(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.
(2019) A blend of traditional local grapes, Viosinho, Codega de Larinho, Malvasia and Rabigato, this surprises as Douro whites so often do with its particular freshness and mineral intensity. Unoaked, it does go through malolactic, which only rounds-out the texture and perhaps softens the acidity a little, but it stays dry, flecked with a salty mineral character, yet there is a lemon rind fruit and light waxiness there, almost like a dry Clare Valley Riesling perhaps, into a long and substantial finish of texture and flavour. Delicious and understated. Watch the video for more information.
(2019) This blend of aromatic varieties including Voishino, Malvasia and Moscatel, was a Wine of the Week in its previous vintage, and this could easily have made that slot too: beautifully fresh, perfumed and crisp, yet with a bit of slippery texture and weight, good orchard and stone-fruit concentration, and a zippy finish.
(2018) Noval's late-bottled vintage Port comes from a single vineyard and, unlike cheaper LBV's, the unfiltered wine will cellar and improve over many years - though its long ageing in cask also means it will drink well from the day of release. This is much more vinous, cherry-scented and immediately dark and firm on the nose compared to the Muscat tasted alongside, though it does have some little violetty floral aspects. On the palate the stripe of liquorice and rasp of plum skins, as well as quite definite tannins, all gives an edge to the sweet and juicy cherry fruit and cocoa richness of the wine. A beauty and on offer at £17.95 for a full bottle in Ocado until 1st January 2019. Use the wine-searcher link for other stockists. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) A remarkable wine this in many, from the producer of one of Portugal's rarest and most expensive table wines, Barca Velha. Barca Velha is a red, as might be expected from the heat of the Douro, but here in Planalto we have an inexpensive, crisp and refreshing, delicate white. The secret to that is altitude, with numerous indigenous grape varieties grown on the upper slopes and picked early to retain acidity and freshness. The result is a wine with a delicate floral and lime freshness and limpidity, but gorgeous texture and big thwack of seaside salinity and pithy lemon to finish. Just terrific - flavour, elegance and enjoyment in this modestly-priced wine. Note that the Wine Society also sells in half bottles. Watch the video for more information and food-matching suggestions.
(2018) A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão and Sousão foot-trodden in lagares, before spending 18 months in barrel at the quinta in the Douro. Black as pitch, the nose is at once meaty and suffused with rich, dark, chocolaty berries, a little kirsch-like lift adds to the charm, elegance and complexity. In the mouth there's a very unforced feeling of concentration, the fruit deep and creamy, but the agile, mineral acidity and rasp of firm tannin giving a juiciness and length. Like all of these 2016's, Noval needs time, but is a beauty in the making. 82g/l Residual sugar.
(2018) Touriga Franca (40%), Tinta Roriz (30%), Touriga Nacional (20%) and Tinta Barroca (10%). Opaque and dark, there's a touch of meat-stock and woodiness, then dark-roasted coffee beans on the nose, but there is lift too, with a little floral and kirsch character to follow. Extremely rich and sweet on the palate, a real depth of raisin and Maraschino cherry fruitiness, backed up by chocolate and more coffee-bean espresso. A hugely ripe and sweet young Port this, of very good quality. 92g/l of Residual Sugar.