Since the release of the 2011s, Vintage Port has entered a new era. Global demand has increased, this change driven by new markets such as Brazil, its close cultural connection with Portugal providing an obvious draw; taken together with increased demand from Asia, who want to secure the very finest Ports, that have long been stronghold Old Europe and the US. Resultantly, since 2011, the declared Port vintages have been sell-out affairs. We predict that for the next decade, Vintage Port declarations will experience greater and greater demand. Moreover, with winemaking techniques reaching new acmes, we also envisage an increase in declarations, though of reduced volumes. As such, collectors should stock up.
Neal Martin has now released his Vinous report, which reflects the exceptional sentiments of James Suckling ‘Quite rightly, those that splashed out on 2016 will want to know why they should open their wallets again. Well, the answer is clear when you taste them: whereas the leitmotifs of 2016 are elegance and finesse, 2017 is more about structure and intensity. The 2017s are more hedonistic than their 2016 counterparts and yet the startling aspect of these Ports is their freshness.’ The 2017 vintage is a powerful one, with incredible concentration, more tannin and torque. We can understand therefore why it is reminiscent of the brilliant 1945 vintage. Today we are delighted to be able to offer our selection of the exceptional Taylor Fladgate stable from the exciting declared 2017 Port vintage.
Taylor’s Fladgate are one of two uber Port houses that dominate the Douro landscape. Founded in 1692, the house brands boast Taylors, Fonseca, Krohn and Croft. The company has remained family owned throughout its 300 years history and is key to the rich tapestry of great Port. Today, the family remain at the forefront of innovation, nearing completion of their new colossal museum, which along with the magnificent Yeatman hotel, will nestle in the hill overlooking Vila Nova de Gaia. It is unsurprising therefore that Taylor’s itself is recognised as the benchmark for great vintage Port. It is famed for incredible complexity, combining elegance with extraordinary longevity, the definition of long lived. Taylor’s Port is taken from three exceptional, legendary quintas; Vargellas, Terra Feita and Junco. Each has their own geographic uniqueness, the blend defined by their dimensions. Taylor’s therefore is one of the three most famous and sought-after brands of Port, most popular among the old markets, the first port of call for new. Indeed, the 2017 is one of the highest scoring in their history, awarded 98 points from Neal Martin and 99 points from James Suckling. Only 11,500 cases were made in 2017 and today’s price of £325 per case of six, makes a must buy for any lover of truly great wine.
The second world class Quinta we are releasing today is Croft which was acquired in 2001 by the powerhouse Taylor-Fladgate Fonseca. However, it is the oldest Port wine producer, with records dating back to 1588. History buffs will know this is the year of the Spanish Armada and it was the year of the first recorded shipment of Port wine, registered to Bristol. It was formally founded in 1670 and by the time of the French Revolution, John Croft published a treatise on Port wine, making it the vanguard of Port during an era where the British could not import French wine. When one thinks of Croft Port and in particular vintage Port, one is pulled to the Estate’s terminus, the great Quinta da Roeda, universally recognised as one of the great Port vineyards, which they purchased at the beginning of the 18th Century. This vineyard in many ways defines the brilliant Vintage Port style, which is one of plump, rich, beautiful fruit purity, packed with baked black fruit and lovely spice, this explains why it requires years to hit its straps. The 2017 has been awarded 97 points from James Suckling and 94 from Neal Martin. It is priced today at £240 per case of six, offering remarkable value for a wine which can improve in bottle for 50 years or more. Production is also very small with only 3,900 cases made in 2017.
Foneseca Guimaraens, known more simply as Fonseca, was founded in 1822 by Manoel Pedro Guimaraens, who purchased the Estate but retained the original Fonseca name. He was then forced to leave Portugal in an empty port cask, due to civil war. During this period Foneseca grew quickly in importance, its reputation led it to be the second largest Port shipper. In 1948, Taylor, Fladgate and Yeatman purchased the house, yet allowing it to remain its own separate entity.
Today it is one of the largest and most important Port houses, run by David Guimaraens, the great-great-great grandson of Manoel Pedro. He has been the head winemaker since 1994 and also oversees winemaking and blending of all four Taylor Fladgate Houses; Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca Guimaraens, Croft and Delaforce. Fonseca own three main Quinta vineyards, the most famous is Quinta do Panascal, which they purchased in 1978. Fonseca is known for its brilliant quality and is among the front runners in terms of critic scores in all the declared Port vintages. The wine is known for its incredible concentration, brilliant notes of kirsch, cassis, jam, liquorice and Christmas cake. In 2017 it has been awarded 95 points from Neal Martin and 95 from James Suckling. It is often a favourite among those in the know, as it is a Port of incredible nuance and style. It is offered today on release for £320 per case of six.
Port is beginning the advent of a new era, a thrilling and exciting new chapter, opening to a global market that want to own and visit this glorious region. Prices will no doubt increase in line with quality and demand. The 2017 vintage is already being remarked at the modern 1945, securing some is strongly advised. Visiting this region is also highly recommended, I returned yesterday form a glorious weekend tasting and trawling through the Duoro, you can find out more about the region, its detailed here https://www.winerist.com/region/douro-valley.
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