(2020) Principally made from Jaen (Mencia) alongside Touriga Nacional, this red wine from the mountainous Dão region of Portugal really is a 2003, aged 18 months in older French oak barrels, but then for well over a decade in bottle by the iconoclastic João Tavares de Pina. The colour is aged and mellow, brick on the rim, with aromas of dried red berries, sweet damp earth and undergrowth truffle and briar. Served quite cool, the fruit on the palate is delicious, sweeter and riper than the nose might suggest, and firmer and more youthful too: there's a creamy richness of black fruits, spicy tannins and cooling acidity into a long finish. It's a treat, and though I have no idea how much longer you could keep this, question is, why would you?
(2019) Vintage Ports are made only in the best years, and Vasques de Carvalho's 2016 is a selection of their best from that harvest, matured for 12 months in 6,000-litre wooden barrels. It is bottled unfiltered and should be decanted for serving. A very deep, opaque colour, the aromas are dense, meaty and darkly vinous, blueberry and damson fruit with just a tiny floral inflection coming through in this very young wine. It strikes the palate with glorious sweetness, a ripe, creamy richness of black fruit, super-sweet and mouth-filling, the quality of spirit evident in the quiet way it supports. There's great balance here, chocolate richness and fruit, but elegant in terms of its acid, tannin and long finish. A wine that can be broached now for its sweet and charming fruit and youthful vigour, but which will also age for decades.
(2019) Aged tawnies bear an age statement that indicates their style and approximate age, though normally they are blends of various vintages chosen to create a consistent quality and character - in this case that spans wines between seven and 14 years old. After its considerable time in barrel, this has a toffee colour with hint of ruby at the core and an inviting nose of walnut and rich Muscavado sugar, plump raisins and a typical lift of shellac. On the palate it has a lovely sweetness, soft and creamy, the spirit beautifully subsumed beneath the lightly leafy but coffee-ish notes, Agen prune and raisins, and a very nicely balanced finish. What a charming 10-Year-Old. 136g/l of residual sugar.
(2019) Wines in this blend are between 12 and 25 years old, the extra decade or so in barrel not altering the colour too much, but adding to the firm, burnished, walnutty, cinnamon-stick aromatics. There's deep Seville orange fruitiness too, but the aromas are polished and dark. On the palate the 138g/l residual sugar makes its sweet presence felt, but there is so much incisive citrussy fruit still, and those inter-weaving complex layers of nuttiness and old polished wood as well as acidity. A darker, more intense style than the 10-year-old.
(2019) LBV, or Late-Bottled Vintage, wines come from a single harvest just like Vintge Ports. They do not necessarily come from years that have been 'declared' for the release of vintage wines, and unlike Vintage Ports, which are bottled after a short period in oak casks, these spend many years maturing in cask, so that they are considered ready to drink on release. After four years ageing in a combination of oak and stainless steel, this has a delightful brightness and elegance on the nose, the spirit disappearing into a pool of pitch-black fruit sweetness and chocolate. Silky on the palate too, the abundant sweetness of fruit is offset by a tangy, cherry-skin acidity, the spirit warming the finish and the coffee and toast adding to that. A lovely wine, drinking well.
(2019) Another totally convincing and fabulous white from the Douro Valley, a blend of Viosinho and Gouveio, which I suspect has been given the full Burgundian treatment, aged in French oak and balancing creamy, ripe and enveloping lusciousness with a strictly-defined acidity. The nose has spices, tobacco and vanilla, layered beneath creamy, very ripe orchard fruit. In the mouth it is filled to overflowing with that ripe fruit: pears and apples yes, an orangey slice of fruity acidity and hints of apricot and yellow plum, but the vanilla and the slick of creamy richness adds to the weight and texture, while dazzling acidity keeps it super fresh too. A fabulous alternative to a Chassagne or Meursault perhaps? Certainly a premium white from the Douro and worthy of consideratrion for sure.
(2019) Produced only in exceptional vintages, this foot-trodden blend of whole-bunch Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and other Douro varieties was fermented in lagares and open barrels and aged for 24 months in French oak. This has a lovely nose, vinous and dark, with cherry and ripe plum, again a cocoa and liquorice twist of darkness, and a plush underpinning of quality oak. The palate is flooded with sweet fruit, but it's an elegant wine, the tannins finer than in the Boango bottlings, a real sense of refinement and harmony into a long finish. This should also cellar well for five years or more.
(2019) The 2013 vintage of this Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca blend, again aged in French oak for 24 months. Broadly similar on the nose to the 2012 with that same marriage of chocolate, spices and dark plum and vine fruits, but a suggestion of a slightly juicier character. That carries through on the palate, where the tannins and charriness of the barrel gives a bit of rustic bite to this, a bit of chewiness, but the fruit is that little bit fresher, edgier, with juicy black fruit and tangy acidity into the finish.
(2019) A blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca, the grapes foot-trodden in lagares, before the wines is aged in for 24 months in French oak. Deep, chocolaty and plummy aromas, this is all about black fruit and a ripe, creamy and dark set of aromatics. In the mouth it's a substantial wine, the oak ageing adding a warming, spicy, coffee and cocoa under-pinning, but the sweetness of the fruit and a nicely tart, plum skin edge of roughening tannin and acidity gives this a bit of cut and thrust, lengthening the finish nicely.
(2019) Comparing to the 2016 vintage side-by-side was fascinating, with a such a clear family resemblance, but slightly different personalities. I found this 2017 just a little more luscious than the cool and elegant 2016, the mid-palate fruit just a little more peachy and sweet, and yet that towering, zesty acidity pushes through, with a similar grip and texture, and firm, dry clarity in the finish. Another absolutely lovely Douro white, perception-changing and experessing the minerality of the terroir.