The following tasting notes are compiled from For the Love of Port's 2006 Harvest Tour.

193 Wines Tasted

Olders Ports:

  • 1890 Ramos Pinto Colheita Port
  • 1937 Ramos Pinto Colheita Port
  • 1952 Dalva White Colheit Port (Tasted Twice)
  • 1962 Quinta do Noval Crusted Port
  • 1963 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port
  • 1964 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port
  • 1964 Quinta do Noval Colheita POrt
  • 1970 Dow Vintage Port
  • 1970 Fonseca Vintage Port
  • 1970 Niepoort Colheita Port
  • 1970 Quinta do Crasto Colheita Port
  • 1977 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port

Highest Scoring Wines from Roy:

  • 1963 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port (99)
  • 1970 Fonseca Vintage Port (97)
  • 1994 Quinta do Vesuvion Vintage Port (97)
  • 2000 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port (97)
  • 2003 Niepoort Vintage Port (97)
  • 2003 Croft Vintage Port (96)
  • 2003 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port (96)
  • 2003 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port (96)
  • 2003 Qunita do Vesuvio Vintage Port (96)
  • 2004 Quinta do Crasto vinha da Ponte Douro Red (96)
  • 2004 Warre's Quinta da Cavadinha Vintage Port (96)


Vasconcellos 10 year old Lagrima Branco White Port – Intriguing nose of orange Pekoe tea, Asian spices and peach. This is an off-dry version of Lagrima which can range all the way to extreme sweetness in the white Port range. Medium-bodied with good acidity but possessing a fairly hollow mid-palate and a hot, spirity finish. 83 points (10-1-06)

Vasconcellos Special Reserve Tawny Reserve Port (NV) – A rare blend of 70% 20 year old Tawny and 30% from 1994. Caramel color with a light golden edge. A very reticent nose that shows a light scent of maple syrup. Light bodied with a dose of alcohol which is obvious on the palate, this lacks much interest and is pretty monolithic. I was disappointed given the unique cuvee components. 82 points (10-1-06)

Vasconcellos Red Medium Dry Tawny Port (NV) – Essentially this is a 15 year old Tawny, even though there is no such category in the “ Tawny Port with an indication of age” range. Light orange color with a yellow rim. A light weight that shows a bit thin on the palate and offers little in the way of intrigue or expression. 78 points (10-1-06)


Kopke 10 year old Tawny Port – Orangeish-tan color. Fine nose of toasted almonds with butterscotch and honey. Smooth, unctuous and very tasty with more density and weight than the 20 year old. A bit simpler and less developed, which is to be expected of a 10 year old. I liked this Kopke for the textural pleasure and pure nutty flavor that led to a persistent aftertaste. 91 points (10-1-06)

Kopke 20 year old Tawny Port – Orange with a light ruby center and a golden meniscus. Inexplicably, this offers a lighter body weight in comparison to the Kopke 10 year old. It’s smooth but isn’t as sumptuous or concentrated. There’s also a touch of alcohol that did not show up in the10, which is not what I normally find with the Kopke 20 year old. Yet the 20 is no slouch, as the citrus peel, caramel and praline provide a profound aromatic profile, while the butterscotch and praline nuances deliver a delicious, complex finish with staying power. 92 points (10-1-06)


Morgadio da Calçada White Port – Actually a dry white Port by Niepoort. Amber color and very dry with a touch of apricot, licorice and prune juice. Yes this was certainly a unique profile that came in a light-bodied style, with a touch of heat on the medium length finish. 84 points (10-1-06)

Casal dos Jordoes White Port – The nose was the most enjoyable facet of this wine. Off-dry, interesting but light and fairly simple. 89 points (10-1-06)

Quinta do Casa Amarela 10 year old Tawny Port – I guess you could call this a small production Port as just 125 cases are produced each year by well known Port maker Susana Esteban known best for her work at Quinta do Crasto. This wine was very light in color with a salmon-pink hue showing a tawny edge. There was some VA that was quite obvious here but also a nice smooth praline quality that was quite tasty. The mid-palate was simple and the finish had a bit too much heat but otherwise this was a solid ten year old offering. 85 points (10-1-06) 

2002 Rol Roi Reserve Meio Seco Ruby Reserve Port – Bottled in 2005, this is also a small production wine with about 3,500 bottles made by the owner’s son at Quinta do Infantado. It is reputed to be the smallest independent producer in the Douro. The vines average 50 years old and the castas (grapes) stem from “A rated” vineyards. Medium ruby in color, this is a light-bodied, easy to approach, grape-centric fruit-forward and rustic style with moderately round tannins and a solid finish. Not profound, but interesting and I liked the 2001 version better when I had it last year. 85 points (10-1-06)

1982 Porto Valriz LBV Port – Bottled in 1988, this light ruby-pink colored wine with a tawny edge showed a spicy nose with a touch of caramel and toffee and some acetone as well. It is medium-bodied and basically a simple LBV with the appearance of a 20 year old Tawny. The palate was refreshing with a gentle blueberry profile and a slightly hot and medium length finish. It would have been better served with some significant time in decanter. I believe this bottle had just been opened so it is more difficult to assess it properly. The Valriz would have scored a bit higher if not for the VA. 87 points (10-1-06)

2000 Quinta da Prelada LBV Port – This was the first Port ever produced by this SQ which has roots back to 1757. This LBV was bottled in 2004 and the dark purplish ruby color was no surprise. Lovely blackberry and raisins on the nose. Offering medium weight and a rich mouthfeel, the texture was matched by a well-balanced mélange of dark berry flavors and plenty of tannins which kick in late on the chocolaty aftertaste. I liked it significantly better than my last experience. Impressive! 91+ points (10-1-06)

2004 Casal dos Jordoes Vintage Port – Dark ruby color with plum, chocolate and prune aromatics. This is a pleasant off-dry youngster that is simple and approachable. Very straight forward grenadine syrup extract, with ripe tannins. A bit thin on the palate, hopefully it will flesh out in the future. 84-86+ points (10/1/06)

Quinta do Vallado 20 year old Tawny Port – Notes of herbs, citrus peel and walnuts made for a complex nose but it was compared blind to the Ferreira 20 year old as it was Gustavo’s attempt to see if I could pick out my favorite versus his. I did pick out the Ferreira and although I allowed all others to choose their favorites before stating which was clearly the Duque, all but one in our group chose the Ferreira as their preference. Sorry Gustavo! That said this did deliver plenty of palate pleasure both texturally smooth and seamless praline aftertaste, with length. 92 points (10-1-06)

Ferreira Duque de Braganca 20 year old Tawny Port – The King of Tawny in my opinion. Smoky, roasted chestnuts, almond liqueur and a touch of heat showing on the nose and palate. Viscous if not downright unctuous with an ever-lasting, smooth and delicious finish which makes this wine so very special. I could sip this all night long. 94+ points (10-1-06)

