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DECANTING PORT

Decanting portTawny Ports and full bodied, fruity Ports such as Fonseca BIN 27 do not require decanting, since they have been aged in cask or large wooden vats and filtered before bottling to remove any of the natural sediment there may have been in the wine. Simply open and these Port wines are ready for pouring.

Vintage Ports, on the other hand, only spend 2 years in wood before being bottled, unfiltered. Over time as the Vintage Port ages, the natural sediment in the wine will settle in the bottle, requiring that any Vintage Port be decanted prior to serving to remove this deposit.

Two Fonseca Port wines that have been aged for longer periods in wood, are Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Unfiltered and Fonseca Crusted. Both Port wines are bottled without being filtered and will 'throw' a very light deposit. So light is the deposit in the Late Bottled Vintage, that decanting is not necessary, but the Fonseca Crusted Port would certainly benefit from being being decanted, as the deposit will be more evident.

HOW TO DECANT PORT WINE

If your chosen bottle of Port has been moved recently, ensure that you stand the bottle upright for several hours before decanting. This will help the sediment in the wine to settle a little and will make the decanting of the Port easier.

Before you start, have a clean decanter at the ready. Alternatively, you could also use a clean empty bottle or a jug. Without shaking the bottle too much, remove the cork seal around the neck of the bottle, wipe off any dust that may have accrued and carefully insert the corkscrew. Depending on the age of the Vintage, the cork may have been in the bottle for many years, so it is important to treat it with care and pull gently from the bottle, so as not to snap the cork.

Slowly pour the Port into the decanter, gently raising your arm so as not to agitate the sediment in the bottle. A funnel can be useful at this point, although not entirely necessary, and particularly with older bottles of Vintage Port which will naturally have more sediment, a small piece of muslin cloth can help to catch any deposit from entering your decanter.

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History

Since the emergence of Vintage Port as a great classic wine in the first half of the 19th century, Fonseca has been one of its most admired and consistent producers.

The release of the legendary 1840, the first Vintage Port sold under the Fonseca name, marked the start of a steady stream of magnificent vintages which continues to this day. It has included such icons as the Fonseca 1868 and the extraordinary 1927, 1948, 1977 and 1994, all four of them 100-point wines. As Robert Parker wrote in The Wine Buyer's Guide, 'Fonseca is one of the great port lodges, producing the most exotic and most complex port. With its lush, seductive character, one might call it the Pomerol of Vintage ports.' James Suckling, in his authoritative book on Vintage Port, put it as follows: 'The vintage Ports of Fonseca are perhaps the most consistently great of them all. Not only do they have a striking fleshiness and powerful richness when young, but they retain that youthfulness for decades.' Four families have shaped the company's destiny since its foundation in 1815.

The story begins with the Fonsecas and Monteiros, the original founders of the business. Then came the Guimaraens family who led the firm for over a century and first established its reputation as a 'first growth' Vintage Port house. And finally the Yeatmans and their descendants who steered the company successfully through the second half of the 20th century and into the new millennium. While for the collector or connoisseur, Fonseca may be synonymous with Vintage Port, to many wine lovers around the world it is best known as the producer of Bin No.27, one of the most popular Ports ever made. 

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Vineyards

Over the years, Fonseca's determination to preserve and refine its distinctive house style has drawn it ever closer to the vineyard. The last three decades of the 20th century saw it invest in vineyard ownership and take a leading role in vineyard renovation in the Douro Valley. Fonseca's three estates, Panascal, Cruzeiro and Santo António, with their distinctive terroirs, have a key role in defining the unmistakable character of the firm's wines. Fonseca also became a pioneer of organic and sustainable viticulture, helping to conserve the unique ecosystem and landscape of the valley for future generations. As it approaches its bicentenary, Fonseca can take pride in its past and look forward to the future with confidence.

Wine drinkers increasingly seek wines of authenticity and character with a genuine story to tell and made by creative winemakers who understand their terroir and respect the environment. The wine critic James Suckling, author of the most comprehensive book on Vintage Port written to date, once described Fonseca as 'the Bentley' of Vintage Port, meaning the producer of wines for the connoisseur and enthusiast. Like the famous luxury cars, Fonseca Vintage Ports are thoroughbreds, the result of craftsmanship and skill, but also of passion and creativity. As it has since the mid-19th century, Fonseca continues to be defined by its position as one of a very small handful of top Vintage Port houses, a producer of wines by enthusiasts for enthusiasts.

