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Christian Seely, Managing Director of Quinta do Noval, comments Vintage 2017:
“I am very happy to be able to announce the declaration of the Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2017 and the Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port 2017. I consider these wines to be among the best that I have known during my time at Quinta do Noval. The decision to declare them was a very easy one. As is well known, at Quinta do Noval, we do not hesitate to make small declarations of our Vintage Ports even in years which are not being generally declared, provided that the quality is excellent. But the 2017 is clearly an exceptional year which I believe will be remembered as one of the historic Vintage Port declarations of Quinta do Noval. The Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017 is I am sure a very great wine, and one for which the entire Noval team is very proud to have been responsible. I am both proud and happy to have been here when this wine was made. The growing season was dry and hot, both during spring and summer, with historically low rainfall and prolonged hot spells during the summer, particularly in June. Volumes were relatively low, and ripeness came early. Our harvest began in August and was finished before the end of September. The wines are characterised by an exuberant ripeness, with remarkable aromatic intensity, profound fruit and strong velvety tannins. These are great, very seductive Vintage Ports, hugely enjoyable to taste now, but clearly with immense ageing potential. Perhaps among the best we will ever see.”
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 2017 VINTAGE
2017 was characterised by a cold, dry winter followed by an exceptionally hot and dry spring and summer. Apart from heavy rainfall (25 mm) on 6 July at Quinta do Noval, only 300 mm of rain fell since November 2016.
June was the hottest month since 1980, with temperatures reaching 42-44°C in the Douro Valley during a heat wave lasting from 7 to 24 June. Due to these extreme weather conditions, all phases of the vine’s growth were 15 to 20 days early compared to 2016. The vines weathered the shortage of water and the high temperatures well. At the end of August the harvest looked very promising, with excellent sanitary conditions. Harvest started much earlier than usual due to the weather: from 17 August for the white wines and 21 August for the reds and the Ports, lasting until 28 September, with high temperatures and a total absence of rain.
GRAPE VARIETIES: It is produced using several grape varieties and not just from Touriga Nacional, as it name might suggest. These varieties are some of the noblest to be found in the Douro valley: Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão, Touriga Nacional, Sousão and Tinta Roriz.
VINIFICATION: The wine is made in the same way as all the other grapes from the Quinta do Noval vineyard. Grapes are trodden by foot to obtain the must, then during fermentation macerate to obtain the best possible extraction in the lagares, the traditional stone vats from the Quinta.
MATURING: It was matured for 18 months in wooden barrels in the air-conditioned cellars of the Quinta, at the demarcated region of the Douro Valley before bottling.
Alcohol: 19.5 %
Residual sugar: 99 g/dm³
Total acidity: 4.68 g/dm³
SERVING TEMPERATURE: 15ºC-17ºC