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Parker 100 points / The 2011 Quinta do Noval Nacional has an entrancing bouquet that unfolds with time. It is extraordinarily concentrated with black currant pastilles, baked earth, a touch of terracotta and bay leaf that gains more dimension with time. Yet there is undeniable purity and elegance here, a seductive chorus of aromas perfectly in tune. The palate has a wondrous symmetry and focus, perfect acidity and immense purity. Everything here is so precise and at the same time, unassuming, as if this Nacional is aware of its breeding without the impulse to brag about it. It has closed down just a little since last year, but I take this as a positive sign that this legendary Nacional will delight for decades rather than years. This is the kind of elixir that leaves you speechless – surely the finest Nacional since the ethereal 1963. Drink 2020-2060. Tasted January 2014.
This is an amazing young Port: deep and powerful, subtle and refined. Full body, lightly sweet with big chewy tannins that are polished and sexy. Amazingly well-crafted. Lasts for minutes on the finish. Fantastic. The legend lives. Could be better than the perfect 1994 and equal to the 1963. 220 cases produced of this foot-trodden wine from ungrafted vines. Try in 2024.
|James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, May 2013
QUINTA DO NOVAL NACIONAL
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 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
THE 2011 VINTAGE: AN EXCEPTIONAL DOUBLE DECLARATION
This is a significant event in Quinta do Noval history: this year, Quinta do Noval declared not only its Vintage 2011 but also its Vintage Nacional 2011, one of the world’s rarest and most sought-after wines.
Quinta do Noval has always adopted an independent approach to the subject and will only declare wines of unsurpassed excellence. Its declaration of the renowned Vintage 1931, when most of the other Port houses did not take the risk, has gone down in history.
Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional, from ungrafted Portuguese vines “rooted in the soil of the nation”, was last declared almost 10 years ago in 2003. A unique phenomenon, it does not necessarily follow the same rhythm as other Quinta do Noval wines. Years such as 2011, when both the legendary Nacional plot and the rest of the vineyard produced Vintage Ports of outstanding excellence, are rare.
Although there is no such thing as an easy year in the Douro Valley, 2011 was a particularly challenging year in the vineyard. After a wet winter the weather was highly erratic from spring to autumn, with several extreme heat waves. Rain towards the end of August having provided the necessary moisture for maturation to resume its course, Noval gambled on postponing the harvest for a week for the grapes to reap the full benefit of this unhoped for precipitation and reach full maturity.
With continued brilliant sunshine, this late harvest turned out to be an excellent decision. Once crushed in the lagares, the grapes revealed a wonderful deep colour, remarkable aromas and ideal sugar content and acidity: the sign of a year with immense potential.
Quinta do Noval Vintage 2011 has proved to be very alluring: with its wonderful balance of depth and smoothness, complex aromas and fresh floral notes, it is the ultimate expression of the Quinta do Noval soul. As for Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional 2011, its powerful, fine tannins combine with very intense, concentrated notes of fruit to give a true explosion of aromas in the mouth. Fresh and well-balanced, it shows extraordinary cellaring potential and promises to make 2011 a benchmark Vintage for Port lovers.
2011 Vintage Port Declaration: All of the major port houses have now declared the 2011 vintage as being of exceptional quality. For many shippers this is the first declaration since 2007. The avalanche of declarations started with Sogrape, owners of Sandeman and Ferriera. This has been followed by Symington, the company that owns Dows, Graham Warre and Cockburn and Taylor Fladgate owners of the Fonseca and Taylors brands