2016 Vintage Port Declaration
Brilliant Port vintages don’t come around very often. It is five years since the last universally declared vintage, but the wait has certainly been worth it. The 2016 Port vintage was declared by all the leading houses last week, a mark of high esteem, and it has the potential to be a real great.
Neal Martin comments, “The resulting Vintage Ports are fabulous. I remember tasting the 2011s and speculating whether any vintage would equal them. The answer is: “Yes...the 2016 vintage.”
The Growing Season
This is a year which highlights the stresses and strains of the climatic conditions in the Douro, but when all the key elements fit into place, greatness awaits. In brief, a very wet winter and spring was manna from heaven in advance of the extraordinarily hot and dry summer. These crucial water reserves protected the vines from hydric stress and just as growers were about to feel concern, rain fell on the 25th and 26th August. This gave a final push in the grapes’ development prior to record breaking temperatures in September and perfect conditions for a late harvest at the end of September and early October accompanied by lovely fresh cool nights.
The Fladgate Partnership’s head winemaker David Guimaraens noted, “The ripening season in 2017 started relatively late and lasted well into September. This lead to perfectly even ripening of bunches and berries and all the elements were in perfect balance at the time of harvesting”.
Tasting these wines last week, we were struck by their extraordinary precision and purity. These are fortified wines at their most sophisticated best. Wine maker Charles Symington described 2016 beautifully as “a year of refinement, purity and magnificently polished tannins”. Neal Martin describes them: “succulent and ebullient black fruit with veins of blueberry and cassis, those cashmere tannins and, crucially in 2016, the silver bead of acidity that lends them so much freshness and eliminates any heaviness in the mouth.”
This style of vintage is a port lover’s dream. It allows each individual port house to express the uniqueness of their vineyard locations and individual personality. From the Fladgate Partnership, Taylor’s has restrained power, contrasting with the rich generosity and opulence of Fonseca and the vibrant fruit in the Croft.
The Symington Family ports contain a wealth of riches. Amongst their three most famous houses Graham’s is most definitely the show stopper, exuding its characteristic rich succulence and power. The Dow’s is reserved with typically a touch less open sweetness, and Warre’s is extraordinarily graceful, perfumed and delicate.
With such a variety of styles, but uniformity of excellent quality, 2016 highlights the advantage of the growing fashion for 6 bottle cases. Instead of purchasing a block of one individual shipper’s wine, it is much more fun to buy a small selection of different ports to show the depth and range of this high class but very small vintage.
As Matthew Jukes comments, “Don’t wait… if you are keen to secure some stock because 2016 is a smaller vintage in volume terms than normal and I am certain that stock will be tight.” Neal Martin also urges a purchase, “There is no doubting the quality of these nascent 2016s. I am aware that the market can be resistant since the noble tradition of finishing dinner with a wee snifter of Vintage Port has faded in recent years. Then again, in terms of quality to price ratio it beats their equivalents Bordeaux or Burgundy hands down. Why not treat yourself to a case or two? Not only is Port more pleasurable in its youth, but these fortifieds possess in-built longevity and will give three or four decades of drinking pleasure.”
**Available for delivery in the UK from Spring 2019**
These wines are not available to buy online. To order email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7793 7900
£235.00 per 6 bottles IB
Croft 2016 is a very bright and lively wine, with hints of pomegranates and dark currants. This is a very striking and pure style of vintage port, bright and fresh, with complex herbal and fruit characters. A restrained style with lots of ageing potential.
Drink 2028-2055. 92-94 points. David Roberts MW, Goedhuis & Co
94 points: Neal Martin. 97 points: James Suckling. 17+ points: Matthew Jukes
£300.00 per 6 bottles IB (limited)
Brilliantly dense deep purple black colour. Striking woodland fruit aromas express a characteristic of sweetness, and flow through beautifully into the palate. Not a powerhouse, but the epitome of refinement. It has a natural central core and an appealingly integrated tannic structure. A very controlled wine, with a hint of aristocratic class. Superbly balanced, with a lovely dark berry fruit finish.
Drink 2030-2060. 94-96 points. David Roberts MW, Goedhuis & Co
97 points: Neal Martin. 100 points: James Suckling. 18.5+ points: Matthew Jukes
Smith Woodhouse 2016
£170.00 per 6 bottles IB
Hints of violets and fresh summer berries. This is a powerfully intense port, with a natural central core of tannic depth. A full and concentrated wine, which expresses real substance and depth. A wine for ageing.
