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News

QUINTA DO NOVAL DECLARES 2022 VINTAGE PORT

Christian Seely, Managing Director of Quinta do Noval, comments:

“I am very happy to be able to announce the declaration of three outstanding Vintage Ports from Quinta do Noval from the 2022 vintage: Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port 2022; Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2022; and Quinta do Passadouro Vintage Port 2022.

2022 was a year of extremes, both very hot and very dry. Rainfall was only 364 mm during the growing season, 276 mm below the 1970-2000 average. We experienced recurrent heatwaves, in early July and in early August, with prolonged periods of temperatures over 40°C, with a peak of 45,5°C in mid-July. Such extremes are not entirely unprecedented: similar conditions were experienced in the great vintages of 2017 and 1945. As in these years, the 2022 demonstrated the remarkable resilience of our terroir and of our Douro varieties. The vines remained extremely healthy throughout the year, with very little disease pressure. Remarkably, the vines remained surprisingly green and free from water stress.

We knew from the start that the Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port 2022 was exceptional, and the wine has continued to develop wonderfully since the harvest, displaying the multi-layered complexity and depth that are typical of a great Nacional. Powerful and pure, it combines opulent richness, intensity and concentration with astonishing freshness.

The Quinta do Noval Vintage Port is, as always, a very strict selection of the very best wines of the year. The 2,600 cases produced represent just 6,6% of the total production of Port from Noval’s 155 hectares of vineyard. Particularly successful were the Touriga Nacionals and the field blend parcels, with also some excellent Touriga Francesa and Sousão.

The 2022 is marked by great concentration and purity, profound, spicy and aromatic, a very typical expression of Noval’s terroir in an outstanding year for the property.

Quinta do Passadouro Vintage Port 2022 is the result of a rigorous selection. The blend is made from three small parcels in the Pinhão Valley and the resulting wine is strongly marked by Passadouro’s distinctive style, pure floral and aromatic, but with the richness of the 2022 vintage.”

 

 

QUINTA DO NOVAL DECLARES 2021 VINTAGE PORT

Christian Seely, Managing Director of Quinta do Noval, comments:

I am very happy to be able to announce the declaration of three exceptional Vintage Ports from the 2021 vintage: Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port 2021, Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2021, and Quinta do Passadouro Vintage Port 2021.

Weather conditions in 2021 were in stark contrast to those of the preceding year. A wet winter and regular rainfall in the month of April fully replenished much needed water levels in the soil. An early flowering in May was followed by a very hot month of June, with some stormy periods and hail, which fortunately did not affect our vineyards.

July and August were mild and sunny, with none of the extreme heat or water stress that we have seen in some recent years during these months. This permitted slow homogenous ripening of the grapes, in excellent conditions. We began to harvest the red grapes on 26th August. After some rainfall in early September, we suspended the harvest for three days and then resumed in sunny weather with mild temperatures that permitted steady positive phenolic development right through to the end of the harvest on 8th October. There were no spikes in sugar readings, which enabled us to wait for optimum ripeness in each plot.

The results were excellent for several parcels of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa and Sousão. The Nacional and various other old vine parcels were exceptional.

The wines have a marked stylistic individuality, reflecting the particular conditions of the vintage, very elegant and balanced, with great finesse and very pure floral and black fruit aromas. Strongly aromatic, with dense firm fine tannins, the purity of the fruit and the elegance and balance are among the most striking characteristics of this lovely vintage year. 

 

New labels for Quinta do Noval dry wines

To mark the release of the latest vintage, Quinta do Noval presents its new range of dry wines produced on the estate. This completely redesigned packaging follows the development and restructuring over recent years of the vineyard producing these wines. 

The labels and names of the wines have been modified and standardised in order to present the great diversity of grape varieties more clearly. There are now six wines available, of which three are blended wines and three single varietal wines: 

- Cedro do Noval white, Douro DOC: Named after the emblematic cedar tree that dominates the terrace at Quinta do Noval, this white Douro wine is made from traditional white grape varieties of the Douro Valley. The minerality of the schist vineyard is apparent in this cuvée with great depth and a distinctive personality. 

- Cedro do Noval red, Vinho Regional Duriense: This wine is an authentic expression of the Douro. Principally made up of Portuguese grape varieties, it also contains Syrah which rounds out the fruit and gives the wine tremendous charm and accessibility. 

- Quinta do Noval Touriga Nacional, Douro DOC (100% Touriga Nacional): Intense and concentrated, with fine tannic structure, this wine stands out for its delicacy, which is characteristic of the Quinta do Noval style. It is the product of a strict selection from the best lots produced by our Quinta in any given year. 

