The 2016 Port Vintage Declared

Majestic Port Vineyards in the Douro as the 2016 Vintage was declared

Majestic Port Vineyards in the Douro

The majority of the great old Port houses of the Douro have spoken and 2016 is indeed a vintage.

The declaration of a vintage year in the world of Port is still a marking of an achievement and by extension cause for celebration. Rightly so the collective Port producers have been judicious with their declarations naming it a vintage year three to four times per decade on average.

Like all wines Port has evolved with adaption of modern winemaking practices and technology in the winery and in the vineyards. It is perhaps due to technology and a nod to contemporary styles that the 2016 Ports are uncharacteristically drinkable and in most cases quite enjoyable in their infancy.

Despite the early drinkability of most of these 2016 Ports it’s probably too early to make any broad assessment of the vintage. With that said, I will say that 2016 will be a vintage worth cellaring for decades even if it never reaches the heights of 2011, 1994, or 1963.

I was fortunate enough to take part in a tasting of 11 Vintage Ports from the newly declared 2016 vintage. The tasting was sponsored by the Symington Family Estates, The Fladgate Partnership, and Quinta do Noval.

Before the tasting was I able to catch up with Rupert Symington of the Symington Family Estates. The Symington Family Estates are owners and managers of classic Port Houses including: Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s, Quinta do Vesuvio, and most recently Cockburn’s. In sum, the Symington’s control roughly one-third of the entire Port trade.

Rupert Symington was in fine spirits and was happy to report that the “premium Port business is as strong as ever.” While so many wine and spirit categories have changed to best capture the current mood, the Port business has stayed the course offering their wide array of styles ranging from value-minded Rubys and Tawnys to the ultra-premium Vintage Ports.

“Vintage Port is still a shared drink something to be enjoyed after a dinner.” He went on to explain that Port “has highest cost grapes in world.” The steep and difficult terrain along with scarce rainfall conspire to deliver very low yields in the typical Port vineyard.

We talked about other Port styles and we both share a love for the Tawny style as it is amazingly versatile being served before and after dinner. An opened bottle of Tawny Port will do fine in your refrigerator for months so it’s always a good idea to have a bottle on hand.

It is clear that the Port industry has maintained its majesty and traditions well into the 21st century.

Here are my quick notes on the 11 2016 Ports tasted on May, 9, 2018.

Cockburn’s Vintage Port Oporto 2016
Brilliant, deep ruby color. The aromatics are very intense offering scents of red currant, boysenberry, and five spice with supporting notes of raisins and ginger biscuits. The palate confirms the nose delivering a red fruit-driven core with flavors of red currant. The finish is long and lingering with firm tannins. Full-bodied and nicely balanced with a opulent texture.

Croft Vintage Port Oporto 2016
Brilliant, intense ruby/purple color. The aromatics are very intense offering scents of wild berries and violet with supporting notes of black currant and boysenberry. The palate confirms the nose delivering a red and black fruits-driven core with flavors of strawberry. The finish is long and lingering with chewy tannins. Full-bodied and nicely balanced with a supple texture.

Dow’s Vintage Port Oporto 2016
Brilliant, dark purple color. The aromatics are very intense offering scents of fig, violet, and plum with supporting notes of dried herbs, cocoa, lavender, and slate. The palate confirms the nose delivering a red and black fruits-driven core with flavors of black cherry. The finish is long and lingering with supple tannins. Full-bodied and nicely balanced with a opulent texture.

Fonseca Vintage Port Oporto 2016
Brilliant, intense purple to black color. The aromatics are very intense offering scents of black cherry, cassis, and mint with supporting notes of violet and star anise. The palate echoes the nose delivering a black fruit-driven core with flavors of blackberry. The finish is long and lingering with supple tannins. Full-bodied and nicely balanced with a opulent texture.

Graham’s Vintage Port Oporto 2016
Brilliant, dark purple color. The aromatics are very intense offering scents of black fruits, mint, and thyme with supporting notes of cocoa, forest floor, and black currants. The palate echoes the nose delivering a black fruit-driven core with flavors assertive accents of herbs and earth. The finish is long and lingering with ripe tannins. Full-bodied and nicely balanced with a opulent texture.

Quinta do Noval Vintage Port Oporto 2016
Brilliant, intense purple color. The aromatics are very intense offering scents of black fruits, black tea, and slate with supporting notes of black cherry and cassis. The palate confirms the nose delivering a black fruit-driven core with flavors of blackberry and supporting notes of five spice. The finish is long and lingering with supple tannins. Full-bodied and nicely balanced with a viscous and jammy texture.

Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port Oporto 2016
Brilliant, intense purple color. The aromatics are very intense offering scents of black fruits, plum, and slate with supporting notes of dried herbs and cassis. The palate echoes the nose delivering a black fruit-driven core with flavors of boysenberry. The finish is long and lingering with firm tannins. Full-bodied and perfectly balanced with a opulent texture.

Quinta da Romaneira Vintage Port Oporto 2016
Brilliant, dark purple color. The aromatics are very intense offering scents of raspberry and red currant with supporting notes of slate, strawberry, and dried herbs. The palate confirms the nose delivering a red fruit-driven core with flavors of plum. The finish is long and lingering with supple tannins. Full-bodied and nicely balanced with a supple texture.

Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port Oporto 2016
Brilliant, intense purple color. The aromatics are very intense offering scents of raspberry, boysenberry, and pomegranate with supporting notes of dried herbs, black tea, and thyme. The palate echoes the nose delivering a red and black fruits-driven core with flavors of black cherry. The finish is long and lingering with silky tannins. Full-bodied and nicely balanced with a opulent texture.

Warre’s Vintage Port Oporto 2016
Brilliant, dark ruby/purple color. The aromatics are very intense offering scents of black fruits, violet, and star anise with supporting notes of rose petal and blackberry. The palate confirms the nose delivering a black fruit-driven core with flavors of cassis. The finish is long and lingering with supple tannins. Full-bodied and nicely balanced with a voluptuous texture.

Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port Oporto 2016
Brilliant, dark purple color. The aromatics are very intense offering scents of raspberry, red currant, and anise with supporting notes of black cherry and lavender. The palate confirms the nose delivering a red and black fruits-driven core with flavors of wild berries. The finish is long and lingering with ripe tannins. Full-bodied and nicely balanced with a juicy texture.

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