Drink 2030 - 2050. 91-93 points. David Roberts MW, Goedhuis & Co
91 points: Neal Martin. 96 points: James Suckling. 17.5 points: Matthew Jukes
£225.00 per 6 bottles IB
A deep youthful ruby port colour. Full of fresh wild fruit berries, with hints of damson. A very aromatic style, with lovely pure red fruit flavours. The characteristic sweet luscious style is given a feeling of lift and brightness by the drive of schistous minerality on the end. This is a vintage port with real personality and a lovely firm grippy finish. Cockburn’s at its best.
Drink 2032 – 2055. 93-95 points. David Roberts MW, Goedhuis & Co
95 points: Neal Martin. 99 points: James Suckling. 18.5 points: Matthew Jukes
£255.00 per 6 bottles IB (Limited)
£265.00 per 12 half bottles IB (Limited)
A very scented wine, full of joyous bramble fruits. This is a true wine lover’s vintage port. Less on power, more on refinement and elegance. The tannins almost have a silky texture for a vintage port. Deliciously graceful and an absolute charmer.
Drink 2030 – 2054 94-96 points. David Roberts MW, Goedhuis & Co
94 points: Neal Martin. 96 points: James Suckling. 18.5+ points: Matthew Jukes
£314.00 per 6 bottles IB
A lovely aromatic wine, with perfumed notes of violets and fresh summer fruits. Charles Symington refers to it having the tension of a young thoroughbred, but these characteristics are balanced with a striking grace and subtlety. The tannins are very harmonious, bold and yet appealing. The finish though is one of tightly integrated fruit, with an intensity and dynamism that really excites.
Drink 2030 – 2058. 94-96 points. David Roberts MW, Goedhuis & Co
98 points: Neal Martin. 96 points: James Suckling. 19+ points: Matthew Jukes
£314.00 per 6 bottles IB (Limited)
An extraordinarily expressive wine, which stood out amongst an already outstanding selection. Brilliant shining deep opaque colour. Full of rich dark damsons and black cherries, with hints of liquorice. A wonderfully joyous and giving style, totally mouthcoating with hints of smoke, mocha and spice. I was struck by its balance of generosity and richness of fruit and the complexity of the central tannic core, giving this wine huge drive and energy. This exudes class and is for the long term.
Drink 2030 – 2060. 95-97 points. David Roberts MW, Goedhuis & Co
96 points: Neal Martin. 99 points: James Suckling. 20+ points: Matthew Jukes
Quinta do Noval 2016
£312.00 per 6 bottles IB (Limited)
The 2016 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port is a blend of Touriga Naçional, Touriga Franc, Tinta Cão and Sousão, all foot-trodden and aged in wooden casks for 18 months. It has a voluminous, warm and inviting bouquet that positively “bulges” with damson, bilberry, crushed violets and blackcurrants, all beautifully defined and focused. The palate is medium-bodied with a feisty, spicy opening: black fruit laced with cracked black pepper, clove, cardamom and a pinch of sea salt. Whilst the aromatics have all the “fun”, the palate is more “serious”, as if compensating for the nose with a sense of reserve and restraint. Together they make for a fascinating, quite mercurial Quinta do Noval that should age gloriously over the next 30 years. 94 points, Neal Martin
98 points: James Suckling. 18.5+ points: Matthew Jukes
The 2016 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port is a blend of Touriga Naçional, Touriga Franc, Tinta Cão and Sousão, all foot-trodden and aged in wooden casks for 18 months. It has a voluminous, warm and inviting bouquet that positively “bulges” with damson, bilberry, crushed violets and blackcurrants, all beautifully defined and focused. The palate is medium-bodied with a feisty, spicy opening: black fruit laced with cracked black pepper, clove, cardamom and a pinch of sea salt. Whilst the aromatics have all the “fun”, the palate is more “serious”, as if compensating for the nose with a sense of reserve and restraint. Together they make for a fascinating, quite mercurial Quinta do Noval that should age gloriously over the next 30 years.
This is a superb baby Noval that reminds me of the 1966. Chewy yet so polished. The light sweetness suggests an overall dialing back of the sugar content. Stemmy and lightly green. A truly classic Noval. Almost all from Pinhao. Buy. Better in 2025.
A superb Noval with delicacy and freshness on the nose and a beautiful and succulent palate, this is an ethereal creation with generous black fruit and a deep core of structure and power. It will appeal early in its life and then mellow incrementally over half a century!