1952 Dalva White Colheita Port – Bottled in 2006. Every time I visit Oporto, this is a must buy for me, as one can NEVER own enough bottles of this intense and succulent nectar. Light amber in color, the aromatics are as stunning as the palate itself and deliver scents of walnuts, brandy, citrus peel and in inexplicable lactic note which I have not perceived in this Port before. The flavor profile is a complex treat of warm honey, almonds and candied pralines with a smooth and decadent mouthfeel, yet with only a medium-weight to this intriguing elixir. The pinpoint focus is supported by extraordinary acidity and an intricately layered finish which left a half dozen mouths speechless and smiling. I never tire of this Colheita and the last sip is like saying goodbye to an old friend. 95+ points (10-1-06)

Quinta da Romaneira 40 year old Tawny Port – Normally I love this wine but feel it may have suffered coming on the heels of the Dalva ’52 which is hard to beat for ANY wood aged Port. The Romaneira is always a very special treat and here it showed a dark mahogany color. The coffee bean and nutty nuances were met with a touch of VA on the nose. The significant strength of this Tawny is the monster richness which coats the palate with its extremely full-bodied, dense and velvety textured juice. Wow, you almost need to have water to be able to sip this one. On this particular tasting though the finish seemed much shorter than normal and the mid-palate lacked some depth, but again … it was either hurt by comparison to the previous wine or it is possible that it was opened for a prolonged period of time. 92 points (it is better than this!) (10-1-06)


Calem Velhotes White Port – “Velhotes” translates to “old friends” in Portuguese and I was happy to make new friends with this white Port. Simple yet tasty with some seckel pear and white peach flavors and a delicate light-bodied style that tended towards the sweeter side of the spectrum. As the first Port after my morning tooth brushing, this was perfect and “seasoned” my mouth properly. Actually, it was better than I was expecting from their entry level white Port.

Calem Velhotes Tawny Port – “Velhotes” with the picture of three men sitting with their glasses raised is actually one of the best selling “ranges” of entry level Port in Portugal. I enjoyed the white a bit more than this Tawny which was quite basic, but what does one expect at 5 Euros per bottle? Some raisin, prune and plum notes with a hot steak both on the nose and the palate that stood out. Simple and with a short finish, it’s best attribute was the elegant mouthfeel except for the spirit. I am sure that the Calem oenologist Pedro Sa is very capable of making better wines, but we were here unannounced, as pure and simple tourists without an appointment. These were the only two wines we were offered. 81 points (10-2-06)

Calem Velhotes Tawny Port – "Velhotes" with the picture of three men sitting with their glasses raised is actually one of the best selling "ranges" of entry level Port in Portugal. I enjoyed the white a bit more than this Tawny which was quite basic, but what does one expect at 5 Euros per bottle? Some raisin, prune and plum notes with a hot steak both on the nose and the palate that stood out. Simple and with a short finish, it’s best attribute was the elegant mouthfeel except for the spirit. I am sure that the Calem oenologist Pedro Sa is very capable of making better wines, but we were here unannounced, as pure and simple tourists without an appointment. These were the only two wines we were offered. 81 points (10-2-06)


2000 Sandeman Vau Vintage Port – Dark purple color. Sweet violet aromas and scents of raspberry and grenadine. Spicy ripe blackberry fruit delivers a medium-body but shows a rich and grapey mouthcoating quality that was more enjoyable than this reads. For a wine designed to be easy-to-approach early on, the tannins are a tad aggressive, although I really enjoyed the length of the aftertaste. 90+ points (10/2/06)

2003 Sandeman Vintage Port – I have had this wine on several occasions and this was the best showing to date. A wonderful nose of spice, strawberry and that boysenberry that I enjoy in many young Sandeman VPs. This gained some weight since my last tasting about a year earlier and it is dense and chewy and has really hit its stride. It is in the dry spectrum with viscous blackberry fruit with a solid attack of acidity and plenty of tannins to take this the distance. Keep ‘em in the cellar for a couple of decades. Nice to see how well this is showing and the prolonged finish was most impressive. 92+ points (10/2/06)

Sandeman Tawny Port – I normally skip this basic Tawny and head right to the 10 and 20 year olds which I find a great value given the quality and drink the 20 year old at home. But this is a simple bottling at 8 Euros. It is a light strawberry color. Somewhat simple but really tasty, providing a sense of symmetry and its well balanced. Medium-bodied and it delivers a gentle and very smooth finish. Not bad! 86 points (10/2/06)

Sandeman 20 Year Old Tawny Port – Light orangish/brown color. Ah, the nose shows such fine perfume of toasted almonds, a smoky almost charred peaty note and butterscotch. This Tawny has always been one of my go-to 20 year old bottlings as Sandeman’s 10, 20 and their 40 year old are incredibly consistent and delicious. Rich, elegant and smooth with a caramel core and a praline highlight that adds complexity. As good as it all sounds, the strength of this smooth operator is the harmonious, minute long finish that is like slurping sweet liquid hazelnuts. 94 points (10/2/06)

2003 Sogrape Vinhos Callabriga Douro Douro Red – A blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca. Magenta colored with fragrant cherry and strawberry. Ripe, soft and smooth textured, this Douro red went well with our lunch. Totally approachable and easy to enjoy now and does not seem to be meant for cellaring as I was unable to pick up any sign of tannins. This is really a generous and enjoyable food wine that doesn’t need a lot of thought. 88 points (10/2/06)


1983 Ramos Pinto Tinta Roriz Vintage Port – This grapes is used for the addition of tannins into the VP recipe and age ability. It maintains color but not intense or darkly extracted grape. Anyway, the Roriz has a very spicy nose of cinnamon and a touch of toffee and caramel. Full-bodied and it is showing lots of acidity. The tannins are round and soft. Good length ot the finish but there is plenty of heat and a tannic bite on the aftertaste. 87 points (10/2/06)

1983 Ramos Pinto Touriga Franca Vintage Port – RP uses this grape to add structure to the blend. The Franca normally provides the intensity of the fruit too. This particular Port is showing lighter in color than the Roriz and is a medium ruby with lots of bricking. The palate is enjoyable with great depth of cherry and chocolate flavors. The finish is a bit shorter than expected and there is a good dose of alcohol that shows up late, which is disconcerting. 86 points (10/2/06)

1983 Ramos Pinto Tinta Barroca Vintage Port – I liked this Port the best of the first three grapes, as there is far more extraction here with a very dark ruby color. The palate is soft and sensuous with red fruit, an herbal quality and some chocolate as well. It is a chewy Port with ripe tannins, but its strength lies is in the sublime, long finish which is smooth as well as tasty. 90 points (10/2/06)

