Quinta do Noval Nacional 2003 / Deep ruby. Knockout nose offers wonderful lift and verve, with distinctly vinous aromas of cassis, medicinal black cherry, licorice, pepper, violet, bitter chocolate and fresh herbs (Vosne-Romanee?). Wonderfully suave and understated on entry, then gripping and precise in the middle palate, and not at all overly sweet. Strong acids and a floral note of lavender contribute to the impression of lift in the mouth. As much great wine as it is great port, with a structure of steel. This showed even greater precision and spine with extended aeration. It will be interesting to taste this and the Fonseca side by side in 20 years, but of course these are two markedly different styles. 96+”
16d 16h ago
Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2016 / This has always been one of my favourite Houses. It was the first producer I visited in the Douro, back in the days when the van Zellers still ruled. Older examples of their VPs (though curiously, not always older examples of their Nacional) have always look good to me, and the legendary 1931 more than lived up to its fame, a few years ago, and remains the greatest port I've seen (110/100?). My ‘research’ leading up to tasting all these 16s suggested that I could expect the Noval to sit with the very best. I never doubted it would be anything other. I had seen one review which was positive but hardly a rave, though it was certainly nothing to set off the alarm bells.
That is why this came as a bit of a surprise. My ultimate score was 95, which by any standards is more than decent, but given its reputation and the vintage, I expected better. No question, very good, but it did not have the excitement level that transcends the very best of the vintage. The colour appeared slightly redder than most of the opaque samples I saw. There were lovely fragrances of florals and red fruits, leather and spices. It was certainly more elegant than many, and nothing wrong with that, and it will surely age well for a long time. It just did not flick the switch in the way others did. All that said, it was still a really good young VP. 95.
Sadly, the Noval people chose not to show their Nacional 2016, but when there are a total of just 170 cases for the entire world, that is understandable.”
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