JDAW dreams of Portugal - Harvest 2016

Anything to do with Port.
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Fonseca 1966
Posts: 15121
Joined: 23:51 Wed 20 Jun 2007
Location: Chesterfield, UK

Re: JDAW dreams of Portugal - Harvest 2016

Post by DRT » 22:00 Sat 21 Jan 2017

jdaw1 wrote:
21:35 Sat 21 Jan 2017
DRT wrote:
01:17 Tue 17 Jan 2017
Reading these detailed accounts of JDAW's exploits makes me feel like I was actually there! :D
Reading these detailed accounts makes me feel like AHB and DRT were actually there.
That just sounds like jealousy. Surely we are all in this together? All for one and one for all, and all that? If AHB and DRT were there doesn't that mean that all three of us were there in spirit? Is that not the same as you being there?
"The first duty of Port is to be red"
Ernest H. Cockburn

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Quinta do Noval Nacional 1962
Posts: 11760
Joined: 13:41 Mon 25 Jun 2007
Location: Berkshire, UK

Re: JDAW dreams of Portugal - Harvest 2016

Post by AHB » 08:42 Fri 17 Feb 2017

It took some time, but eventually the small group was complete. Their host for the visit was Ana, who was based at the Quinta and looked after the pre-booked and pre-organised visits. Most of the group had had the opportunity to visit Quinta do Noval before, but the pleasure of visiting this iconic vineyard never wore thin. Ana led the group around the back of the main house through a small alleyway, past the bubbling lagars on the left hand side to the grape reception area. A delivery of grapes had just arrived and the group stood for a few minutes watching the team work at the sorting table examining bunches of grapes as they moved up the conveyor belt to the destemmer and crusher. Only grapes in the best of conditions were to be allowed into the lagar.

Speaking of lagars, JDAW noticed that several of them were full of red, bubbling must. The look and smell from the room in which the lagars stood was heady and intoxicating - at least he dreamt it was - and one of the lagars was being emptied out with two of the Quinta's team working with wooden paddles to shovel the pulp into the back of a specially adapted truck used to take the solids to the press. Hard work, JDAW thought, but not as hard as having to look after 3 children (or was it 4?) when he was the parent-in-charge.
Noval Nacional.jpg
Noval Nacional.jpg (131.78 KiB) Viewed 438 times
The group walked on towards a small group of single story sheds. Moving past these they came to the pig sty where the famous Quinta do Noval pigs are kept - a story for another time if not already known to you. And then they were there. The Nacional vineyard. The most famous parcel of ungrafted vines in the world. Surrounded by the small, struggling vines which have to put so much effort into producing tiny but intensely flavoured grapes JDAW felt at peace. The vines had not yet been harvested and the grapes looked small and bitter, mostly red grapes but not exclusively (although the white grapes are rarely used in the Nacional blend). Looking round, JDAW dreamt that he was given permission to pick a grape or two and did just that. He popped a couple of grapes into his mouth expecting them to be sour and bitter. What he found was that they were quite the opposite. Despite being no bigger than half the size of his little finger nail, the flavour was intense and very sweet with the skin being thick and full of tannin. The combination was extraordinary and it became immediately obvious why Quinta do Noval was able to produce such astonishing ports from time to time.
Noval Branco.jpg
Noval Branco.jpg (70.71 KiB) Viewed 438 times
After basking in the glory of the Nacional vineyard, the group ascended to the top of the hill to a newly built entertaining area which gave astonishing views down the Pinhao river valley back towards the Douro. There JDAW and his fellow visitors were given a pre-lunch drink and an opportunity to try a glass of the new white wine from Quinta do Noval called Cedro do Noval Vinho Branco from the 2015 vintage, based on grapes growing on the vines growing around the top of the hill where JDAW was standing. It was very pleasant, light and refreshing and made an ideal pre-lunch drink. After having half an hour or so to admire the view and chat with some of his fellow visitors, JDAW's host guided them back to the main house where a small tasting of recent Noval vintages had been set up for them.
Noval barrels.jpg
Noval barrels.jpg (93.04 KiB) Viewed 438 times
Noval's tasting room is a well lit, white and wooden finished room with a large window looking into the barrel store where Noval's wood aged wines are kept. A view (and a smell if you open the door) which JDAW loved. JDAW turned his attention to the tasting where his host was opening a number of bottles and passing tasting glasses out to the group. The bottles were lines up and JDAW was very interested to see some of the recent and very limited volume ports which Noval had released in years where few producers had made full declarations. There was also an interesting range of ages and styles to compare and contrast to the core tasting of the Noval ports. The line up he imagined went something like this:
  • Quinta do Noval 2014 vintage port
  • Quinta do Noval 2013 vintage port
  • Quinta do Noval 2012 vintage port
  • Quinta do Noval 2011 vintage port
  • Quinta do Noval 2011 unfiltered LBV port
  • Quinta do Noval 2008 vintage port
  • Quinta do Noval 2007 vintage port
  • Noval Silval 2005 vintage port
Noval Tasting.jpg
Noval Tasting.jpg (63.91 KiB) Viewed 438 times
The tasting was a splendid opportunity to compare and contrast the style of Noval against the vintage variation. It also highlighted the quality of the ports produced by Noval even in the years when most other producers offered a single quinta style of port (or even no port at all). The group spent some time talking about the ports and their visit so far when one of the house staff arrived and whispered in the ear of their host. She turned to the group and announced that lunch was ready and asked them to follow her down the stairs to the dining room.
Top Port in 2017 (so far): Graham Stone Terraces 2015 and Quinta do Vesuvio 1994
2016 Port of the year: Cockburn 1908

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