1983 Ramos Pinto Touriga Nacional Vintage Port – The Nacional brings it all home with elegance, finesse and fabulous aromatics. It shows dark cranberry in color with some cinnamon spice scents and red fruits on the nose. I’d buy this on its own for the fruit is dense, sweet and balanced by powerful tannins. This will even continue to improve for another decade. The Touriga Nacional was my favorite of all single grape VPs and it’s very drinkable now. 92 points (10/2/06)

1983 Ramos Pinto Vintage Port – I would have to say that side-by-side today, I prefer the Touriga Nacional, which is quite surprising to me in this tasting. The blend here is 40% Tourica Franca and 20% of each of the other grapes. In appearance, this looks significantly older than the other components, with a strawberry color and orange rim. The dark berry fruit and mocha explode on the fine nose, but the palate is nowhere near as exciting with red berry fruit that is soft and simple with enough spirit to be distracting on the palate but especially the finish. 87 points (10/2/06)

2000 Ramos Pinto Late Bottled Vintage Port – Bottled in 2005. Very dark, nearly opaque magenta color. Ripe plum and prune notes with a floral backdrop, this immediately makes a statement. A very good LBV that is one to seek out and cellar as beyond the meaty and massively concentrated blackberry fruit, there are chewy, ripe tannins that will keep this improving for a decade. I wouldn’t open one for 3-5 years at a minimum. One of the best LBVs I’ve tried in some time, with a fabulous finish too! 92+ points (10/2/06)

2002 Quinta de Ervamoira Vintage Port – A very difficult growing season made the production of this Port a challenge. Ervamoira is the largest of Ramos Pinto’s four properties with Quinta do Bom Retiro as the other very well-known single Quinta name from this stable. Dark ruby color with a lighter pink edge. What is going on here? I get the sense of peach essence both aromatically and on the palate which I don’t think I’ve ever noted in a young VP. Very odd. Otherwise it is fairly simple with some tank flavors still prevalent. A medium-bodied effort and it is very young, tannic and hot. Not something I’d want to buy, although I can’t say it is “bad” it certainly is different.  83 points (10/2/06)

2003 Ramos Pinto Vintage Port – Inky dark color with full opacity. I’d have to say this is probably the best Ramos Pinto Vintage Port I’ve ever had. It has taken a big leap up since the tank sample I tried a year and a half ago. Floral, plum and cocoa powder provide a compelling profile. It is more densely populated than when young with lots of ripe and dense currant and plum flavors. The tannins are astringent and cheeky and deliver the balance for the big fruit here. I’d have to say this will be a winner in a couple of decades. What a nice improvement, although even from my tasting of the cask sample I liked this youngster. Great finish! 93+ points (10/2/06)

2004 Quinta de Ervamoira Vintage Port – With almost 200 hectares on the property, this is one of two key properties along with Bom Retiro, from the four Quintas owned by Ramos Pinto. Ervamoira is an integral Quinta for Ramos Pinto’s Vintage Port and in some vintages they produce both classic VP and this SQVP too. My score was right on the money with my earlier (cask sample) experience while at their Lodge in June. Showing a purplish-ruby color with full opacity. The nose is intriguing, leaving a spicy impression of mint and an earthy tobacco leaf scent along with some lingering “tanky” note. Ripe, chewy red berry fruit profile with good acidity and drying tannins. There is a really smooth and approachable palate presence with a dry mid-length finish. It is in need of lots more time for the components to come into synch which makes this ’04 tougher than most to assess at this point. I look forward to trying this again within the next year as it was bottled recently. 87-89 points (10/2/06)

2004 Ramos Pinto Vintage Port – Offering an opaque magenta color, this was my second experience with the flagship Port from this fine producer. I really enjoyed the explosive arsenal of aromas from this bottling that showed an herbal quality along with some pine, mocha and plum. Juicy and ultra-smooth, with a medium to full body, the flavors tend towards boysenberry and plum and deliver a well-balanced ’04 that is just a bit on the simple side. The alcohol on the finish still needs to integrate quite a bit more for this to reach its full potential. Speaking of which, the tannins have calmed down quite a bit since my experience four months ago. I find that interesting and view this VP with more of a mid-term aging potential. From a non-declared vintage… who needs to wait 30 years? 89-91 points (10/2/06)

Ramos Pinto 10 Year Old Tawny Port – Orangeish-cola color with a yellow edge. It has gentle toasted almond, mahogany and caramelize sugar scents that swirl in the glass. Great nose for a ten year old. Light-bodied and elegant with sweet nutty nuances and a citrus smooth finish that I liked a lot, except for a touch of heat. Great complexity for a 10-year and I will be seeking out this bottling for sure, when I get home. I am not easily won over by less than 20 year old wood aged Ports, but this drinks beautifully and much older than most ten year old Tawnies. 92+ points (10/2/06)

Ramos Pinto 20 Year Old Tawny Port – I believe I heard that much of the fruit comes from Bom Retiro, but I should have checked this. Anyway, orange-pink with a tawny rim. Burnished wood and VA come to the fore. Odd as I normally love this wine. Round, woody, smooth and a bit hot, but a solid wine with a touch of sweet praline and a medium length. I usually like this wine a bit more than on this tasting. 90 points (10/2/06)

Ramos Pinto 30 Year Old Tawny Port – This comes from the fruit of a few of Ramos Pinto’s combination of Quintas. Nutty and toffee nose with big, smooth and silky palate. Again the VA jumps out and is almost Madeira like, but the finish is long with caramel and vanilla nuances that bring it all together. Get rid of the VA heat and this would have been a great one. 92 points (10/2/06)

1937 Ramos Pinto Colheita Port – Bottled in 2000. Thank you Jorge and Joao for allowing us to access this beauty. Orange-amber color. Although it is open a week now the nose is intense with citrus, vanilla bean and pralines that dance to the fore. Wow! Smooth and an amazing amount of glycerin here with full-body weight, yet velvety on the mouth feel and beautifully balanced with zesty, crisp acidity. It provides a complex aftertaste of caramel and butterscotch that hits my pleasure zone although I detect just a slight degree of heat, otherwise fabulous, I am smiling as I know that this is the oldest Port most of the guys have ever had. 95 points (10/2/06)

1890 Ramos Pinto Colheita Port – Well there goes the “I know this is the oldest Port most of the guys have ever had” with the 1937. Almost a half century older, what an amazing way to end a wonderful visit to Ramos Pinto! This Colheita has a coffee color, with a greenish/yellow rim. There is a salty, chestnut nuance and 1912 D’Oliveira Verdelho immediately comes to mind. Ahh, the voluptuous waves of acidity are prominent and enhance the espresso bean, tobacco leaf and sweet cocoa flavors here with a tangy/tart citric edge which is quite pleasant here. A fabulous wine that has a medium length finish which may be because this has been open awhile. Thank you guys!  94 points (10/2/06)

