(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.