years. 16
Quinta de la Rosa 2019 ****
Deep, bright crimson hues; not very effusive on the nose with ripe, beefy undertones, needs time to open; similarly dense on the palate, backed by ripe, spicy-peppery tannins, full, fleshy with a touch of exotic ripeness. Long and complete. Excellent value. Drink 2028 – 2045 17
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