A last minute invitation got me into a Quinta do Noval Masterclass a couple of weeks. A great opportunity to have a look at just about all of the current releases and a few back vintages, including a couple of vintages of the revered Nacional Vintage Port.
The tasting was led by Aymeric de Gironde, the International Sales Director for Axa Millismes, who did a great job of bridging the gap between a straight forward lecture about a grand old port house and giving a sence of the place and the people that live and work there. There was enough information to start a profile on the Qunita, so I won’t bore you with all the gritty details right now. It should be up on the site in the next couple of weeks.
We ran through the table wines, then the tawnies followed by the vintage ports. A fairly big range, but I could see the quality from the cheapest tawny through to the top end table wine.
Maria Mansa 2003: This wine was Noval’s first commercial attempt at a Douro table wine and its a good drink. It’s mainly a blend of the two torigas. Shisty and earthy on the nose with beetroot, plum and cherry. In the mouth it’s medium boddied and fairly straight forward but enjoyable with blueberry, cherry and plum with some pepper/hot cinnamon. 88 Pts. $33
Cedro de Noval 2005: This is named after a big old cedar that provides some shade in the courtyard at the Quinta. This is a blend of mostly syrah with the torigas and some Tinta Cao making up the balance. Flinty, shisty nose with cherry, plum and mulberry with herby undergrowth. In the mouth, it’s bright and fresh, well balanced and stylish. Silky, fine tannins frame the fruit with a bit of tar and mint. Minerals show throughout, but mostly on the finish. 91 Pts. $44
Quita do Noval 2005: This is the flagship table wine, and for the price it is excellent value. I don’t expect this to last for ever however as the prices of the top level Douro wines are heading north. This is similar in many respects to the Cedro, however the minerality and finesse are taken up a couple of notches. Gunsmoke and hot rocks on the nose with perfectly ripe plum, red cherry and blueberry. The fruit is really expressive and the fleshy, soft tannins deliver a lush texture. At the same time, it has a backbone of acid that I think will allow it to age for quite some time. Excellent stuff. 95 Pts. $141
Quinta do Noval Tawny: this is the basic tawny which uses fruit from Class A growers and is made in an auto lagar. Toffee and raisin mixed in with some plum and spirit on the nose. In the mouth its tangy cherry and plum with hot cinnamon and a touch of clove. Fresh and fruity. 87 Pts. $35
Quinta do Noval 10 year old Tawny: Spirity raisins with Christmas cakes spices and mixed nuts. The palate is a bit rum and raisin with plum, rosewater and more nuts. Fresh and full of life. 90 Pts. $79
Quinta do Noval 20 year old Tawny: Smokey and nutty, with soft spirit, light raisins, old wood and an almost salty note on the nose. Very complex on the plate with layers of flavours: rose, raisins and currants, roasted walnuts, smoke and clove. Driving spirit and fairly dry too. Excellent drinking. 93 Pts.
Quita do Noval Colheita 1995: The nose on this wasn’t really giving up too much, some old wood, something a bit floral and raisins. But on the palate it explodes with vitality and fresh cherry and raisins. There is more acid here, but there is also plenty of sweetness to provide balance. Very long finish with a touch of warmth. 90 Pts. $95
Quinta do Noval LBV 2003: Plenty of fruit on the nose here: plum and dark cherry with clove and anise. This really is like a baby VP in character with plum, cherry and rosella fruit with liquorice and clove. Meaty and dense this is a ripping LBV for drinking now. 92 Pts.
Quinta do Noval ‘Sival’ Vintage Port 2005: This is made from a leased Quinta called Sival. The style here is for a lighter and earlier drinking style of vintage port than the traditional vintage from Noval. Nice juicy fruit, rosella and cherry for the most part, there is a bit of plum in there too. Anise and earthy herbs add some complexity. It’s quite brooding at the moment, but highly drinkable. 89-90 Pts. $95
Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2004: This is the stuff. Its quite grapey and raisiny with plum and dark cherry, a little blackberry too. In the palate the first thing that hits me is the lush tannins, followed by some excellent fruit that shows perfect ripeness. More dark fruits, shot with minerals and earthy goodness. Very early in it’s life, this should grow to be a classic. 93 Pts.
Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2003: If I thought the 2004 was good, this takes things to a different level. The nose is fully of classic douro notes: smoke and hot rocks, gun smoke and clove. Intense blackberry, dark cherry and rosella. The tannins are fleshy and ripe which give the wine luxury texture. This has all bases covered and will live a very long, full life. 97 Pts. $185
Quinta do Noval Nacional 1967: It may be the only time I ever taste this wine, so I jumped at the offer of a refill when it was offered. Old coffee beans and smoke with quality cigar tobacco, lifted up by some dried currants, varnish and some floral notes. Amazingly complex in the mouth too, layers of flavour, some grape notes, anise, raisins and old leather. Excellent mouthfeel and the length here is amazing. The only way to describe this is: Wow. 95 Pts.
Quinta do Noval Nacional 2000: I was thinking that I would be in for a bit of a struggle here, 8 year old vintage port is generally closed down and hard going. But this was so very open and drinking like the 99 point wine that it clearly is. I was supprised that this was my favourite wine of the tasting, thinking the 67 would surely be. The nose is dense and floral with bright fruit and overwhelming sense of welcoming. Seductive and fleshy in the mouth, the wine seems delicate and light but has deep intensity, integrity and complexity. If there is a port you should have an epiphany with, this is it. If you don’t get the port bug from this wine, you don’t like port. 99 Pts.