Ringing in 2021 with Vintage Dated Ports

La Verre do Porto by John Singer Sargent

Ports are perfect for the Holidays, both for drinking by the fire and for giving to special friends. In this article, we report on some of our favorite vintage dated Ports. They include:  Vintage Ports, Single Quinta Vintage Ports, and Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Ports. Vintage Ports are great wines, but they are also firmly structured.  Young ones from the recent trifecta of consecutive stellar vintages (2016-17-18) need to be cellared for several years, so they’re best for giving to serious Port lovers who have the patience (and cellar) to age them.  Older Vintage Ports and vintage dated LBVs are best for consuming now. Fortunately, LBVs are very reasonably priced, too.

Vintage Ports: 2015-2018

Ramos Pinto’s Quinta do Bom Retiro

2018

Croft 2018 Quinta da Roêda Vintage Port 93-95  This is a single quinta Port requiring significant cellaring time to show its best, but the potential is there, and while the youthful palate is somewhat reticent the nose is vibrant and complex with elements of perfumed dark berries complemented by peppery spices.  While still evolving, the flavors mirror the bouquet with additional cracked black pepper and a light eucalyptus note. It’s densely packed with a firm backbone, fresh acidity and incredible harmony that suggest a very long life. Finishes long with good grip. Made from grapes trodden by foot in granite lagares with two years aging in vat before bottling. US Importer: Kobrand

Fonseca 2018 Guimaraens Vintage Port 94-96  Deep violet black.  The 2018 Guimaraens is seductively aromatic with scents of black plum, dark cherries, and Medjool dates that are picked up on the palate and complemented by notes of espresso, cloves and black tea. There’s admirable purity, a lush texture, a vigorous, long finish, and supple tannins that suggest earlier drinking than many Ports from this vintage.  US Importer:  Premium Port Wines

Ramos Pinto 2018 Quinta do Bom Retiro (cask sample) 95-97  This single quinta Porto opens with a perfume of black fruits and crushed lavender followed by a velvet smooth attack.  The palate takes time to open up but then shows a core of blackberry, black cherry jam and cassis complemented by hints of dark chocolate shavings and bay leaf all enlivened by juicy acidity. There’s excellent firm structure and a brambly grip on the finish.  A bit reticent in its youth, this wine should evolve nicely over time. The Quinta do Bom Retiro is located off the south bank of the Douro River in the winery’s Cima Corgo estate where its 64 ha vineyard includes 90+ year old field blends.  A blend of 53% Touriga Nacional, 29% Touriga Franca, 10% Sousão, and 9% old field blends foot trodden in lagares. Ana Rosas is the master Port blender at Ramos Pinto. The winery is now owned by the Champagne House Louis Roederer. RS 79 g/L, 19.4% alc.  US Importer: Maisons Marques et Domaines (MMD)

2017

Croft 2017 Vintage Port 93-95  Deeply colored, this Vintage Port is beautifully rich and balanced.  The bouquet gains in intensity with aeration, showing black fruit laced with lavender and orange citrus. The palate is refined and compelling with a sweet, fleshy entry, a lush, mouth filling texture, and a complex, persistent finish. It offers delicious drinking that will only get better with time. US Importer: Kobrand

Dow’s 2017 Vintage Port 96-98  A powerful, darkly colored Port, the Dow’s 2017 Vintage is packed with great black fruits and a firmly tannic structure. The nose is initially reticent, but with time shows a fine perfume of dark fruits, chocolate and lavender. Big on the palate and boldly flavored but needs at least a decade of cellaring. US Importer: Premium Port Wines

Fonseca 2017 Vintage Port ($120) 95-97  Very dark, opaque purple. The initially reticent nose shows dark berries, violet, and a hint of balsamic. Very flavorful with jammy black raspberry fruit enhanced by notes of bergamon, balsamic and bitter chocolate. This is a particularly vibrant, velvety Port from the 2017 vintage with racy acidity and generous, powdery tannins and an outstanding, extracted, spiced finish. Should easily age 15-25 years.  Fruit from Fonseca’s three quintas is trod by foot in granite lagares; aged in oak for two years. RS 98 g/L.   US Importer: Kobrand

