2016 Vintage Port- Initial Impressions on taste and quality

Posted 21 May 2018

by Vintage Wine and Port

2016 fonseca vintage port

 

Richard Mayson, the renowned wine writer of the classic "Port and the Douro" and an eminent authority on Vintage Port has recently released his first impressions of the 2016 vintage ports.  Richard tasted the 2016 ports on two occasions,  firstly at The Big Fortified Tasting on 9th May 2018 and  secondly on the joint presentation that The Fladgate Partnership , Quinta Do noval and The Symington Family Estates gave on the 17th May 2018 in London.  He reluctantly graded these, as he prefers to try the samples 3 or 4 times, but this year  given the general declaration and the special tasting occasions offered by the port trade, he made the  introductory tasting notes available on his page shortly after, being one of the first wine critics to do so.

Vintage Wine and port will be releasing our 2016 Port En Primeur offer in a couple of days, so  please read Mr. Mayson's insights below as a guide to purchasing the 2016 ports. The ports that are not scored will be tasted again and will be given a score later on.

 

Burmester 2016

Tasted alongside Barros, a very cold sample, attractive aromas and fresh sappy-spicy fruit  backed by peppery tannins, quite soft in style but nicely defined.

 

Kopke 2016

Open, fragrant but a bit stalky and green on the nose, fresh fruit, gritty tannins but my impression is that this wine is linear and rather one dimensional. 

 

Offley 2016

Tasted at the BFT, now that Offley no longer has Quinta da Boa Vista, this is a blend from the Pinhão region with wines from Quinta do Sairrão in the Torto Valley: fresh, mid-weight and fruit-driven backed by gritty, peppery tannins and leading to spicy finish.  Not as serious as the Sandeman (see below) which is the flagship vintage Port from Sogrape.

 

Sandeman 2016

Tasted at the busy BFT: dense, closed and tight knit on the nose, ripe sweet and minty on the palate with fine grained gravelly tannins rising in the mouth leading to a firm, linear finished. Not as big or extractive to my mind as recent Sandeman vintages and the 2016 is already showing balance and finesse.

 

Quinta Do Noval 2016

Dense but opening up on the nose to reveal dark chocolate intensity with a delicate leafy edge; ripe and minty initially on the palate, lovely purity of fruit and great definition, sweet cassis backed by broad, ripe, grippy tannins, not as big as some wines form this vintage but showing great balance and poise from start to finish. 6,000 cases in total. 18/20

 

Quinta do Noval National

Tiny yields from these legendary ungrafted vines in 2016 with a total production of just 170 cases from this 4.5 acre plot. The average age of the vines is around 50 years old and grapes from these mixed plantings were supplemented by 20% Tinto Cão (approx. 60 years old) from the same Nacional plot: closed and dense initially but showing liquorice-like super ripeness as the wine opened  up; dark chocolate intensity on the palate with layer upon layer of ripe, fleshy fruit and broad tannins all the way through to a gripping tannic finish. This is a wonderful wine, as rare as hen’s teeth and a privilege to taste at this stage. 19.5/20

 

Cockburn's 2016

A Douro Superior blend based mostly on the south-facing Quinta dos Canais (Touriga  Nacional and Touriga Franca) with support from Quinta do Vale Coelho upstream  (Sousão) and Cachão do Arnozelo (Alicante Bouschet): relatively closed on the nose but with ripeness and dusty tannins underlying; intense dark fruit, cassis backed by powerful tannins. Big and broad. All there and all together: Cockburn truly back on form. 2,450 cases produced.  18 +?/20


Croft 206

Based on Quinta da Roeda at Pinhão: open, rich plummy aromas with minty ripeness evident, a touch of hedgerow too; very much in the recent Croft mold, which they describe as ‘rubenesque’, i.e. soft, plump and fleshy with voluptuous fruit backed by ripe tannins that blossom on the finish. 17/20

 

Dow's 2016

Based on Touriga Franca, followed by Touriga Nacional and Sousão from Quinta do Bomfim at Pinhão and Quinta Senhora da Ribeira in the Douro Superior:  fine and focused on the nose, leaner and more restrained in style than either Graham or Quinta do Vesuvio (below) with underlying dusty tannins; rapier like tannins on the palate, ram rod, all the way through with the opulence and flesh of the fruit coming through on the finish. Great purity and expression, the drier style of Dow works well in ripe years like 2016. Outstanding wine for the long term. 5480 cases in total. 19/20

 

