May 28, 2014

The best of Porto

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I've been pretty busy at work lately, and consequently have chosen not to go to Vinexpo this year.  After all, it just doesn't seem right to skip out of the office for "meetings" in the middle of the day, only to either return flushed red and wobbly or worse, call back to the office and tell the staff that I wasn't going back.  I did it a few years ago at previous Vinexpos but this time around, it just felt wrong to do it.

So I was getting ready for a long night in the office to clear some backlog, when my trusted wine merchant friend pinged us and asked if anyone was free to join a Port tasting, and promised that it wouldn't be a waste of time.  Well, he's never led me down the wrong path before, so I locked up the office and jumped into a cab.

I snuck into the back of the function room just a few minutes after the Quinta do Noval Masterclass started.  I never understood the word "masterclass" but the term is pretty widely used nowadays.  Anyway, the room was full of wine merchants and sommeliers, and I wasn't exactly on the official invite list.  But there were plenty of empty seats in the room and all that wine was already poured into glasses, so all I was doing by crashing was not letting them to go waste.  And believe me, some of these wines are so rare you wouldn't want them to go to waste!

2000 Quinta do Noval Colheita - still really alcoholic, very sharp nose, with lots of red fruits, very grapey, still got the tannins.  Later this opened up more and showed nutty notes like hazelnuts, and prunes.

2011 Quinta do Noval - forest pine notes.  Obviously still tannic, the alcohol wasn't so sharp.  Very sweet on the palate but not so bad on the finish.

2004 Quinta do Noval - exotic nose, with acetone, and this was a little weird... maybe with some banana?  Not what I expected.  Can feel the tannins softening.

2000 Quinta do Noval - nose was very closed, just as Corinne said.  A little paint thinner, with maybe a teeny bit of leather and a hint of forest.

1994 Quinta do Noval - much more developed, with exotic nose that was sweet like sugarcane, Asian spices.  Really lovely, and wonderful on the palate.

We then moved on to the Nacionals - the rarest of Ports made from a small plot of ungrafted, pre-phylloxera vines.  Production is extremely tiny - about 200-250 cases per year, and these days the practice is to release it slowly over 10 years while keeping about 20% stock at the quinta.  It's an incredible privilege to be drinking any of these wines, and especially the older vintages.

2011 Quinta do Noval Nacional - lots of forest pine, much bigger and more intense than the vintage.  Definitely licorice and spices, with a hint of smokiness.  More tannic because the berries are smaller.  Good sweetness on both the nose and on the palate.

2004 Quinta do Noval Nacional - nose was a little closed, somewhat stinky, with a little animal and hospital disinfectant... I think Christian Seely was right in not releasing this wine earlier, because I'm one of those who don't really "get it", at least not right now.  Apparently this is being released in June, and this was only the third time that anyone outside has tasted the wine.

2000 Quinta do Noval Nacional - just like the 2000, I didn't get much out of the nose... only shoe polish, as the nose was pretty closed.

1994 Quinta do Noval Nacional - a lot more smoke, pencil lead, a little green.  Not showing as well as the vintage.

1963 Quinta do Noval Nacional - more alcoholic, with paint thinner, a hint of dustiness, but oh-so-beautiful on the palate!  Very nutty, soft and beautiful, with candied fruits and prunes.  What a privilege to have tasted this wine!

1937 Quinta do Noval Colheita - the oldest colheita from Noval, and these were bottled only 2 months ago from pipes.  With savory notes and very alcoholic on the nose.  This was simply stunning!  Soooo rich and unctuous on the palate.  Wow!

Unbelievable to have drunk 3 (or was it 4?) glasses of this tonight.

2009 Quinta do Noval Duoro - nose of potpourri, and still kinda tannic.

I'm so glad I came tonight instead of staying in the office.  What an incredible privilege it was!  Many thanks to the heads-up from my trusty wine merchant friend.

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