(2020) Very deep and opaque in colour, there's a fascinating floral and honeyed note to the aroma, perhaps herbal, but not green, more a slightly exotic touch of pot pourri perhaps. In the mouth this is dense and beautifully sweet and smooth, with a balsamic richness and intense sweet blueberry fruit. Luscious, the firm line of acidity and grippy, spicy tannin kicks in to remind you this is a baby. The wine has richness and weight of sweet fruit concentration, but structure too. It's an approachable and 'pretty' Port this, giving masses of immediate pleasure. Will be shipped October/November 2020.
(2020) Sandeman is perhaps the most dense, almost black colour of the three Sogrape 2018s tasted here. A lovely sense of kirsch-like ripeness and purity here, maybe even Black Forest gateau, with its density of cherry and depth of chocolate. There's a lovely floral lift too, edged with violet and ashy aromatics. In the mouth it is, in some ways, the marriage of the Offley and Ferreira, with the sweet, opulent fruit and creamy openess of the Offley, but the muscle and brooding depth, and structural elements, of the Ferreira. A sumptuous 2018 this, drinking surprisingly well now but undoubtedly built for the long haul. It is the best Sandeman I have every tasted. No retail listings for the 2018 as yet, so price and stockist quoted is for the 2016, and is indicative only.
(2019) Famed 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.