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There are few acts as crucial in the life of a Port House as the decision to declare a Vintage: on average, producers declare just three Vintages over 10 years. At Quinta do Noval, we take this decision only when we are overwhelmingly convinced that we have produced an exceptionally high-quality wine: we are aware of the fact that every declared Vintage leaves an indelible mark on our Quinta’s history, and that every declaration puts our reputation at stake.

Our decision to declare the 2012 Vintage is a genuine event, particularly as we are one of only very few Quintas to have taken this step. The context is unusual, since this Vintage follows the declaration of the 2011 Vintage, a year which was so exceptional that it gave rise to a general declaration. Even in these circumstances, a general declaration is decided by consensus, representing the body of decisions by all individual producers, each of whom can refuse to declare individually.


Conversely, a producer can choose to declare a Vintage on their own, if they consider that their wines are worthy of the honour. At Quinta do Noval, the wine itself makes the decision: if we consider that the year has produced a great wine, if the quality is there, then we declare – regardless of whether or not there are significant quantities available, and regardless of whether or not there is market demand. It is an almost eccentric compulsion driven by our conviction that we must do the right thing. This is how we have always operated, and we will continue to do so: we consider that it is our duty to pay tribute to the magic of the wines from this unique vineyard.

Each Vintage has a distinct personality, which is so much the better:very clear-cut differences in character are discernible from one year to another. However, the underlying attribute which we find in all Quinta do Noval wines, which makes them different from any other Port wine (and is instantly recognisable) is the soul and personality of the place where they are made. There is something floral and delicate about these wines; their aromas give a taste of the Douro Valley's wild beauty.


The 1955 and 1966 Vintages are two perfect examples of this character: their fragrant, floral and extremely subtle nose makes these two very great years the archetype of the Quinta do Noval style. This is the style (or at least the first signs of it) that we try to identify in young batches. Not only their aromatic character, but also the subtlety of their tannins, gives Quinta do Noval Vintages their unique identity. When the wine is young, these characteristics are infinitely hard to detect: you have to anticipate the way the wine will develop, use your intuition and have the courage to believe in your decision.

The 2012 Vintage follows on the heels of the amazing 2011 Vintage, one of the greatest Vintages ever produced in the Douro Valley. 2012 might not be in quite the same league, but it’s a wine in which the notes of fruit are very open, subtle and elegant, making it irresistibly charming.  Some batches of wine produced in 2012 were so fine that we had to declare the Vintage, even though it came just after the very great 2011 Vintage. Selection was very strict and the quantity produced (only 1,000 cases of wine) is made up of these very fine batches. We are delighted to present this wine, which is unquestionably typical of Quinta do Noval and which stands side by side with other great Vintages of the past, but as always with its own unique personality conferred by the year.

Resulting from abundant and crucial spring rains followed by a very dry summer, which produced absolutely magnificent red wines, the 2012 Vintage is ideal for immediate enjoyment: it is absolutely delicious, with a typically floral character.  Tasting it evokes this place which is so dear to all of us: at Quinta do Noval, we are convinced that the Douro Valley is one of the world’s greatest wine-growing terroirs. It’s a wild and fascinating place, and Quinta do Noval is without any doubt one of the Douro’s greatest treasures: a free and untameable place, whose rugged beauty is reflected in every one of our wines.




The Story


No other vintage port attracts more attention than Quinta do Noval’s Nacional and its collectability can be partly attributed to its tiny production. Only 200 - 300 cases are produced in a declared year. This represents a tiny percentage of Quinta do Noval’s production of vintage port (between 1,200 and 5,000 cases in each declared year). Nacional’s two and a half hectares of ungrafted vines are almost indistinguishable amongst the estate’s spectacular amphitheatre of immaculate, terraced vineyards, set high above the Pinhão Valley in the Cima Corgo region of the Douro.

