Nacional 2001: Best Fortified Wine of the Year
In his “best of 2016” round-up, The Wine Advocate’s Mark Squires selected Quinta do Noval Nacional 2001 as the “Best Fortified Wine of the Year.” See his tasting note below!
“The 2001 Vintage Port Nacional is a typical blend, mostly Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cão, Sousão and Tinta Roriz. Aged for 20 months in old barrels in Douro, it comes in with 19.3% alcohol and 76.8 grams per liter of residual sugar. This is a late release, declared in 2003 but just now about to hit the market. Christian Seely said: “[T]he 2001 was extremely backward and quite closed up, dense and very tannic. Since we had just declared and released the 2000 Nacional, we decided to lay down the 250 cases of Nacional 2001 …” The late release has certainly tamed this. It still feels very firm and has a real backbone, but it is not overly drying and it is a lot more approachable than newly-released Nacionals can be. By day three, though, it was showing a bit more pure power and complexity–and it seemed far better.
Its best feature is easily its crisp and fresh feel. The fruit is wonderfully lifted. If you’re looking for rich, sexy and lush–this won’t be that. It won’t hit you over the head. However, you’ll never become bored with this perfectly balanced, understated and very refined Porto. You can sit with this all night long. The long finish, on first taste, was laced with a hint of eucalyptus, but over the hours and days to come, it leaned more to baked plum, herbs and chocolate mint. It also filled the mouth and seemed rather weighty, relative to this elegant vintage in Douro. Its graceful demeanor, structure and complexity had this singing increasingly harmonious songs after several days.
This will improve notably in the cellar. If you must, you can approach it now with some decanting. (It has already thrown a heavy sediment, too, so decanting is not optional.) The fruit has opened to the point where it is often expressive, but that will only improve. For someone (like me) who typically prefers Vintage Ports at around 30 to 35 years old, this is only drinking reasonably well. It is not all that close to peak. If you appreciate real complexity, keep it in the cellar for another ten years, at the least. I am not convinced that this is a truly great Nacional, but that is a very high bar. It is still pretty close to brilliant.”
We have just declared a Quinta do Noval Vintage Port from 2013. We have done this kind of thing before, an “eccentric declaration” but actually I think it is the first time we have ever declared three Vintages in a row under the Quinta do Noval name. But I had no doubt in the tasting room that it was the right thing to do.
With António Agrellos in January this year tasting the 2013 Vintage
2013 could have been a much better year generally than it was: everything was looking great as the harvest began, and then it started to rain, which generally meant that we just missed making great wines from most of the vineyard, as once the rains starts, you are under such pressure from potential rot, that you just have to haul it all in as fast as possible, which means that in many cases you are not picking at optimal ripeness, which would have been later for many parcels, there can be an effect of dilution from the rain etc.. Having said all that, the overall quality was very good, just not as outstanding as it might have been.
With the exception of a few lots of wine we made in the first ten days of the harvest before the rains started.
Not all of these were actually of Vintage potential, but some of them most definitely were at Quinta do Noval. The wine we blended from the best of them shows what the 2013 Vintage might have been generally had the rain not come. The quantity of wine of the right quality was tiny – only 1,200 cases, or less than 3% of our production, but it is an authentic Quinta do Noval Vintage Port, a rare wine, being one of a small number of limited production quality wines from the 2013 harvest in the Douro, and I am very happy to be able to declare it. I am very confident it will be able to hold its head high in a vertical tasting in a few years’ time along with the other Quinta do Noval declarations from the past 20 years or so.
2014 Harvest in our properties: Conclusion
DECEMBER 5, 2014 CHRISTIAN SEELY
The report of Cédric at Mas Belles Eaux finishes our harvest reports of 2014: we have now heard from each property.
In Bordeaux some marvelous results for the reds, classic fresh and balanced, in the style of the 2008s and the 2010s, and closer to the 10s than to the 08s. At Suduiraut, some great wines in the style of the 2001s and the 2011s, even if the quantity of Sauternes is very small.
In Burgundy also an excellent quality, and yields a little more correct than in the past few years.
In Tokaj, a difficult year, with very reduced yields, but a small production of very good Aszú wines.
In the Languedoc, the deluge just before the harvest complicated matters considerably, and reduced yields, but a very strict selection enabled us to make some good wines, particularly Grenache (red and white) and Syrah.
Finally, at Quinta do Noval, even if we just missed a very great Vintage on account of a week of rain during the harvest, some exceptional grapes were harvested before the rain, and even afterwards there are some very good wines, both Port wines and unfortified.
Globally, a favourable verdict on the 2014 vintage.