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(2024) Fantastic aromatics here, the floral bouquet and such ripe black and red berry fruit, solid blackcurrant but the graphite quality of the fruit and possibly barrels adds so much character. Smooth, seamless quality to this, creamy tannins and focused, mineral acidity. One of the group thought this was slightly corked, and I could detect something that sat between the high-toned florality and very mild corkiness, but it drank really well.
(2022) A new wine for the Douro's Quinta de Ventozelo, LOCI brings together five varieties from eight different vineyards: Tinta Amarela grown at 350 metres makes up 50% of the blend, plus Tinta Roriz (250-350 metres, 20%), Sousão (200 metres, 10%), Tinto Cão (250 metres, 10%) and Touriga Nacional (150-250 metres, 10%). Vineyards are 20-30 years old, and after vinification in Lagars, the wine was matured in second and third year French oak barrels for 12 months. The wine has a vibrant crimson/purple colour. A little balsamic and bay leaf note over red fruits on the nose is attractive, The note adds a wisp of savoury smokiness. In the mouth the wine is very pretty and very buoyant, despite 14% alcohol; fruit is plush and ripe, but balances a keen raspberry and sweet, juicy ripeness with hints of cocoa and and smooth oak tannins, the cherry-ripe acids also in balance. It's a concentrated and multi-layered wine. Recommended retail price is 25€, but there is no UK stockist at time of review.
(2022) From 40- to 70-year-old vines of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, made by the Alvaro Van Zeller. Bold and vibrant crimson/black colour, and fabulously chocolaty, sumptuous aromas, laden with spices and cocoa, a little violet lift adding a top note to the plush aromas. In the mouth there is huge sweetness and ripeness of creamy fruit, super density and smoothness to the tannins and the fruit, underpinned by high quality French oak and hinting at Port-like flavours, copious sweetness and length. A fascinating and fabulous, large-scaled wine (15% alcohol).
(2021) The blend varies from year to year but always bigger proportions of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Francesa, in this blend 80% Nacional. Again, floral hints to the creamy, quite dense black fruits, some clove spice and graphite. Great density and structure here, the ripe and creamy tannins give great grip against fresh cherry-pit acidity, and the black fruit builds through the mid-palate in terms of fullness and creamy sweetness. The finish has lovely balance and purity, finishing on fruit extract and acidity.
(2021) Essentially the same blend as the 2017, a slightly dustier character, a little more red fruited and has the rose-like florals. The palate coming together beautifully with that buouyant red fruit, a bit of fat and juiciness through the mid-palate, supple, but the density is offset by striking acidity, juicy and with a squirt of lemony freshness to end on the acid line and fruit.
(2021) Christian says this had 50% new oak in this vintage, much more than normal, because of the quality of fruit. A touch of balsamic quality, but then wonderfully fresh and focused, a rounded, creamy, wonderfully smooth and rounded character, but that peony fragrance and perfume exudes from the glass. The palate is taut and relatively firm and muscular because of the ripe but striking tannins, but there is so much flesh and charm from the sweet fruit too, once again running into a fresh, mineral-driven finish.
(2021) This Douro DOC wine is made from Touriga Nacional, which some still wine makers of the Douro like more than others, but Christian vinifies this mostly in stainless steel with around 35% of oak for ageing, trying emphasise the elegance and aromatics. There is a little more meatiness and 'solidity' compared to the Cedro, but then a touch of floral leafiness too to add dimension. The palate bursts through with great sweetness, a realy smooth silkiness of ripe black fruit, but then a liquorice stripe of endive and bittersweetness really grips and freshens the finish.
(2021) The 2018 has a singing, vivid purple colour and like the other 2018s here, such an elegant yet intense aromatic, touching into the old rose florals again, but quite meaty, a blackcurrant ripeness of fruit. In the mouth this is giving immediate pleasure, with so much sweet, juicy and ripe black berry fruit bursting on the tongue, but then those quite meaty but ripe and smooth tannins joining the stricter acids to give definition and length, the oak impercetible really as it finishes on fruit and freshness.
(2019) Noval Petit VerdotFamed for its Port wines, Quinta do Noval has also carved a fine reputation for the quality of its Douro Valley unfortified wines. Some of these are made from traditional varieties of the region like Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, but under the ownership of AXA Millesimes and their Managing Director, Christian Seely, French varieties like Syrah and Petit Verdot have also been planted.

Though highly unsusual in the Douro, these varieties have been chosen to specifically match the Douro's climate and soils. As well as appearing in blends, they have also been bottled as single varietal wines. The Médoc's Petit Verdot really benefits from the extra heat and sunshine of the Douro, and this 2016 was aged for 10 months in French oak, 40% of which was new. It pours a deep, saturated crimson-black, immediately suggesting concentration and density. Vinous aromas take in black cherry and blackcurrant, a delicate and fragrant exotic spiciness from the oak, and pepper and cedar coming through too. In the mouth that intensity of fruit and extract is there: plush, concentrated and dark, but with a fine edge of acidity retained, something that suggests the freshness that the Douro soils somehow give to even the beefiest wines, and a taut tannin structure. Match to a steak or some venison, and perhaps decant for an hour or two to soften those youthful tannins.
(2019) Beautiful lift to the nose here, violets and sweet spices, a slick of black fruits and lightening touch of raspberry in there too. Rich but freshness too, a graphite edge to black cherry and cassis, smooth and fine tannins and beautifully integrated acidity.
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