- Quinta do Noval Syrah, Vinho Regional Duriense (100% Syrah): Quinta do Noval proves with this cuvée that Syrah has been able to adapt perfectly to its environment. It expresses a personality here that is strongly marked by the Douro Valley rather than that of varietal Syrah, and offers beautiful balance, a fine texture and exceptional elegance. 

- Quinta do Noval Petit Verdot, Vinho Regional Duriense (100% Petit Verdot): Petit Verdot is a great variety of strong individual personality and enormous quality potential that needs sunshine and heat to ripen fully. It has adapted extremely well to the Douro, producing powerful wines with character and a balanced tannic structure that will allow them to age for years to come

- Quinta do Noval Reserva, Douro DOC: Very powerful and structured, it is outstanding for its finesse, a delicate character typical of the Quinta do Noval style. It is derived from a strict selection of the best batches of the Quinta’s various indigenous grape varieties. This wine is delicious when young and ages well in the cellar

 

 

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.

Christian Seely and António Agrellos in the tasting room

                        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.

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History

One of the oldest port houses, Quinta do Noval is also arguably the greatest. It is unique among top port houses in that most of the ports are made from estate-grown fruit and, notably, all of the vintage Noval wines are from the single Quinta do Noval vineyard. In addition, it is difficult to elaborate on Quinta do Noval without mentioning Nacional, the legendary port made from a 6 acre parcel of ungrafted vines. When declared, only 200-300 cases of Nacional will be made, and instantly become the most sought after port in the world. Many vintages of Nacional are considered as the finest ports, and some of the finest wines, ever made.

 

Noval is mentioned in land registries going back to 1715, and has been sold just twice in that time, once in the late 19th century, and to its present owners in 1993. Noval has, however, a reputation for being an innovative, independent producer. Noval’s focus on its vineyard and estate ports distinguishes it, but there are numerous other areas in which it has been a pioneer:

 

Quinta do Noval made its name with the declaration of the 1931 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port, and the 1931 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port, probably the most sensational Vintage Ports of the 20th century. 

Because of the global depression and the enormous production and shipment of the 1927 Vintage, most shippers did not declare the 1931. This success established Quinta do Noval among the great names of Vintage Port in the English and American markets, a leading position in terms of reputation which is maintained today.

 

Belonging to AXA Millésimes since 1993, Quinta do Noval is part of the prestigious viticultural patrimony made up of great names such as Disznókő in Tokaj, Hungary, and in France Château Pichon-Longueville in Pauillac, Château Suduiraut in Sauternes, Château Petit-Village in Pomerol, Domaine de l'Arlot in Burgundy and Mas Belles Eaux in the Languedoc region.

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Vineyards

Our Vintage Port comes from our vineyard. Our greatest wine, the Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional Port, from a small parcel at the heart of that vineyard. All our activity is based at our Quinta, in the Douro Valley. Quinta do Noval is the only historic Port wine shipper to bear the name of its Quinta. The identity of Quinta do Noval is rooted in its terroir.

 

Since 1994, Quinta do Noval has replanted 100 hectares of the property with the noble grape varieties of the Douro, adapting plantation and pruning methods according to the needs of each parcel. 
Each plot has been planted with individual grape varieties suited to the terroir according to three principal criteria: altitude, exposition, and the type of planting required. 
Today the field blends, parcels with several mixed varieties, are progressively disappearing from the Douro Valley. 
Noval was a pioneer of this trend, and the first vineyard to replant and mechanise the old terraces on a large scale while retaining the magnificent stone walled terraces.

 

The domaine of 145 hectares which dominates the Pinhão Valley constitutes the heart and soul of Quinta do Noval. The soil is essentially made up of schistous rock, which makes all work in the vineyard particularly difficult.
Since 1994, Quinta do Noval has replanted 100 hectares of the domaine with the noblest grape varieties of the Douro, adapting pruning methods to suit each parcel. The parcels have been replanted in single grape variety plots, the varieties chosen to suit each individual parcel of land, according to three principal factors: the altitude, the exposition, and the type of planting of the vine.

 

Today 'field blends', parcels of several mixed grape varieties, are progressively disappearing from the Douro Valley. Noval was a pioneer in this trend, and the first to replant in this way at the same time conserving the magnificent old terraces with their walls of schistous stone. Because the varieties are planted in single varietal blocks, it is possible to pick the optimum moment for harvesting each parcel.

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Winemaking

What a commotion ... when September comes, the Douro Valley starts to bubble over and Quinta, normally so quiet, becomes unrecognisable: it’s harvest time at Quinta do Noval. For several weeks, Quinta buzzes with activity, as everyone tries to guess what sort of character of the newborn vintage will have.



