2016 Vintage Port
Reserve something very special for the future!
Purity, harmony, precision.
This was how Christian Seely of Quinta do Noval described the style of 2016’s Vintage Ports when we tasted them in London this May. He admitted he had not been sure he’d see another vintage as good as the fabulous 2011… but ‘now we have it.’
Vintage Port ‘declarations’ are not offered every year, but only when the wines are particularly special. The 2016 declaration may not have been this year’s best kept secret, but a sense of anticipation was maintained until the majority of the wines were finally released for tasting last month. Growers had long claimed they were torn between declaring 2015 or 2016 and, in the end, few declared their 2015s last year. The 2015s were delicious, but the 2016s look even better, and in most cases longer-lived too.
Johnny Symington (whose family oversees six of the names featured in this offer) summed up the style of the 2016s as ‘balanced, elegant, fruit-driven but with freshness, perfectly aligned.’
I certainly don’t disagree, and having tasted the wines again to select the cream of the crop for this en primeur offer, I can say with confidence that this is a vintage in which we’re spoilt for choice!
As well as their obvious quality and consistency, these are wines which all have true personality, reflecting both nature and nurture: the growing conditions of the vintage and origins, and the hand of those who made them (so if you’re a fan of a particular house style, you can buy with absolute confidence). I was also struck by the fine quality of the tannins in all the wines, and the structure that underpins their natural poise and elegance.
In short, they are absolutely delicious, and promise a long and rewarding life ahead.
Harvest at Quinta da Roeda, Croft
Smith Woodhouse’s Quinta da Madalena
The only disappointment is that, thanks to weather conditions (take a look at ‘The Viticultural Year’ below for more details) and careful selection, volumes are down significantly. Taylor’s made 6,200 cases, for example – around half their production in a generous year.
With demand likely to be high, we are offering the wines en primeur earlier than usual.
Our selection again includes a Vintage Port under The Society’s Exhibition label, which makes a great place to start, as well as a selection of mixed cases and several wines in increasingly popular half bottles, which offer an easier opening decision and - as smaller bottles age more quickly - the need for less cellaring (at only a modest premium).
Joanna Locke MW
Society Buyer for Portugal
The Viticultural Year
For all the anticipation, 2016 was not the result of a straightforward growing season: all houses told us that it was a year in which you had not just to know your vineyards but also be very hands on with them.
Adrian Bridge of The Fladgate Partnership (which includes Taylor’s, Croft and Fonseca) explained there was a need for vigilance after a warm, wet start to the growing season followed by a cold wet spring. An unusually cool March slowed the growth of the vines, and then flowering was irregular. However, with the water table replenished in the early part of the season, the vines were better able to stand the hot dry summer which stabilised conditions in the vineyards.
Johnny Symington stressed the need for patience and the value of experience, when late August and mid-September rains arrived to refresh vineyards that had been hit by two August heatwaves. Harvest was generally later than usual and fine autumn weather allowed long slow ripening of the grapes.
The inevitable result of this combination of factors is that volumes are down once again in 2016, but well timed rain – a key element in most good vintages – was critical to its success.
This offer will close at 8pm, Tuesday 10th July, 2018