2011 Vintage Port

I am in the Douro right now, where the weather is fine and sunny and spirits are high. On Monday, the Institute of Masters of Wine organised a fantastic tasting in London of all the declared 2011 Vintage Ports, which confirmed that we have a great Vintage on our hands.

At Noval, we have declared the Quinta do Noval Vintage 2011, and also, for the first time since the 2003, the Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional, which is of course a thrilling event. At Romaneira, we have also declared Quinta da Romaneira Vintage 2011.

I was here a couple of weeks ago finalising the blends with António Agrellos, and we took some pictures in the tasting room. As they show, we were feeling rather cheerful about the wines. It is always a great moment when you know that you have an outstanding Port wine that you can declare as a Vintage Port, and at Noval it is a rare and exciting event to be able to declare the Nacional as well. There have been a few blog posts about the Nacional over the past few months, following the big tasting we did in New York, and I also wrote a while ago about the tasting of the Nacional 94 with the Wine Spectator, also in New York. So no need to go into detail today about what the Nacional is or what makes it special. But it is worth pointing out that the 2011 is the first time we have wanted to declare a Nacional since 2003, so it is an exciting event. A lot of people asked me at the time of the 2007 Vintage declaration why there was no Nacional 2007. The answer is that I resolved when I first started working at Noval (luckily for me the 94 was my first vintage) that we would never declare a Nacional that was not clearly outstanding. The wine that came from the Nacional parcel in 2007 was very good but not outstanding, and so we did not declare it. We had no such doubts about the 2011.

Here I am with António in the tasting room at Noval with Ausenda Matos, the oenologue of Noval.


And these next two pictures give an idea of how cheerful we were feeling about the wines we were tasting. I love the wines from 2011, and now having tasted the wines from our neighbours and friends in the Douro at the IMW tasting, I am sure that it will go down as a great historic Port Vintage.

Christian Seely and António Agrellos

Christian Seely and António Agrellos

I think we are tasting the Nacional in this picture. António and I have together been responsible for the 94, 96, 97, 2000, 2003 Nacionals. We were beginning rather to miss it, and it is wonderful to have again a great Nacional declaration in our hands.

The Quinta do Noval Vintage is quite lovely, I think one of the best ever, and I am sure that the Quinta da Romaneira Vintage 2011, of which we made only 700 cases is in fact the best Romaneira ever. My tasting notes are probably not impartial enough, but I give them here just for the record. Fortunately I am not a journalist or I would not last long, but I just give you in note form the impressions these wines made on me.

Quinta da Romaneira Vintage 2011

Intense bright fresh seductive fruit. Great elegance and harmony. Complex profound aromas. Something wild about it, typical of Romaneira.

Quinta do Noval Vintage 2011

Very seductive. Lovely fresh floral notes on the nose, many delicate complex aromas. Violets. Wonderful purity and fresh precision of fruit. Intense concentration, but delicate at the same time. Fine long tannins.

Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional 2011

Very strong distinctive personality. Tannins powerful reserved and fine. Very intense long and concentrated fruits, explosive in the mouth, balanced and with great freshness. Brooding presence.

But don’t take my word for it. Read what the journalists will say, or better still, buy some.

Finally, one photograph of António Agrellos, which I think gives an idea of the immense intelligence and artistic flair that he has brought to bear on the making and blending of the great wines of Noval over the past 20 years. I tend to travel round the world and do the talking, and maybe get some of the credit for these wines, but he is in fact the person who makes them, and I am very lucky to have the pleasure of working with António, both at Noval and at Romaneira, and to have been able to offer to the world as a result a few exceptional Vintage Ports over the past two decades, of which I think the 2011 may be one of the greatest.

António Agrellos

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Primeurs Tasting week for 2012 Bordeaux – Château Petit-Village (VIDEOS)

Christian Seely

« Precise purity of fruit, harmony, balance – a very attractive wine »

If you have trouble watching this video, view the web version here

Marielle Cazaux, Technical Director of Château Petit-Village

« Smooth and velvety, with chocolate notes, flowers, and very fresh fruit »

If you have trouble watching this video,view the web version here

Sarah Kemp, Decanter

« A delightful, very natural and attractive wine»

If you have trouble watching this video, view the web version here


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Primeurs Tasting week for 2012 Bordeaux – Château Pichon-Longueville Baron – part 2 (VIDEOS)

Jean-René Matignon – Technical Director of Château Pichon-Longueville

“2012 is a delicious wine, which is first characterized by a very precise fruit at the aromatic level, very ripe red and black fruits. Concerning the texture of the wine, the tannins are silky, very smooth, fine, balanced and above all there is a beautiful acidity that is present but not dominating.”