Choosing the date when the picking starts is always a decision of crucial importance: for it is this choice which to a great extent dictates the potential of the vintage. It is generally during the second fortnight in August that they start to check the ripeness of the grapes. The final decision rests on two factors: the weather forecast, and the grapes’ degree of ripeness in each area of the vineyard. This is measured not only by looking at the grapes, but also by tasting them on the spot.



At Quinta do Noval, the grapes are picked exclusively by hand. The Rogas, grape pickers from the neighbouring mountains, pick them with the utmost care and then gather them in baskets which each hold 17 kilos. After a meticulous sorting process, the grapes are then transported by tractor to the Quinta cellar. It is there that they will be crushed, the first stage on their journey to the bottle …

 

After vinification comes the ageing stage. The wine, which is now in barrels or wooden vats, is pumped up so that the grape spirit added during the drawing-off phase will mix perfectly into the must. All the necessary analyses and adjustments are made over the next few weeks, so that the Port may then at last be left to rest on its lees ...

 

The first racking generally takes place four months later. At this stage the wine is tasted with particular attention, and some of the blending begins: the wines from the Ruby and Tawny categories are the first to be selected and blended. The most spectacular wines, meanwhile, will be left a little longer to refine their aromas separately, and it is only later, depending on how their qualities evolve, that they will be guided towards the Vintage or other prestige categories. 

 

Racking, which involves moving the wine from one container to another, plays an extremely important role in achieving the final quality. At Quinta do Noval, four rackings are carried out the first year, three the second year, and two the third year. Further racking then takes place whenever necessary, and sometimes younger wines are added at the same time as the racking in order to preserve all the freshness. What is the point of racking? It makes it easier to fill the various vats, prevents the wine from acquiring a bad taste, and more generally helps it evolve in the right direction. The Port is therefore prepared under the best possible conditions for the next stage: blending.

 

Noval Nacional is a wine that confirms something that is for me a deeply held belief. A wine is great because of the quality of the grapes, the character of the year and because of the place they come from. These things are far more important than anything we may do either in the vineyard or in the winery.We vinify the Nacional in the same way as the other grapes from the rest of the Quinta do Noval vineyard: foot treading in stone lagares, a simple if laborious procedure, and the result is always something very different for the Nacional wine compared with the wine from the rest of the Quinta. The Vintage Nacional is what it is because of the grapes and where they come from, not because of anything particular that we may do in the winery.

 

Always different, and with a distinctive personality, it does not necessarily follow the same rhythm as the rest of the vineyard. In 1996 for example, which was not a declared Vintage year for the rest of the Quinta do Noval vineyard, the Vintage Nacional was outstanding, and we decided to declare it.
There are also years when we declare great Quinta do Noval Vintage Ports, when the Nacional just does not sing, so we do not declare it. 2007 was an example of this.

Noval Nacional Vintages: 2011,2003, 2000, 1997, 1996, 1994, 1991, 1987, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982, 1980, 

1978, 1975, 1970, 1967, 1966, 1964, 1963, 1962, 1960, 1958, 1955, 1950, 1945, 
1934, 1931

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Inside information

– Quinta do Noval was the first to introduce blended tawnies with an indication of average age.

– Noval introduced the first late-bottled vintage port, in 1958.-

– In response to a change in shipping laws in 1986, Noval became the first major port house to age, blend and store all its wines at its Quinta, in the Douro.

In 1994 Noval once again made a bold statement, by beginning a massive program of improvements, while re-committing to the traditional, and best, methods of port production. Namely:

– 60% of the estate’s vineyards were taken out, and the terraces were rebuilt and replanted with the best quality grape varieties.

– A new winery, warehouse and bottling facility were built, and the lodge (warehouse) at the Quinta was greatly improved.

– All grapes harvested at the estate are crushed by foot, in lagares that have been made smaller and modified to better control individual lots.

The astonishing terraced vineyards of Noval, perched above the Douro and Pinhao rivers, are an infertile schist, and not soil as much as sheer rock. The elevation of the vineyards goes from just above river level to 1,200 feet, with density at about 2,000 vines per acre, and vines producing on average 30-35 hectoliters per hectare. The tremendous rewards of the work done at the estate over the last fifteen years are visible across the range of Noval ports, and have placed Noval a step ahead of everyone in the Douro.

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8 different wines with 93 vintages

Winemaking since 1715

  • Christian Seely

    Manager
    The name Quinta do Noval evokes for me above all a place. A magical place, an historic place. A piece of the earth capable of producing wines that are among the world’s greatest. The wines of Quinta do Noval express the greatness of this terroir.
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