2018 Vintage Port Declaration
Posted 18 May 2020
by Dia Grigoriou and Tony Carter
Shippers in the Douro announced that 2018 was another fabulous year for port wines. A few port shippers declared a classic vintage whilst others opted to declare their best single vineyard ports instead.
The declaration occurred in line with the tradition of declaring a vintage port on or after St. Gorges Day, 23rd April each year.
The 2018s are showing things are heating up in the Douro. Proof is that some shippers offered a rare third consecutive year declaration for Vintage Port, following the exceptional 2016 & 2017 vintages.
The 2018 Vintage
The 2018 Vintage is aptly described by wine makers as a "rollercoaster of a vintage". A drought throughout winter gave way to exceptionally high rainfall and hale in spring. This was followed by sporadic heatwaves throughout summer. Fortunately the spring rains had replenished the water table and the grapes were healthy when it came to selection. In an unusual year such as 2018, the winemakers skills and experience are critical in producing a good wine. Those winemakers who carefully selected grapes prospered. As a result, there is no defining characteristic of the vintage as a whole, such as would be found in a long hot summer. Instead there are some very interesting ports that are more representative of the terroir.
After a run of declared vintages 2016/17 it was highly unlikely that 2018 would be universally declared. Sandeman who did not declare their outstanding 2017 were the fist to declare a classic vintage. This was followed by Sogevinous (Calem, Kopke, Burmester, Barros), Quevedo and regular declarations from Vesuvio and Noval. Surprisingly Taylor's declared their 2018 (following 16/17) but will not sell it until 2021. QUANTITIES ARE TINY. Whether it's due to careful selection, Corona virus or just a desire not to overload the market, producers have only produced a fraction of normal volumes (roughly 1/3 of normal production).
2018 Classic port vintage declarations
A classic vintage port is a blend of various vineyards and is only produced in great vintages. These ports are the crème de la crème of the Douro and their longevity in some cases spans more than 100 years.
The 2018 Taylor's classic vintage with the Single Quinta Fonseca Guimaraens & Croft Roeda ports
- Taylor’s Classic Vintage, 2018: Taylor Fladgate (owners of Taylor, Fonseca, Croft) decided to make a rare three year in a row declaration of the Taylor’s vintage port. Managing director Adrian Bridge comments: ‘Although a Classic declaration normally only happens about three times a decade, the exceptional run of years has meant that Taylor’s is able to make a third in a row.’ Taylor Fladgate chief Wine-maker David Guimaraens explains about the vintage: ‘The Douro Superior enjoyed the combination of abundant ground water and hot summer weather which often produces great vintage Port. It has given us the excellent phenolic maturity typical of a hot ripening season but the fine multi-layered fruit, fresh acidity we normally see in cooler years.’
- · Quinta Do Noval Classic Vintage, 2018: Noval has had a run of vintage port declarations in recent years and 2018 is no exception. Only 1600 cases have been produced from the 2018 harvest and quantities are tiny. Managing director Christian Seely offers his insight into the vintage: ‘Like 2017, 2018 was a year of low yields, but for different reasons. 2017 was a year of extreme drought, while 2018 was marked in the first part of the year by heavy rainfall. This meant that potential yields were naturally much reduced by the difficulties of the flowering period. Subsequently however, a long hot dry summer ensued. Water levels in the soil had been replenished, and the result of this excellent ripening period on a low yield is evident in the 2018 Vintage Port, which is magnificently ripe, profound and expressive.’
- Sandeman & Offley Classic Vintages, 2018: Sogrape Vinhos were one of the first companies to announce they are declaringclassic 2018 vintage ports from all their estates, Sandeman, Offley and Ferreira. ‘2018 is one of the best, if not the best, vintage years I have witnessed,’ stated Sogrape’s winemaker Luís Sottomayor. ‘The special conditions experienced during the 2018 harvest came together to produce wines that combine extraordinary elegance with an unusual structure, thus achieving excellent complexity and balance, with great ageing potential,’ he added.
- Quevedo Classic Vintage 2018: Another port declaration for this new generation family winery in the Douro. In the recent live YouTube tasting, hosted in collaboration with VWP and the B.F.T, the winemaker announced they will be declaring 2018 as a classic vintage which is another 3-year-in-a-row declaration for this port producer. Quantities are tiny, only 5000 bottles produced and are available in the UK exclusively by VWP. According to Oscar Quevedo ‘2018 was an early harvest and production was tiny, we only produced 5000 bottles, but its concentration of flavour made us believe our 2018 vintage port has the quality equivalent to a classic vintage.’
- Calem & Barros Classic Vintages, 2018: Sogevinous declared two of its estates as classic vintages, Calem & Barros. Carlos Alves, Sogevinous Port winemaker, said: “2018 was a particularly challenging year, with adverse weather conditions resulting in a lower yield, albeit of excellent quality. In general, the 2018 Vintage ports stand out for their freshness, elegance and excellent balance between sweetness and acidity.”
2018 Single Quinta Releases
Single Quinta or Single Vineyard vintage ports are gaining ground in recent years. These ports are the epitome of terroir and are offered at unbeatable prices. They are designed to last 15-20 years and, in some cases, even more. In a “Drinks Business” article Paul Symington said: “I would argue that a great Quinta Port at £25 to £30 is one the wine world’s greatest purchases and indeed bargains”.
The famous Quinta Do Vesuvio Vineyard- showing the magnificence of the Douro terroir
- Quinta do Vesuvio & Dow’s Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira vintage ports, 2018: The Symington family announced that only tiny quantities were produced from these famous single quinta and these are the only two selected to be released en primeur this year. Only 965 cases produced for the Vesuvio and only 510 cases for the Dow’s Ribeira.
- Fonseca Guimaraens & Croft Quinta da Roeda vintage ports, 2018. Fonseca will release a 2018 Guimaraens Vintage Port – the first bottling under the Guimaraens label since 2015. Croft will release a 2018 single quinta vintage Port from its historic Quinta da Roêda estate. Winemaker David Guimaraens comments: “It is important to note that the 2018 wines have the highest colour intensity of recent vintages, which is a sign of good extraction and longevity.”
- Burmester’s Quinta Arnozelo & Kopke’s Quinta de São Luiz vintage ports, 2018: Apart from classic vintages Sogevinous will also release Burmester and Kopke as single vineyard vintage ports.
- Ramos Pinto Quinta Bom Retiro vintage port, 2018: Quinta do Bom Retiro is only produced in exceptional years from the best plots on the estate. Speaking on behalf of Ramos Pinto, Jorge Rosas CEO, commented that the 2018 vintage was "the definition of elegance. It is the perfect fingerprint of the exceptional and unique vineyards at Quinta do Bom Retiro".
Vintage Wine & Port is offering the 2018 ports at unbeatable en primeur prices . To view the wines available to purchase just follow the link to our 2018 vintage port page by clicking here.