If you have trouble watching this video, view the web version here

Chris Kissack – www.thewinedoctor.com

“Château Pichon-Longueville is a very good wine. Lots of lovely dark but fresh aromas on the nose, nice texture in the mid-palate which is a strength in this vintage I think, and really good balance to it.”

If you have trouble watching this video, view the web version here

Château Pichon-Longueville Baron

Château Pichon-Longueville Baron

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Primeurs Tasting week for 2012 Bordeaux – Château Pichon-Longueville Baron

A lovely year, marked by seductive purity of fruit and above all freshness.

If you have trouble watching this video, view the web version here

Château Pichon-Longueville Baron

Château Pichon-Longueville Baron

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A Few Days in the Douro Valley

I was in the Douro recently for a magical five days. I don’t often get the opportunity to spend so long there, so it was a real pleasure to have several reasons for being there.

First we had the team of Domaine de l’Arlot, whom I had invited to spend a couple of days at Quinta do Noval for their annual outing.

For all of them it was a discovery of the Douro Valley, and for most a discovery of how wonderful great Port wine can be.

It is true that most people in France know only Port in its most basic guise as cheap Tawny sold in large supermarkets, and the first taste of a great Colheita or a mature Vintage Port can be something of a revelation.

We also had some fascinating tastings with them of our recent Douro red wines, and I much appreciated their Burgundian insights on what we are doing here with the great terroirs of Quinta do Noval and Quinta da Romaneira with red wines made from the noble Port varieties.

For Burgundians the notion of a sense of place is primordial, and they quickly seized the clear distinction in style between the red wines we make at Quinta do Noval and Quinta da Romaneira, confirmation if any were needed that terroir is every bit as important in the Douro Valley as it is in Burgundy.

Domaine de l'Arlot's team

Domaine de l'Arlot's team

I have to confess that our researches into the pleasures of old Tawny Ports went on rather late into the night on Friday, so felt that an early morning run was in order to clear the head on Saturday.

This is the view from the promontory of Roncão, which is a few kilometers from the Quinta do Noval, but where we grow vines that produce Vintage quality Ports.

Looking East from this wonderful spot you see the sun rising over the Douro River and over Quinta da Romaneira, which is more or less all the hillside that you see on the left hand side of the river.

It was an exhilarating moment, not the first time I have seen this life enhancing phenomenon: for many years I would see the vineyard of Quinta da Romaneira early in the morning in this way and dream about what might be achieved with this extraordinary vineyard. Now we are realizing that dream.

Lever du Soleil

Those of you who like Tawny Port and also like to run it off in the morning will understand that after a few kilometers up and down in the Douro I was beginning to feel a little thirsty. The prospect of a few more kilometers to get back to Quinta do Noval with no relief was a bit daunting.

Luckily as I came round the corner I saw this marvelous sight.

Almost exactly at the half way stage, a restoring orange tree, as if by design. It was a rather special moment. So I picked a couple and ate them, and then ran back to join the Burgundians for breakfast at Quinta do Noval.

I took this short video clip also.

If you have trouble watching this video, view the web version here

The next day I was visited by Joe Wadsack and Chris Orr at Quinta do Noval, and we had a great day visiting the Quinta on foot and a certain amount of enthusiastic tasting of Quinta do Noval’s range of Douro reds and a Port wine or two.

On Monday morning the Berry Brothers team came for a tasting and we watched Sr José João Lopes working the traditional terraces of vines below the terrace and cedar tree of the Quinta with Bonito the mule. In common with the Nacional parcel on the other side of the Quinta, this is a small part of the vineyard which we have not modernized or mechanized.

Almost all the other old terraced vineyards of Quinta do Noval have been replanted with noble Douro varieties in such a way as to keep the walled terraces but also to render them mechanisable, which greatly reduces the backbreaking work that manual maintenance of these vineyards requires.

But just here we decided to keep a little bit of the past, to show how it was, and as you see, we work it in a very traditional way. It is true that the photograph is like something out of a previous century, but nothing wrong with that: Quinta do Noval was making great wines in previous centuries with such methods.

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