 

The two Pinhão Valley estates of Quinta do Cruzeiro and Quinta de Santo António, have supplied Fonseca for over a hundred years.  Quinta do Panascal in the Távora Valley has a more recent association with Fonseca, but its wines perfectly complement those of the two Pinhão Valley properties as well as producing an exceptional single-quinta Vintage Port made exclusively from grapes grown on the estate.

The unique terroir of each quinta contributes its own distinctive character to the Fonseca Vintage Port blend.  Cruzeiro provides the dense core of black fruit and tannin. This is enveloped in the rich succulent jammy flavours and velvety texture of the wines of Panascal and overlaid by the exotic heady scents of Santo António. The fusion of the wines of these three diverse properties explains the multi-layered and multi-dimensional quality of Fonseca Vintage Ports and their ability to continue releasing surges of opulent complex aroma over decades of ageing in bottle.

Fonseca's estates have also witnessed pioneering developments in organic and sustainable viticulture in the Douro Valley. Quinta do Panascal was one of the first properties in the valley to contain areas of vineyard with organic certification.  Quinta de Santo António has been completely converted to the prize-winning sustainable vineyard model developed by the firm's viticulture team and is certified for organic production of both grapes and olive oil.

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Inside information

LOWER YIELDS HAVE OFTEN BEEN A PORTENT OF A FINE HARVEST

As summer holidays draw to an end it is time to think about more imPORTant things like the harvest of 2011.

Our head viticulturalist, Antonio Magalhães, and our head winemaker, David Guimaraens have already spent a week visiting our farms and those of our suppliers to assess when picking should start. This has been a challenging year since the wet month of April that provoked widespread attacks of mildew. Once the mildew had passed by late May, the Douro has been in heat wave; the plant leaves looked autumnal already when I visited over the weekend. The combined effect of these factors, added to the fact that the berries are small this year, means that we are looking at a harvest which will be both early and small.

The rain yesterday evening in the Douro valley will help the grape ripening process on Fonseca's properties. This is very welcome and will help complete the ripening process. Vigilance will be required but the weather forecast looks good.

We expect to open our modern winery at Quinta de Nogueira on 29th August. Nogueira will handle the grapes coming from our grape supplier partners close to the Spanish border.

We expect to start picking our own grapes at Quinta de Cruzeiro at Vale de Mendiz on either the 16th or 19th of September.

Although this has been a dry year the small berry size means that we will have plenty of skins and ensure good colour and flavour. Lower yields have often been a portent of a fine harvest. We are at that delicate moment however when just enough rain really helps the process but too much is, well, too much.

Our fingers are crossed and our thoughts optimistic.

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8 different wines with 30 vintages

Highlights

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Bartholomew Broadbent / Wine Writer, Wine Importer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Fonseca . In a tasting of  13 wines 

Fonseca 1927 Vintage Port / Decanted just before serving. Delicate bronze red, soft color, very light, very faded but more red than the Krohn 1982 Colheita. The nose was very mature, Demerara, soft yet intense. Peppery. Almost a tawny Port spirit. Aromas of old pews and leather bibles in an old English church. The nose evolved throughout the evening, filling the glass, it became huge and totally amazing. The palate was initially hot and spicy. Very spicy. Slightly drying. Morel like brandy than Port but very gentle. It was like an old lady with a lot of pizzazz. As it evolved in the glass it became pure syrup in texture with maple flavors. It became delicious. Initially, it was not my best wine of the evening but as it evolved it became the wine of the night. *****

4m 15d ago

 Bob Thompson / Wine Writer, Pro (South Africa)  tasted  2 wines  from  Fonseca . In a tasting of  36 wines 

“Niepoort Vintage Port 1997 - 98 points / The best of the 1997 vintage - Opaque, purple colour with very pronounced and intense nose of medicinal tones, anise, violets, licorice, dark fruits, blackberries and spices. Full-bodied, moderate acidity and big stalky tannins are dominating this youngster. There is a very intense ripe dark fruitiness and violet-like flavours combinied with spicy aromas. An immensly long and warming finish with great balance. Superb wine with great future.”