2005 Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Douro White (Vinho Branco) – Just what the doctor ordered. A light and lively white wine that is texturally smooth with lemon and pear notes and very easy to drink. A solid quaffer backed by just the right amount of fresh acidity. A tasty number to start off the evening. 86 points (10/2/06)

2004 Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Douro Red (Vinho Tinto) – Not much of a surprise, this wine is comprised of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. For a wine that ranges in the $10-13 range, this was rather pleasant with medium-body weight with spice and cherry flavors plus just a mild sensation of tannins (could I even tell after all the Ports earlier?) but really approachable and a solid food wine, albeit simple. 86 points (10/2/06)

2003 Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Reserva Douro Red – The first vintage of the Reserva was in 1991, a fine year for Douro reds (think Barca Velha). 1/3 Tinta Barroca and 2/3 Touriga Nacional with just a trace of Touriga Franca added for good measure. Excellent nose of blackberry and an earthy tea note. This Reserva is open for business and is a far more delineated wine than the ’04 regular bottling (as it should be). It is vibrant and delicious with dark berry flavors, moderate tannins, great balance and a finely tuned mid-palate. Really enjoyable with our meal but this youngster will be great in another three or four years. Still, it is quite tasty today. 93 points (10/2/06)

2003 Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Reserva Especial Douro Red – I believe the Reserva Especial began with the 1995 vintage and was vinified again in 1999 and 2000. It is the top rung red wine made by Ramos Pinto. We were told that this wine was produced much the same way that Port was before modern methods of fortification were employed. One of the guys joked by asking if elderberry was added. This is made even more special considering the 75 year old, low yielding vines that produced the grapes. This should have been decanted as it is still very tightly wound and would have benefited from at least an hour or two of aeration before trying this. Big dark fruit that is concentrated and viscous. Although it is very smooth in the mouth, it remained reticent and a touch tannic. I actually enjoyed the Reserva better, but would love to find a bottle of this to enjoy when it is 5 years old. For now … 91 points (10/2/06)


n/v Niepoort Junior Tinta Reserve Ruby Port - I am embarrassed to admit I have never tried this before on any of my visits. It is a basic wine that used to be considered a “Vintage Character” Port. Dark garnet color. The Junior is a fresh and fruity wine with seemingly no flaws. It is well-balanced, quite approachable and a spicy, plum profile. I liked it! 85 points (10-3-06)

n/v Niepoort Senior Tawny Reserve Tawny Port – A light strawberry color, this simple Tawny spends an average of 5-6 years in wood. It shows the wood influence and is easy to sip with a tasty raspberry edge. Given its modest price range, this would be a good bottle to enjoy while sitting on the deck in the summer or even to accompany a fine cigar. 84 points (10-3-06)

2001 Niepoort LBV Port – Stylistically speaking, I enjoyed this more than the 2000 LBV, which I found too sweet. The ‘01 spent about 5 years aging. This is a vibrant LBV with juicy plum laden fruit and a smooth texture. Probably could improve for a few years too as the tannins are resolved but noticeable and along with a fine finish, the strength here is in the overall balance. 92 points

Niepoort 10 Year Old Tawny Port - A light strawberry color not all that different than the Senior in its hue. That is where the comparison ends. This shows significantly more influence from the small pipes used in the aging. Jose Nogueira was sitting with us while we tasted it. Great texture and a gentle almond flavor were quite enjoyable. The finish was longer and with a better aftertaste than most other Ports in this category. 91 points (10-3-06)

1994 Niepoort Colheita Port - (bottled in 2006).- Light ruby color. It offers a spicy and hazelnut aroma. Rich and dense, I am not normally fond of younger Colheitas but this was very good indeed. Dense and fruit driven with a light body weight and showing some elegance at this early stage of development. Impressive! Pop and pour or if adventurous, lay a few down to see how they develop in bottle. 92 points (10-3-06)

2004 Niepoort Vintage Port (cask sample) - 2004 was the birth year of Dirk’s daughter Anna, yet this Port will not be commercially released as Niepoort Vintage Port, possibly in the future though as a “Niepoort Projectos” Port. Regardless, Ms. Niepoort will have some tasty wine to drink when she comes of age. It is far more approachable than any Niepoort VP that I’ve ever tasted at this early stage. With an essence of black cherries, it presents boysenberry and ripe plum flavors with moderated tannins. This youngster is nowhere near as powerful as the 2000 or 2003 from cask. It does possess a well knit structure bolstered by zippy acidity and purity of fruit. A mid-term ager that reminds me of the 1985 Niepoort when it was young, although I never had it as a cask sample.
91-93 points (10/2/06)

2003 Niepoort Vintage Port – Opaque, big, ripe and viscous. My first impression was that the tannins were much tamer in this glass then when I drank a bottle of it as a cask sample (over a few days). Full-bodied with wild blueberry and plum flavors providing a surprisingly approachable VP with overt but mostly round tannins. Structurally, this has gorgeous acidity and the potential is still to be measured in decades, not years. The finish was just phenomenal and the others at the table were blown away by this VP as most had never tried it before. 97+ points (10-3-06)

1970 Niepoort Colheita Port - This was a 1987 bottling. I can’t think of many other Port producers that would release a Colheita in the same year they declare a vintage. This dusty old bottle was opened on the spot so there was no time for letting it breathe. Amber/orange with bricking on the edge. Spicy aromas with a touch of VA and a hint of caramel added to the intricate profile. Medium bodied and sexy silky smooth, the mélange of vanilla, toffee and nutty almond was delicious and harmonious. This ’70 delivers superb balance and a voluptuous, mouthcoating sensation on the aftertaste. A tough call which I like more from 1970, this one or the VP. 94 points (10-3-06)

1995 Niepoort Colheita Port – (bottled in 2006) I found this to be less vibrant than the 1994 version we tasted a short while ago. In comparison, I find the ’95 “less” in terms of body weight, overall complexity and the length. There is a smoky and wood ingrained element here which is strikingly different. 88 points (10-3-06)

2005 Niepoort Vintage Port (cask sample) – Leave it to the Niepoort’s to allow us to try a 2005 cask sample at this stage. Fully opaque and inky, as I’d expect from a youngster with this lineage. Violets and intense lavender come to the fore. Intense and juicy with moderate acidity but powerful tannins at this stage, this is no surprise. I prefer it quite a bit over the 2004. It tastes drier than the 2004 and the tannins are far more astringent, this also shows a greater sense of structure and I believe this will be quite age worthy, yet it is still so very young. It possesses a very generous finish with a long aftertaste. 94-96 points (10-3-06)


