(2023) A blend of Touriga Nacional, Sousão and Touriga Franca from vineyards at 350 metres altitude in the Cima Corgo. It is aged 18 months in French oak barrels. That's obvious on the nose, with a balsamic twist and mocha notes to black fruit that's also touched by herby sage notes. In the mouth this has volume and weight, the creamy polish of oak supports rich, sweet and ripe black plum fruit, with a chicory bite of bittersweetness. Its a rich and fruitcakey style.
(2023) A blend of 60% Viosinho and 40% Gouveio, this Reserva was fermented and aged in French oak barriques, half of which were new barrels. There is a nutty, almondy sheen aromatically, with a spicy and vibrantly orange and lemon freshness. There's a citrus peel sense of grippiness. In the mouth it's the mineral and salts decisiveness that is striking, a burgeoning, juicy citrus core, but all the time the creamy, crushed almond character adds to the weight and texture. Long and delicious.
(2023) Rui Cunha is the highly-experienced winemaker for this low intervention wine. A large proportion of the vineyards are almost 100 years old, the wine fermented is in stainless steel and unoaked. Brambles and savoury, spiced and lightly smoky aromas here precede a palate where copious sweet berry flavours mingle with herbs. There's a stripe of tannin that adds a fine, mouthwatering firmness and well balanced acidity too, in another stylish and food-friendly wine. A big blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca and Tinta Amarela.
(2023) Composed of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz, this spends 12 months in french oak. It has a plush and inviting nose, deeply fruited and berry-ripe, touches of meatiness and rosemary are lovely. The palate sings as clear as a bell with ripe black fruits, piped with an edge of raspberry, and the wine has a certain coolness, with elegant tannins and refined acidity. Delicious and great value again.
(2023) Another really lovely wine, which is a blend of the local Viosinho, Gouveio and Rabigato varieties. It is unoaked, but has an exquisite creaminess on nose and palate. Light apple and more exotic, peachy aromas also show some complexity of sunflower seeds and nuts. The palate has richness but also shimmering, glacial acidity, filling the palate with creamy but bright, quite orangy fruit. Delicious.
(2022) As always, Noval's LBV is a relatively rare unfiltered example that will age, but because it has matured five years in oak and chestnut barrels (instead of two years for Vintage Ports) it is also ready to drink as soon as it hits the market. It is made from fruit from Noval's own vineyards, trodden by foot in lagares. Such a deep, vibrant purple colour, the nose is beautifully refined, with a light ash and smoky mineral spice over dense blue/black fruits. In the mouth there's plenty of ripe, smooth and pure black fruit sweetness - glossy cherry and blackcurrant - with cocoa and dark mint chocolate notes, but again that touch of ashy, dry tannin gives a lovely refinement and excellent length.
(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) A typical Douro blend of 30% touriga franca, 30% tinta roriz, 25% tinta amarela and 15% touriga nacional, made in stainless steel. Vinous and dark fruited, cherry and plum with a wisp of smokiness. In the mouth this has a stripe of tannin that is dry and savoury, quite a grippy tannin profile, but the juiciness of the vine fruits and acid keep in mouth-watering and well-balanced.
(2022) Suggested by Laithwaites as a good mixer for a long drink with tonic and a sprig of rosemary, this is a relatively unusual rosé Port, made by Alvaro van Zeller. Quite delicate rose-touched floral aromatics over berry fruits. There is good sweetness on the palate, a touch of creamy toffee, but the gentle bite of the spirit and very good acidity combine to give a refreshing finish. Would also do well with cheeses I think.