Graham’s 2017 Vintage Port 94-96  Powerfully aromatic showing perfumed dark berries and plum with touches of balsamic and bay leaf, the palate is equally appealing, layered and complex and very well focused and balanced. There’s excellent concentration, a firm but not overly firm structure, and a lushness that persists on a long and spicy aftertaste. The blend includes 35% Touriga Nacional and 47% Touriga Franca; RS 113 g/L.  US Importer:  Premium Port Wines

Romariz 2017 Vintage Port  93-95  The 2017 Romariz is a big, bold Port. It opens with a bouquet of black currant and dark plum and berries complemented by bay leaf and other savory herbs. The palate adds licorice and dried fruit to this mix. It’s wonderfully pure, ripe and generous with a silky viscosity. Dense tannins will need time to resolve, but for those with a cellar, patience will be highly rewarded. US Importer: Kysela

Quinta do Vesuvio 2017 Vintage Port 94-96  The 2017 Quinta do Vesuvio reveals an intricately perfumed bouquet that evokes dark berries and cherries complemented by dark chocolate, dates and a eucalyptus note. It’s velvety smooth showing rich black fruit on an elegant palate with outstanding balance and an opulent finish. Truly delicious. The vineyards of this top estate are predominantly north facing. US Importer: Premium Port Wines

Ramos Pinto 2017 Vintage Port 94-96  The 2017 Ramos Pinot opens with an expressive bouquet of black raspberry, dark cherry, violets, and a bitter chocolate note.  Beautifully refined on the medium weight palate with layered fruit and spice flavors and wonderful harmony and balance. Powerful and long on the finish, but dense tannins and a dry finish suggest cellaring is in order. US Importer: MMD

2015-16

Quinta de Roriz

Cockburn’s 2016 Vintage Port  93-95  Dark bluish-black. The 2016 Cockburn’s is backward on the nose, but black and red berry fruit show with aeration. The palate also takes time to open but when it does there’s lovely dark fruit and spice and very appealing balance and purity.  The finish is long, flavorful and fresh. This Port house was created two hundred years ago by Scotsman Robert Cockburn. Symington purchased the estate in 2006. A blend of Touriga Nacional (62%), Touriga Franca (21%) plus Sousão and Alicante Bouschet. RS 106 g/L  US Importer: Premium Port Wines

Quinta de Roriz 2016 Vintage Port 93-95  The 2016 Quinta de Roriz begins with a vibrant perfume of dark berries and cherries joined by suggestions of lavender, eucalyptus and bitter chocolate.  It’s especially youthful and fresh tasting with a slippery, suave mouth feel and fine, firm round tannins.  Predominantly Touriga Nacional from the 30 year old vines of Vinha do Canavial cofermented with about 20% Sousão. RS 114 g/L.   US Importer: Premium Port Wines

Dow’s 2015 Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira Vintage Port 92-94   This single quinta vintage Port reveals aromas of dark berries, purple plum, and dried fruit. It’s expressive and deeply flavored with savory undertones and a hint of dark chocolate. It exhibits a rich breadth of texture and is underpinned by a firm structure. The 25 ha Senhora da Ribeira vineyard sits across the river from the Quinta do Vesuvio in the Douro Superior. US Importer: Premium Port Wines

Quinta do Noval 2015 Vintage Porto ($110) 95-97  Opening with a seductive bouquet of black fruits laced with lavender and a hint of cloves, this is an outstanding offering from the very good 2015 vintage. The palate is rich and sweet on entry showing great black fruits complemented by peppery spice. Firm but supple tannins suggest a long life ahead.  A blend of foot-trodden Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franc, Tinta Cão and Sousão aged in wooden casks for 18 months.  US Importer: Vintus

Older Vintages

Quinta do Malvedos

Graham’s 2005 Malvedos Single Quinta Vintage Port  92  This single quinta Vintage Port reveals an opulent nose of blackberry, balsamic, and chocolate with a hint of cloves.  It’s thickly textured, almost unctuous, with concentrated black fruit, espresso, and cracked pepper on the palate. Still big and bold, and ready to drink now. The 91 ha Quinta dos Malvedos vineyard is located where the Cima Corgo makes the transition to the Douro Superior. US Importer: Premium Port Wines