1994 Graham’s Vintage Port – It is a real treat to have this for the second time in ’06 from the Symington’s cellars, the last time was with Rupert in March. Very dark garnet color. Intriguing nose of grapey and peppery notes with a dash of mocha. Full-bodied and dense plum flavors dominate the palate and this was a standout VP but had a couple of serious rivals vying to be top dog in this horizontal setting. This is a power packed punch and needs about 3 decades before this will reach prime time. Another winner from Graham’s with a pacesetting finish. 95+ points (10-3-06)

1994 Warre Vintage Port - Medium ruby and much less extracted than the big guns in the lineup. The fruit is from the newly acquired Bom Retiro Poqueno. The focused bouquet of violets and cocoa lead to a feminine style of VP that is smooth and soft. However, the tannins rush to take over late in the game. There is a touch of alcohol on the afterburner finish, but these bottles were not decanted all that long. Nice chocolate edge on the aftertaste. Best to drink circa 2020-2025 when it should show about as well as the ’77 Warre does today. 91+ points (10-3-06)

1994 Dow Vintage Port - Deeply extracted and impenetrably dark magenta color. Immediately the sweet boysenberry and ripe plum fruit got my attention as it seemed atypical for Dow. I’m certainly not complaining as this is a fabulous modern Dow which is sumptuous and almost chewy. The balance here is the strong suit and along with the ripe tannins, this should make for old bone thirty to thirty five years down the road. 94+ points (10-3-06)

1994 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port - Vintage Port at this age rarely excites me more than this. But 1994 is THE Vesuvio that won me over upon release and ever since. Although I had bought a six pack pre-release, after trying it for the first time in 1997, I ran out and grabbed 12 more bottles and have reloaded since. This is one of the ‘94s that you can never own too much of. Brash and juicy with ripe black fruit flavors, the best descriptor for this brawny baby is “opulent.” On the finish, it almost delivers perfection. You can drink it at any point in your lifetime but don’t be afraid to enjoy a couple now, with lots of decanting time. 97+ points (10-3-06)

1994 Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port - Dark ruby color. The alcohol distracted me from appreciating the floral and red fruits aromatics here. Dry in profile with smooth raspberry and blueberry fruit and quite easy to approach and enjoy due to submissive tannins. Although attractive this is not a big wine but it is really well-balanced which brought up the scorecard. Drink now through 2025. 92+ points (10-3-06)

1994 Gould Campbell Vintage Port - Purplish-ruby color. A touch grapey with some lavender and violet scents. Soft and medium-bodied, with plum and boysenberry that lead to a fine finish. I don’t detect much in the way of tannins but the acidity delivers. I’d wait another decade and then start drinking ‘em. 91 points (10-3-06)

1994 Quarles Harris Vintage Port - I just wrote down quick, mostly single word adjectives to describe this VP: floral, medium-bodied, vibrant, smooth, resolved tannins, soft, quite simple. I did note that the finish was the shortest of the flight. 89 points (10-3-06)

2004 Graham’s Malvedos Vintage Port – The Malvedos has really fleshed out since I first tried it in late June. Having received considerably more decanting time, (I believe I heard 5 hours mentioned) which also helped. This ‘04 is an inky purple monster that presented spicy and floral notes with the essence of pure blueberry. Ultra-ripe on the palate with prune and juicy blackberry flavors that come to the fore. Good depth and medium tannins show the stuffing is all there, while finishing with a long chocoholics dream of an aftertaste. 93-95+ points (10/3/06)

2004 Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha Vintage Port – Purplish-ruby and fully opaque. The nectar of ripe Mirabelle plum, grapes and ripe berries come to the fore and make it difficult to remove my nose from the glass. Cavadinha’s stylized, rich and full-bodied 2004 VP delivers massive … if not downright chewy dark cherry and sweet yellow plums. Wow! A well-structured, yet approachable entry leads to tannins which then attack the palate and fortunately there’s plenty of luscious fruit here to stand up to them. From my first tasting of the Symington’s 2004 cask samples, (in June) this was my clear favorite and still is. My only reservation with giving this a significantly higher score was: the finish was rather clipped and there was a dose of spirit which protruded on the aftertaste. I look forward to revisiting this classy wine, to check on its progress and long term prospects. If I had to choose only one Vintage Port to buy in 2004, this would be it. 95-97+ points (10/3/06)

2004 Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port – One of my favorites from the Symington’s stable of 2004 VPs. This dark purplish colored SQVP delivers a sexy nose and is laden with dense, ripe strawberry and raspberry fruit. The palate attack is surprisingly sweet for a Bomfim and it has more of a viscous, black fruit profile which is smooth and ultra-ripe. The tannins are prominent and showing more drying astringency than when I tried it nearly four months ago. Today it shows as a chewy, concentrated beast with a superlative layered finish. This youngster shows a solid core within which will drink best in a couple of decades or three. 93-95+ points (10/3/06)

2004 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – Inky black with a purple edge. A tight and restrained nose withheld any pleasure, even with coaxing. However on the palate, this is far more approachable than recent versions of Vesuvio and it will be interesting to see how the ‘04 evolves in the near term. The ripe raspberry and boysenberry flavors border on being jammy and show a chocolate note on the medium length finish, which comprises a bit of heat as well. The tannins are less powerful than in either 2000 or 2003 at the same stage. I’ve tasted the Vesuvio on three separate occasions, (including a vertical of every Vesuvio vinified since the Symington’s took the helm in 1989) and although I am typically quite fond of this producer, the ’04 lacked the luster I have come to expect from this SQVP. 1,100 cases produced. 90-92 points (10-5-06)

2004 Dow’s Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira Vintage Port – Like Quinta do Bomfim, this is one of the properties that provide excellent grapes for the classic Dow Vintage Port. The Symington’s sold Senhora da Ribeira three decades ago and were fortunate to be able to buy it back about 9 years ago. It is situated across from Vesuvio, practically next door to a restaurant we dined at that memorable evening! Looking at this inky monster it is hard to discern between a purple and/or black coloration, nonetheless, it is fully opaque. Lush fresh cut flowers, spice and boysenberry compote provide a scintillating nose. The fruit is tart and dry with an early-picked blackberry quality that is refined in its approach and full-bodied in the mouth with some spirit that is not yet integrated. The finish is exceptionally smooth and its round tannins are laced with chocolate, while impressive in terms of its overall length, I would drink this in its prime at around 12-18 years of age. 500 cases produced. 90-92 points (6-28-06)


n/v Presidential Dry White Port - With six years in wood, this enjoyably fresh white hints at citrus and pear notes. A full fledged 20% alcohol is impressive in its complete and utter integration. There are some tasty caramel and nutty underpinnings and a solid core of acidity, with a key lime essence on the finish. Yum! 89 points (10-3-06)