Graham's 2016

A blend from four quintas: Malvedos (41%), nearby Tua (25%) as well as Vila Velha and Vale de Malhadas in the Douro Superior, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Sousão and old, mixed vines:  very deep, inky colour; super-ripe, floral but still quite raw on the nose, needing time to knit together; rich plummy opulence backed by dark chocolate intensity and spicy tannic grip, big and bold on the finish. Voluptuous. Fabulous richness.  This is one for the long haul and is already very, very impressive. 6,325 cases. 19/20

 

Graham, The Stone Terraces 2016

Mostly Touriga Nacional from traditional stone-walled terraces at Quinta dos Malvedos, Graham’s flagship estate. The vineyards mostly face north and east: inky blue-black colour; closed, intense with a hint of liquorice and dark chocolate, big and dense with bitter-sweet dark chocolate intensity and broad tannins rising in the mouth to a massive peacock’s tail of a finish. A ‘wow’ of a wine.  19.5/20

 

Quinta do Vesuvio 2016

A blend of Touriga Nacional (43%), Touriga Franca (25%), a relatively high proportion of Alicante Bouschet (17%) alongside Tinta Amarela and Tinto Cão: lovely warm country aromas, ripe, open and very full in style, super-ripe cassis broad and fleshy, backed by weighty tannins, leading to a powerful, explosive finish. Very impressive.  1,220 cases in total. 18/20

 

Capella do Vesuvio 2016

Only the third Capela vintage to be released, from low yielding 90 year old vines  as well as co-fermented Touriga Nacional/Alicante Bouschet and Touriga Franca /Sousão from neighbouring plots: rather more sullen and brooding on the nose than the Vesuvio and deliberately slightly drier in style though with similar underlying ripeness and rich, fleshy cherry and plum fruit backed by powerful, ripe, broad  tannins. A tiny quantity produced: 3,000 numbered bottles. 18.5/20

 

Quinta do Noval 2016

Dense but opening up on the nose to reveal dark chocolate intensity with a delicate leafy edge; ripe and minty initially on the palate, lovely purity of fruit and great definition, sweet cassis backed by broad, ripe, grippy tannins, not as big as some wines form this vintage but showing great balance and poise from start to finish. 6,000 cases in total. 18/20

 

Quinta do Noval  Nacional 2016

Tiny yields from these legendary ungrafted vines in 2016 with a total production of just 170 cases from this 4.5 acre plot. The average age of the vines is around 50 years old and grapes from these mixed plantings were supplemented by 20% Tinto Cão (approx. 60 years old) from the same Nacional plot: closed and dense initially but showing liquorice-like super ripeness as the wine opened  up; dark chocolate intensity on the palate with layer upon layer of ripe, fleshy fruit and broad tannins all the way through to a gripping tannic finish. This is a wonderful wine, as rare as hen’s teeth and a privilege to taste at this stage. 19.5/20

 

Warre's 2016

Nearly 50% from old mixed vines from Quinta da Cavadinha in the Pinhão Valley and Quinta do Retiro in the Torto supplemented by Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca from Quinta da Telhada in the Douro Superior: open, pure, floral aromas (violets), totally charming at this stage, with lovely supple, seamless fruit, fresh and lithe with fine grained  tannins building in the mouth. Beautiful wine  with real poise and length.   4,250 cases produced.  18.5/20

 

Smith Woodhouse 2016

Entirely from Quinta da Madelena in the Torto Valley, primarily a field blend of old vines, picked late from 28th September onwards: open, fragrant, ripe cherry and floral fruit aromas; lovely firm, well defined berry fruit on the palate, some bitter chocolate intensity mid-palate, fine grained, peppery tannins leading to a long sinewy finish. Very good middle-weight, middle-distance wine, leaner in style than other wines from the Symington Estates.  Just 1,500 cases in total.  16.5/20

 

Fonseca 2016

The cornerstone of this wine is Quinta de Panascal in the lower reaches of the Tavora Valley alongside quintas Cruzeiro and Santo António in the Pinhão Valley: closed and rather withdrawn on the nose with an underlying dusting of tannin evident; firm, sweet cassis and berry fruit, dark chocolate intensity at the core, backed by broad yet tight-knit peppery tannins which grip on the finish.  All there and very fine. 18 +/20

 

Taylor's 2016

A blend from two of Taylor’s most famous estates: Quinta de Vargellas in the Douro Superior and Quinta de Terra Feita in the Pinhão Valley.  Dense and heady on the nose with an attractive green, leafy edge; sweet and plump initially with lovely bright damson fruit, nicely defined but not as big as some of the wines in this line up, Fonseca included. Firm, tight knit tannins on the finish which shows lovely purity of fruit. Still a bit sullen on re-tasting, needs time to pull together. 6,500 cases. 17.5+/20

 

2016 taylor's vintage port