Romariz 2003 Vintage Porto  92  Showing an intriguing, herbal and dark fruited nose, the 2003 Romariz is a wonderfully rich and mouthfilling Port.  Generously flavored with black fruits and figs accompanied by tobacco and chocolate.  Finishes very long with lingering blackberry notes.  This is a good example of a Port that was showed powerful tannins when young but today is beautifully integrated and highly drinkable. All fruit comes from the Cima Corgo.  Romariz is now part of the Fladgate Partnership, and the wines are made and stored at Taylors. The winemaker is David Guimaraens. US Importer: Kysela

Late Bottled Vintage [LBV] Ports

LBV Ports carry vintage dates, of course, but their LBV label indicates their quality is not up to the standards of a true Vintage Port. We review some excellent, very reasonably priced ones below.

Quinta de la Rosa

Cockburn’s 2015 Late Bottled Vintage Port 91  Deep ruby red in color, the Cockburn’s LBV from the 2015 vintage reveals aromas and flavors of plum and red and black berries with hints of tobacco and chocolate.  It’s fresh, mouthfilling and smoothly textured and ready to drink now. Predominantly Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Sousao sourced from Cockburn’s Quinta dos Canais and Quinta do Vale Coelho vineyards in the Douro Superior. US Importer: Premium Port Wines

Dow’s 2015 Late Bottled Vintage Port ($23) 90  The 2015 Dow’s LBV offers excellent value in a flavorful Port that is ready to drink now. The open nose reveals ripe blackberry and fig with hints of licorice and cola. The palate follows suit with the addition of light chocolate and vanilla notes. The tannins are supple.  The grapes come from Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim and Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira vineyards. US Importer: Premium Port Wines

Graham’s 2015 Late Bottled Vintage Port ($22) 90  Black and red berries show on the nose with a leafy thyme note. This is a nicely sculpted, medium weight LBV that’s drinkable now.  It has good balance, pliable tannins, and finishes dry.  It doesn’t have the weight and complexity of the 2005 and 2017 Vintage Ports tasted, but it offers good flavor and value. Principally Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca with smaller amounts of Sousão, Tinta Amarela, and Tinta Barroca mostly from Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos and Quinta do Tua vineyards.  US Importer: Premium Port Wines

Quinta de la Rosa 2015 Late Bottled Vintage Port ($29) 92  This is an impressive 2015 LBV revealing a perfumed bouquet of dark red fruit with nuances of lavender and cedar. The palate is round and generous and youthful in character with a wonderful, silky mouth feel and good viscosity and focus. Excellent value! A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz Foot trodden in open lagares and aged 4-6 years in tonels prior to bottling (unfiltered).  US Importer: Winesellers Ltd.

Ramos Pinto 2014 RP.LBV Late Bottled Vintage Port ($30) 93  This is our favorite of the LBVs tasted this year.  The 2014 Ramos Pinto has a recalcitrant nose of minerals and black fruit but more than makes up for it on the palate.  It’s sweet on entry with lush dark fruit complicated by espresso, black currant, and bitter chocolate.  It shows great balance, supple tannins, and a long, voluminous finish.  It clearly has years ahead of it but is drinking nicely now. Exceptional value! A hand harvested, foot trodden blend of 45% Touriga Nacional, 30% Sousão, and 10% Touriga Franca from the quintas of Ervamoira and Bom Retiro aged 4-6 years in cask. Unfiltered. RS 95 g/L. US Importer: MMD

Smith Woodhouse 2008 LBV ($35) 91  From a challenging vintage with a wet spring, cool summer, and warm, late harvest the Smith Woodhouse 2008 LBV exceeds expectations.  It offers red and black fruits complemented by an appealing note of chocolate covered cherries.  Enticing juicy acidity imparts a sense of freshness on a precise finish that lingers in the mouth.  Mostly Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca sourced from the Quinta da Madalena; matured in wood for 4 years and bottled unfiltered in 2012 followed by 6 years of bottle age prior to release. Drinking beautifully now. US Importer: Premium Port Wines

 

 

 

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