2003 Grambeira DOC Douro White - One of the more enjoyable, actually impressive whites I have had from the Douro. Crisp and dry with mouthwatering acidity. An excellent seafood or shellfish wine pairing. The fruit was medium-bodied and with an apple vibrancy and freshness that I thoroughly enjoyed. 91+ points (10-3-06)

2003 V. Leite de Faria Gloria Tinto Colheita Seleccionada DOC Douro Red - With a mere 45 cases produced it will be difficult to find this ever again. This wine contains 40% Touriga Nacional, 50% Tinta Roriz and 10% Franca. It shows dark ruby in color with fresh floral fragrances and a touch of vanilla. Bright and supple red fruit that has charm and is a solid wine to pair with meat. Totally approachable and a good glass pour for restaurants, but also worthy of laying down in the cellar. 86 points (10-3-06)

2003 V. Leite de Faria Gloria Tinto Reserva Colheita Seleccionada DOC Douro Red - 60% Roriz and 40% Touriga Nacional. Another 45 cases produced of the Reserva. It is delicious and a far more serious wine. It shows great depth of flavors of ripe and smooth plums and smoky prunes. This will drink even better in 3-5 years. 90+ points (10-3-06)

1995 Presidential Colheita Port - This Dalva would have benefited from a few hours in the decanter. There is a citrus element to the nose along with the smell of a furniture store. Full-bodied and smoother than I’d expect from a Colheita this young, the palate delivers lip smacking caramel and praline. It’s a delightful Tawny with laser beam focus with only one flaw. Unfortunately, on the nose, palate and especially the finish, the alcohol is front and center and dominates the experience. This would be close to a mid-90 pointer had the alcohol been more integrated. It is possible that decanting would have totally cured this issue. 91+ points (10-3-06)

1952 Dalva White Colheita Port (bottled in 2006)- As I have reviewed this on several occasions in the past 18 months, let’s just keep it simple. This is a fabulous and unique white wine that is as profound as many a great Madeira of this ilk. The ’52 Dalva is an “amusement park in the mouth.” 95 points (10-3-06)


2002 Rio Bom Reserva Colheita Port - I wanted to save myself for the Ports that followed so I can not adequately evaluate this wine. I can report that it is about $8.50 USD and is supposedly in the USA, unless I am mistaken. 825 cases were produced from Roriz/Nacional/Franca grapes. 87 points (10-3-06)

Quinta do Mourao 20 Year Old Tawny Port - Mario Braga Herdeiros brought a few of his Ports for us to try. The 20 year old displayed an orange color and yellow rim. Impressive aromatics here, with cinnamon, almond paste and pralines. The palate is even more impressive and this full-bodied beauty possesses decadent toffee and caramel liquidity with a smooth but ultra-rich mouth presence. A solid acidity level equates to a finely balanced experience and the long lasting aftertaste drills an extra point home. Not bad for 33 Euros. 93 points (10-3-06)

Quinta do Mourao 30 Year Old Tawny Port - Another fine Tawny by Herdeiros, this appears in glass as a coffee color and yellow edge. A spicy nuance along with mahogany on the nose. Dense and seductive and this may have something to do with the fact that Mario keeps his Tawnies stored up in the Douro and tops them off 2x per year. The complex mid-palate adds to the fun as citrus and butterscotch meld to create something special in the glass. The main wine here is from 1972. The finish suggests 1942. What a great discovery and well worth 50 Euros. 94 points (10-3-06)

Quinta do Mourao 40 Year Old Tawny Port - The 40 year old has a distinctive appearance that is cola colored with a yellowish/green rim. The majority of the base wines is 60 years old. Although Mario’s father bought the winery in 1972, the purchase entitled him to the old stocks of wine in cask. There is a smoky, almost roasted flavor here with chestnuts, candied pecans and a zest of citrus included in this intricate Tawny. Although it is not as dense in the mouth, it is still quite round and concentrated. It finishes with a sweet caramel that is warm and inviting. I only wish I could find this in the USA. A steal at 80 Euros! 94 points (10-3-06)


2003 Roquette e Cazes Xisto Douro Red – 60% of the blend is Touriga Nacional and the balance is a combo of Roriz and Franca. The name comes from the Douro’s soil type (if you can call it “soil” which basically comes from vertically situated sedimentary schist (Xisto in Portuguese). This is a 50/50 joint venture between Crasto’s Roquette family and Jean-Michel Cazes. Although the fruit eventually won over, the vanilla and cedar were the dominant characters here with some dark berry notes which were almost obscured. Simple and dense, I did not like this on the first couple of sips. It was a bit dumb and never showed any mid-palate or complexity and beyond ripe sweet berry flavors, there was too much wood influence. The wine spends a year and a half in wood and maybe this wine just needs a lot more air time or cellaring. I don’t “get it” but others in our group seemed to like it quite a bit more than me. Miguel expects this to retail for about $35-$40. About 3,000 cases were produced. 88 points (10/4/06)

2004 Roquette e Cazes Xisto Douro Red – The fruit was sourced from the Douro Superior for this bottling. A bit more concentrated than the 2003 and less ripe, this is a positive, with smoky and spicy notes. Medium to full body weight and easy to approach now, actually easier than the ’03 which it followed. I found this to be a better balanced wine with a more supple texture and longer length than the 2003. The oak also seemed much more subdued which I was pleased to find. I did not get to ask about the oak treatment with the 2004 and wonder if it is the same as 2003. Either way, this was far more seamless. No need to cellar the 2004, but it certainly will drink well over the next five to ten years. This is a 50/50 joint venture between Crasto’s Roquette family and Jean-Michel Cazes. Suggested release at $35-$40. 92+ points (10/4/06)

2004 Quinta do Crasto Flor de Crasto Douro Red – Not sold in the USA at this time, Flor is an entry level offering, with grapes that are purchased from other properties. It shows a simple and grapey essence with plenty of spicy blackberry and plum fruit. Smooth mouthfeel and easy to drink now. I don’t know the price but guess it will be quite inexpensive. Simple and tasty, better as an accompaniment to food. 8,500 cases were produced. 84 points (10/4/06)

2005 Quinta do Crasto Douro Red (cask sample) – From 100% estate grown grapes comes this basic Douro red wine which is very popular and shows what Crasto is all about. It is still quite primary at this juncture. Spicy pomegranate and floral notes with the majority of the cuvee coming from Tinta Roriz. Very ripe, sweet purple fruit and a solid structure which leads to a smooth and moderate length finish. It should drink well upon release and through 2012. 15,000 cases produced and the US price will be approximately $18. 88+ points (10/4/06)

