(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) What a beautifully perfumed wine made from Voisinho and Gouveio, lots of floral character, lots of downy peach skins and mint, a hint of citrus peel. The palate has a streaking freshness of salty minerality and lemon zest, but there is charm too, a mid-palate peachiness, but then the citrus and salts absolutely powers through the finish, the oak perhaps adding a little roundness, but surprisingly fresh. Vinified in 225-litre oak barrels, 30% new oak, the head pieces made from Acacia rather than oak to lower the oak character. Christian is experimenting with 500-litre barrels at Romaneira and likes what he sees so far.
(2021) This has 25% Syrah in the blend along with Touriga Nacional and some other local grapes. It has a delightful nose, real floral lift and buoyancy, creamy berries and delicate cedar spices. The palate has lots of energy and bite, keen but creamy tannins and a stripe of meaty acidity to give this some heft as well as charm.
(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) 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.
(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.
(2020) This recently released wine is currently available by the six-bottle case, with equivalent per bottle price shown. It will become more widely available, but note: the excellent 2003 vintage is currently £10 off in Ocado, down to £32.99, until 2nd January 2020.
(2020) Noval's Late Bottled Vintage is unflitered and unlike many LBV's will improve in the bottle as it cellars, but is best decanted off of its sediment. Having spent over five years in barrel, it's a glorious wine, crimson-black in colour, with a soaring perfume of cherry and violet, blackcurrant, vanilla and spices. In the mouth there is abundant sweetness, ripe black and red berries, with a chocolaty density, super-smooth tannins and a pert cherry acidity to keep it on its toes. With around 90g/l of residual sugar this is definitely sweet, but retains a lovely freshness too. For mince pies or Christmas pudding, also hard and blue cheeses, a banker.
(2020) The table wines of Port producer Quinta do Noval are excellent, but until this vintage the tiny production of their white wine meant it did not reach the UK market. Now, a small shipment is with UK importer Gonzalez Byass, and is available from selected independent retailers. From vineyards at over 500 metres altitude, it's a blend of the local Viosinho and Gouveio, planted on schist soils. Very pale green in colour, there's a mineral and citrus intensity about the nose, but there's a lovely suggestion of salts and gentle summer floral notes too, combining both a sense of concentration and delicacy. In the mouth the wine has a very similar tension, it is full and sweet-fruited as it flows across the mid-palate, but then that mineral salts and citrus zest grip and brightness gives it real mouth-watering intensity. Long, very pure, this would be very good with white fish I think, though Noval suggest poultry too.