1y 1m ago

 Guo Ying / Sommelier, Pro (China)  tasted  1 wines  from  Fonseca . In a tasting of  14 wines 

“Port Vintage 1975 tasting / A widely declared vintage, attractive, elegant wines, though not likely to be as long lived as the 70s or 77s. Remarkable as the first vintage to be bottled strictly in Portugal by regulation – the end of centuries of shipping in cask for bottling at destination by distributors.

Viticultural and Weather Conditions
The summer of 1975 was long, hot and dry. By late August development was looking pretty backward due to the lack of rain. It rained heavily in early September and prospects for quality appeared excellent. It became quite hot again, with just a little more rain at the end of the month, which cleared away on the 30th, and then continued hot and dry for the remainder of the vintage. Harvest began 29th September in Rio Torto and 6th October elsewhere. Graduations were lower than expected however musts showed very well.

1y 4m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Fonseca . In a tasting of  30 wines 

“A true masterpiece by Gérard Chave - Hermitage 1990. Chave is known for opting for blending Syrah from their 15 ha vineyards on the Hermitage hill. Their philosophy is against single vineyard wines since blending guarantees more complexity in the wine. In this superb wine this is clearly indicated by the tremendous complexity. Syrah from Bessards is giving rich fruit intensity and concentration to the wine while Méal more depth in flavours and bouquet. Rocoules adds finesse in structure and length along the floral tones. L’Hermite contributes peppery earthy tones and colour. Péléat gives wildness and firmness in structure whereas Diognières provides colour and the savoury tastiness. Gérard Chave himself has compared this top vintage to 1952 and 1961.
Fine looking bottle. Decanted for two hours. This beautiful Hermitage has a deep, dark and seductive colour. On the nose amazing aromas of blackberry, vanilla, herbs and refreshing minerals. The palate was remarkably rich and long and less tannic than expected. The finish was super-long and pure with pleasant sweetness and rich, earthy flavours. This is the essence of Syrah with a long life span ahead.

1y 7m ago

 Jan-Erik Paulson, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Fonseca . In a tasting of  15 wines 

“Jayer Echezeaux 1978 / Decanted for 1hour. Opaque and dark ruby-red colour. Powerful yet discreet bouquet of ripe fruit and mineral scents. Wonderfully rich, thick, earthy and concentrated wine with layer upon layer of ripe, exotic fruit. The Jayer Echezeaux is well-balanced, pure and perhaps slightly more dryer than the 1985. It has an excellent grip and a long, thrilling, fairly tannic finish. 95 points ”

1y 10m ago

 Jason Lee / Sommelier, Pro (China)  tasted  1 wines  from  Fonseca . In a tasting of  18 wines 

“Interesting tasting - we had around 20 wines from WS TOP 100 /2014 and the result were quite different than in the WS ranking -best for us was Fonseca Vintage Port 2011 : Deep, youthful , purple and bright colour. Youthful, refined, opulent and seductive on the nose. The taste is fragrant, focused, well-structured, good texture, concentrated and promising. Long, extensive, pure, a bit spicy and vibrant aftertaste. Well made and already impressive. Decanted over 4h and at best between 2030 and 2050. Costs about 100-200€ per bottle. 95 points”

1y 11m ago

 Thomas Alsgaard, Pro (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Fonseca . In a tasting of  9 wines 

“Graham's 1977 is a superlative, powerful big-hearted Port with rich, complex fruit. Beautifully harmonious and well balanced, this excellent Vintage will make very good drinking between 2000 and 2005, although it has the potential to continue developing in bottle for many years more.
Peter Symington”

2y 5d ago

 Richard Juhlin / The number One champagne expert in the world, Pro (Sweden)  tasted  1 wines  from  Fonseca . In a tasting of  21 wines 

“The celebration continues -Day 3 of the huge 1961 vintage tasting.”

2y 4m ago

 Philip Tuck / Master of Wine, MW (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Fonseca . In a tasting of  14 wines 

“My first tasting notes in tastingbook.”

4y 8m ago

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