2004 Quinta do Crasto Douro Tinto Reserva Old Vines Douro Red – This is going to be one heck of a buy. There is a reason why this is such a great bottle of Crasto Reserva. It was bolstered by the fantastic grapes from the 70 year-old, old vines of the Maria Teresa vineyard, which were declassified and (makes up 10% of the cuvee) incorporated into the Reserva bottling in 2004. Score! Produced unfined and unfiltered, the ripe and complex dark cherry and grenadine flavors are bolstered by no nonsense tannins and a gorgeous aftertaste. I suggest cellaring this wine until about 2010 (released 2007) and the drinking window will remain wide open through 2020. 7,000 bottles produced. Suggested retail price of $33 although I have a feeling it will be closer to $40 and difficult to come by. 93+ points (10/4/06)

2004 Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional Douro Red – Although the 2001 version of Crasto’s Touriga is one of my favorite Portuguese red wines since the 1991 Barca Velha was in its prime, I see an even greater future for the 2004. Although some love the 2003 and some find it less inspiring, the 2004 is for my palate the best of the three vintages although quite a big gentler than the brawny ‘03. It is a far cry from the 1996 which I bought a case of on release, showing the learning curve (but the ‘96s are still showing very well thank you). The 2004 is deeply extracted and delivers beguiling aromas of tobacco, chocolate, cedar and an earthy nuance which leads to an expressive core of mocha, dark berry flavors and a kiss of gentle tannins. Admittedly, it took a lot of coaxing through aggressive swirling to enable this one to open up. The structural components are all there although somewhat dominated by the big fruit at this early stage. Make no mistake about it; 2004 has enough guts and plenty of acidity, which promises solid mid-term aging potential in the cellar and outstanding upside potential. Drink through 2015. The 7,000 bottles produced are projected to leave the gate at $80 but more than likely, much higher. It is practically impossible to find in the USA as very little leaves Portugal where it is viewed as one of the country’s greatest red wines year in and year out. 94+ points (10/4/06)

2004 Quinta do Crasto Vinha da Ponte Douro Red – Along with Niepoort’s 2004 Charme, this is the current best wine made in the Douro, in my opinion. I loved the 2003 version too and clearly the ancient vines from this very special vineyard are capable of delivering greatness. With a limited production of 2,700 bottles, I expecte this will be as easy to find as Jimmy Hoffa’s remains. I have devoted much time to this effort over the past few months with little success. When I tasted this my first thought was, “this is the best darn red Douro wine I’ve ever put in my mouth.” I thought the same thing a year ago when first trying the 2003 Ponte which is also fabulous. Critics may find it a bit obvious in a Harlan sort of way, but I love Harlan too. This is a powerful and masculine wine, not for the faint of heart and demands cellaring to really deliver its true potential. The extraordinary concentration of dark fruit penetrates one’s palate and mind simultaneously, with a hedonistic mouthfeel and a finish that brings all kinds of superlatives to the fore. If you can find a bottle, cellar it for a decade and I bet it will be great circa 2025 too, as this is not a wine to be taken lightly. It is a guaranteed “cult wine” in the making and even better than the fantastic 2003. If somehow you land a half case, drink one early to see the beautiful toddler before it grows into a brazen teenager, for those with patience. 96+ points (10/4/06)

2003 Quinta do Crasto Vinha da Ponte Douro Red – The phrase “world class wine” comes to mind when drinking this impeccably produced hedonistic, masculine wine. I have had it several times now and really enjoy it, although I believe the 2004 is the superior vintage for da Ponte. Lots of vanilla on the nose initially but swirling this baby pays off and eventually I sensed some anise, cranberry and rhubarb. Structurally the tannins seem to be hidden by the big fruit forward style and although balanced, there is a touch of wood that protrudes. The flavors tend towards dry and tart red fruits with a blast of chocolate on the finish which lasts for a long time. Overall, it is a really wonderful and exotic wine that needs a couple of years before coming into its own. I’d leave ‘em alone until 2010 and drink through 2018. 94+ points (10/4/06)

2001 Quinta do Crasto Vinha Maria Teresa Douro Red – I had this wine with dinner and watched it evolve slowly in my glass over a few hours. My notes are not profound as I had this and the 2001 Touriga Nacional side-by-side and wanted to let them both really air out. I have had the Touriga Nacional in the past and am pleased to have this beauty alongside it. Big, bold and gutsy and with air time it showed slightly more unrestrained and gracefully. This is the feminine sister to the power of the Vinha da Ponte, yet it is sumptuous and balanced and one heck of a drink at this early stage and shows potential for not only long term cellaring, but true greatness. This is in my top ten red Douro wines I’ve had and I wish I was smart enough to purchase some on release. It is a cult classic in Portugal and is certainly one of the crown jewels of the Douro, although next to impossible to find regardless of price. I loved the 2003 that I drank twice last year. I believe this will be the better of the two vintages, although the ’03 is gorgeous but still so tight.and tannic and possibly more age worthy, which is saying a mouthful. Drink the ’01 from 2007 through 2020 and possibly longer. 95+ points (10/4/06)

2001 Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional Douro Red – This is a benchmark effort by Crasto and one of the cult wines in country, akin to the reputation of 1991 Barca Velha. I believe it is the wine where Mother Nature, the handling of the Touriga Nacional varietal and the Crasto winemaking team all came together to deliver the Full Monte. Ever since, there has been no reason to look in the rear view mirror as this producer is on top of its game and at the pinnacle of Douro red wine production along with Niepoort. Smoky notes with black licorice and black pepper provide a provocative scent to the Touriga. The palate is even better and more complex with a layered mid-palate that showed an extraordinary depth of raspberry and vanilla flavors. The tannins are mostly tame but still present and overall this Crasto is as seamless as any Douro wine I have had during this trip. Fabulous! Drink today through 2020. 94+ points (10/4/06)

2000 Quinta do Crasto LBV Port – Bottled just four weeks ago. This shows very fine cassis and prune scents and a rich, full-bodied boysenberry profile with a smooth mouth feel that makes this very easy to approach and enjoy now. It should drink best around the end of the decade through 2012. 91 points (10/4/06) 2000 Quinta do Crasto Vintage Port – Unfortunately, this bottle was corked. n/r (10/4/06)

2003 Quinta do Crasto Vintage Port – Floral and fresh violets medium to full-bodied, vibrant tannins are not overwhelming. Raspberry and red berry fruit. Excellent aftertaste and length. Very tasty and feminine in style, easy to approach now, but with should drink well for another 15-20 years. 2,000 cases produced. 92 points (10/4/06)

2004 Quinta do Crasto Vintage Port – My notes were taken after MANY other Douro and Port wines and were less detailed than I’d have liked as we were heading to dinner. I wish I could have tried this again on another occasion. Too fruity, sweet and “tanky” at this stage. The Crasto VP is medium-bodied and juicy with a core of blueberry flavors to go with the ripe tannins and a somewhat simple, clipped finish. Good, but I certainly prefer Crasto’s 2003, the ’04 shows mid-term aging potential. 90 points (10/4/06)

