Quinta do Noval: Recent Vintages 2011-2020


Earlier this summer, Christian Seely organised a worthwhile vertical tasting of recent vintages of Quinta do Noval and Naçional in London. Noval has been on fire lately and reasserted its position as one of the Douro’s finest Port Houses, setting its own agenda regarding Declarations. These dozen or so fortified wines were extremely consistent and occasionally dazzled. The most significant change has been their purity and approachability. When I began tasting Port in the late-Nineties, you would have to lay down recent releases for around two decades before they entertained the notion of drinkability. Nowadays, tannins are sculpted with a far finer chisel, and if infanticide is your thing, then I would not begrudge anyone from cracking open a bottle in its flush of youth. That said, readers are missing out on the glory of mature Port with 30 years or more under its belt, that heady smorgasbord of secondary aromas and flavours that provide a suitable end to any lunch or dinner.

Christian Seely guiding us through recent vintages from Noval.

One interesting question posed to Seely was whether the spirit, which used to consist of unaged brandy, that is added to stop the fermentation has underlined the difference in style. “I am not looking for the spirit to make a difference,” he replied, “but it should express the terroir. I don't want the spirit to add something. It has to be neutral.”

I will let the tasting notes do the talking. I must highlight the stupendous performances of the Quinta do Noval and Naçional in 2017. “It is one of the most surprising Naçionals,” Seely remarked. “The vintage was so dry with extreme heat, and yet the wines were absolutely marvellous.” I concur – this brilliant young Port will become a legend.

Let’s leave it short and sweet. Remember, Port is not just a festive tipple but can be enjoyed all year round.  

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