In line with Quinta do Noval’s strategy to declare a ‘classic’ Vintage Port from every harvest, but vary the quantities produced, the revered estate has released a vintage expression from 2018.
The vintage-release was announced today and marks the property’s eighth classic vintage Port bottling in a row – in contrast to an average of three declarations per decade for most Port brands – although Noval made just 1,600 cases in total, representing a mere 7% of the total production at the quinta.
With extremes to the weather patterns in 2018, from heavy rain in the early part of the year – making difficulties during the flowering period – to an amazing long dry summer, eventual ripening was excellent, particularly for two key grapes, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Francesa.
These two varieties have dominated Noval’s 2018 Vintage Port blend – which Christian Seely, managing director of Quinta do Noval, considers “magnificently ripe, profound and expressive’”
As always, all the grapes in Noval’s classic vintages come solely from the 148 hectare estate, where a very strict selection of the best lots results in a small quantity of top quality Vintage being declared year after year, ever since a major replanting programme matured more than 10 years ago.
Noval’s classic vintage declaration for 2018 follows that of Taylor’s, which was announced on Thursday, while Symington Family Estates has released a series of single quinta vintage Port expressions.
Seely’s views on the 2018 harvest and Quinta do Noval’s approach to classic vintage Port declarations are reproduced in full below.
Seely said about the 2018 harvest:
“Like 2017, 2018 was a year of low yields, but for different reasons. 2017 was a year of extreme drought, while 2018 was marked in the first part of the year by heavy rainfall. This meant that potential yields were naturally much reduced by the difficulties of the flowering period. Subsequently however, a long hot dry summer ensued. Water levels in the soil had been replenished, and the result of this excellent ripening period on a low yield is evident in the 2018 Vintage Port, which is magnificently ripe, profound and expressive.
“As always, the Quinta do Noval Vintage Port is made exclusively from grapes from our Quinta in the heart of the Douro Valley, and the quantity bottled (1600 cases) of the 2018 Vintage Port represents just 7% of the Quinta’s production, as usual a very strict selection of the very best lots to make the Quinta do Noval blend.
“Both Touriga Nacional and Touriga Francesa flourished in 2018, in particular the Francesa which benefited from the ideal ripening conditions, and this Vintage Port blend is dominated by these two varietals. The wine is wonderfully ripe, full and exuberant, spicy on the nose, with very fine long tannins and a classic Noval purity and elegance.”
Meanwhile, commenting on Noval’s approach to vintage Port mentioned above, Seely said:
“Noval follows its own path in its approach to Vintage Port. If we believe that we have wines of the quality and personality to join the ranks of the Quinta do Noval Vintage Ports of previous years, we will bottle it and declare it, even if this means declaring several years in a row, and even if it means, as is often the case, bottling only a few hundred cases of Quinta do Noval Vintage Port, representing a tiny percentage of the total production of the Quinta.
“Of course, in very great years, when there is unanimity among Port producers, and a General Declaration results, Quinta do Noval will declare its wine also, and perhaps with a little more wine than usual. But whatever the year, the standards of selection in the Noval tasting room are extremely rigorous, and even in the more generous years volumes of our Vintage Ports are always extremely small: at the very most, up to 15% of the production of our great vineyard terroir.”
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