Situated above the right bank of the Douro, roughly ten kilometres as the crow flies west of Pinhao, Quinta Nova is arguably better known for its stunning vista than for its ports. The quality of its output during the 1990s, when the property was owned by Burmester (1991-1999), fell short of the view from the quinta’s heights. Still, the inexpensive vintages from that period are generally worth trying by those fond of fruit-forward vintage ports, where expectations of greatness are held in check.
Consumed on 11 December 2020 after a four-hour decant, the 1997 Quinta Nova was largely opaque in the glass and in the process of fading from purple to maroon. The nose evinced a certain youthfulness; in particular, a hint of damp vegetation was noticeable albeit not off-putting. More agreeable was a very strong indication of blackberries, cut somewhat – oddly albeit not unpleasantly – by smoke and raw coffee beans. The fruit-forward style of this port was particularly evident at the fore-palate, where the blackberries tasted as compote. The wine offered little across the remainder of the palate and through the finish, save gentle spices and a touch of heat. And tannins. The latter had initially been masked by the fruit, which also served to disguise what is, in fact, a dry port.
Thin in weight and well balanced, this wine will probably be better once the tannins have integrated more fully in five or seven years. Whether it is worth the wait for this not-terribly-complex wine is a matter of personal preference.
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