“This wine is a mysterious phenomenon, a magical wine produced in extremely limited quantities and only in a few years each decade. It is the expression of a terroir and confirms something that is for me a deeply held belief. The Nacional is great because of the grapes and where they come from, not because of anything particular that we do. It has a unique personality, an extraordinary intensity and, even after many years of ageing, retains an astonishing youthfulness.” Christian Seely

The precise origin of Nacional remains unknown as most of the quinta’s records were destroyed in 1981 when a catastrophic fire swept through Noval’s headquarters in Vila Nova de Gaia. Most of Noval’s vineyards were severely damaged by phylloxera when it ravaged
the Douro region during the 1880’s and 1890’s.

Along with every other grower, António José da Silva (who bought the estate in 1894) began to replant his vineyards with American vines, grafting on vinifera types. It seems that da Silva selected a tiny parcel of the quinta’s vineyards and began extensive fumigation of the soil with a sulphur solution. The first Nacional vines were planted in 1925. The legendary quality of 1931 Nacional is even more
remarkable if one takes into account that many of the vines were between four and seven years old.

The vineyard
The estate of Quinta do Noval includes about 6,000 Nacional vines, with an average age of 30 years. Rows of Nacional alternate with rows of grafted vines in a section of the estatejust below the house, with an exceptional south west exposure. The vines are planted at a density of c. 2,000 vines per acre in traditional terraces with each vine having a space of approximately 3 x 4.5 feet. Like the rest of the estate, the soil of the Nacional plot is essentially infertile schist. It is high in potash with tiny amounts of nitrates, phosphates and organic matter. Although phylloxera is endemic, Nacional vines live just as long as grafted ones: 50 years or more. Their very existence remains a viticultural mystery and triumph. Most Nacional vines are widely acknowledged as some of the best grape varieties for Port:
Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa and Tinto Cão, as well as Sousão.

What are the declared vintage years for Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional ?

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


Wine Information


The wettest winter followed by the hottest summer. This off-the-charts weather pattern resulted in high levels of sugar and acidity. In other words, the ideal combination for perfect balance. As a result, our Vintage stands out for its structure, deep colour and complexity of aromas.

“Powerful elegant plenitude. Ripe complete and fine. Many layered fruit. Deep complex and long. Real expression of Nacional terroir. Just beginning to open up, but probably has a century of development before it.”
António Agrellos, Technical Director –May 2013

The terroir: a small area at the heart of the Quinta do Noval vineyard planted with ungrafted vines and untouched by phylloxera, described as “attached to the soil of the Nation”.



Average Bottle Price

2015 2013 2011 2010
767€ +25.3% 612€ +17.0% 523€ +2.8% 509€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Latest Pro-tasting notes

12 tasting notes

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Written Notes

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.

  • 96p

Blackish crimson. Lifted and muscular. Really glossy and exciting. This doesn’t have the dry finish of the regular 2003. So wild and thrilling! Very firm liquorice. Massive presence in the mouth. Great peacock's tail finish.

  • 100p

Ruby. Intense, minerals, detailed, dark fruity, minty, intense, deep, nuanced, incredible depth. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, anise, dark fruity, spices, liquorice, detailed, minty, spices, liquorice, long. 97

  • 97p

Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão; Sousão. RS 93 g/l, pH 3.73. Aged 20 months in used 640-litre (or bigger) barrels. Bottled May 2005.
Very closed but with a subtle dark mineral note. Smoky, dry, firm, compact and yet still subtle. Slides effortlessly across the palate. Finishes like bitter chocolate but tannins seem finer even if more powerful than the Silval 2003 tannins. Serious horsepower just raring to go but wonderfully streamlined.  (JH)

  • 98p
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Porto, Douro

Vintage Quality


Value For Money

Very good

Investment potential

Below Average

Fake factory


Glass time


Inside Information

94/100 pts – eRobertParker.com

PR, 10/2005

96/100 pts –  Wine Spectator  

KM, 31/05/2011

19.5+ pts -  JancisRobinson.com

JH, 29/06/2009

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