1970 Quinta do Crasto Colheita Port – This was never commercially released and it was a real treat to share in tasting this rarity. The 1970 was actually produced by Miguel and Tomas’ grandfather and the cask it came from was never topped off. There is little of this left and it was a seamless Port with a plush mid-palate with praline and caramel flavors and plenty of acidity to balance the entire package. Not a speck of alcohol was showing and the sweet and complex finish offered great length and wowed our entire group. 95 points (10/4/06)

1994 Quinta do Crasto Vintage Port – I haven’t had this in quite a few years so it was a great pleasure for me to revisit this particular VP. Dark purplish ruby and in many ways this resembled a cask sample, as it is amazingly youthful considering its dozen years of age. Spicy and red fruits come to the fore with a solid structure with ripe and round tannins that should carry the ’94 for another two decades. The finish was long and tasty with some more aggressive tannins attacking on the aftertaste. Very enjoyable overall and possibly my favorite Crasto VP. 94+ points (10/4/06)

Taylor's Quinta de Vargelles

Fonseca Terra Prima Porto – Organically grown grapes were used for this particular bottling. Very ripe and tasty grapy flavors that were interesting and a bit monolithic. Very primary, sweet and fruit forward with the need for more acidity and tannic structure. 83 points (10/5/06)

1986 Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Port – Light ruby in color with slight bricking on the edge. Providing floral scents, mocha and dominant plum notes. Medium-bodied and generous, soft, smooth red berry flavored juice and mostly resolved tannins. There is some heat that protrudes on the medium length finish. Drink up over the next ive years. 87 points (10/5/07)

1987 Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Port – What a treat, as I have had the Vargellas from this vintage so many times, but this bottling only a couple of times in the past. Medium garnet color. A bit tight and I don’t believe this was decanted ahead of time. Slightly stewed tomato notes and an herbaceous off putting aromatic profile. Sweet fruit that was clearly madeirized and this must have been a flawed bottle. What a shame as I really was looking forward to this one. n/r (10/5/06)

1988 Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port – Some thought it was corked, but regardless, we all agreed that it was a slightly off bottle. n/r (10/5/06)

1991 Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port – Dark ruby color. Intense violet notes with mocha and a peppery aroma which set the ‘91 off nicely. Mouthfilling and heavy in weight, this Vargellas is impressively youthful at 15, with plum and boysenberry flavors and a touch of sweetness that carries onto the tannic and long finish. 91 points (10/5/06)

1996 Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port – Extremely extracted dark purplish ruby color. I loved the exotic and expressive nose which showed spicy, herbal and eucalyptus fragrances. The generous purple fruit had a medium body weight, with soft to medium tannins and bright acidity. This Vargellas although very tasty, gave me the impression that it will be drinking at its best between 2010-2015, yet it certainly can be enjoyed early and often. 88 points (10/5/06)

2004 Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port (Cask Sample) – Tasted on three separate occasions, (two months apart) including a three day affair with one bottle. Vargellas exhibited a dark purple/ruby hue and a violet scented beauty with notes of spice and mocha, followed by a whiff of black pepper. The ’04 version is a very tasty crowd pleaser right at the moment, full-bodied and in possession of a smooth mouthfeel that is very approachable. It has gobs of blue and blackberry fruit and plenty of acidity which provided synchronicity along with ripe tannins that added the backbone. This is a cellar worthy effort by Taylor’s Single Quinta and a longer finish with less heat, would have really driven up the score a few more points. Drink 2020-2030. 92+ points (10/5/06)

2003 Croft Vintage Port – No matter how many times I get to try this Port, whether as a cask sample or slipped into a blind tasting, (horizontal or otherwise) I am always left with a sense that I am drinking something really special. Inky and fully opaque, what is immediately striking is the focused structure of this VP. I don’t believe this saw any aeration in advance of our tasting so it showed slightly less unctuous as other previous examples. Seemingly very approachable at this point and with deft acidity and mouth watering tannins, this is so delicious for current consumption yet should last for at least 3 to 4 decades before reaching maturity. A truly great Croft with a phenomenal overall sense of balance not often found in such a young Vintage Port. Drink now through 2012, then hold until the window reopens between 2020-2060. 96+ points (10/5/06)

2006 Sao Xisto Vinha Velha Vintage Port (very early cask sample) – From the current harvest this wine is still so young and primary but such a wonderful experience for the group to try something this fresh and barely out of the lagar. It was vinified from some of the oldest vines in the Vargellas vineyards. Bright ruby red and the nose was dominated by lilac and vibrant violet aromatics. Dense, chewy and yet ultimately smooth across the palate and sexy already with a generous grenadine flavor profile. I was floored by the extra long finish this youngster possessed and I can’t even venture a guess where this is headed at this early stage. n/r (10/5/06)

2006 Sao Xisto Vinha Nova Vintage Port (very early cask sample) – Significantly darker than the Vinha Velha in color, in contrast it is sweeter juice and seemingly even more ripe in a cherry and raspberry profile. It offers less structure overall, but is opulent and quite approachable, albeit there is a bit of alcohol that needs to integrate. Not a big surprise from a Port that has barely been in existence for a month. This shows promise and a tasty finish but will need plenty of time for the spirit to meld with the grape. n/r (10/5/06)

Taylor 10 Year Old Tawny Port – Ruby orange hue. Simple and sweet with a gentle almond nutty profile and a medium long finish. A medium weight 10 year old with an aftertaste of caramel and although enjoyable, it is not in step with the top rung of 10 year olds in terms of intricacy of nuances. 86 points (10/5/06)

Taylor 20 Year Old Tawny Port – I found this more complex and layered than the Taylor 10 year old. Orangeish-ruby in color, it exudes a stylish full body and smooth palate presence that was rich and mouth coating. The mid-palate shows the dense stratum of walnuts and toffee while showing assertiveness and a hint of orange peel on the persistent aftertaste. 91 points (10/5/06)

Taylor 30 Year Old Tawny Port – Orange with a pink/yellow rim. Fine nose of nuts and a sweet wood nuance. Thicker and more pronounced nutty flavors (than the 20 year old) with hazelnuts dominating a backdrop of toffee that envelops the tongue with a crisp underpinning of acidity. Its significant asset is the long finish that delivers a polished sense of balance. 92 points (10/5/06)

Taylor 40 Year Old Tawny Port – Dark amber in color with a tinge of ruby on the rim. Toasty notes of caramel and pralines in a gentler and less viscous format than the 30 year old. The texture is silky and sexy with the requisite balance of acidity to reach a bold crescendo highlighted by the liquid butterscotch on the sublime aftertaste. A profound 40 year old. 94 points (10/5/06)

1985 Taylor Vintage Port – Very light rhubarb color with a pink rim. This could have used some time in a decanter to deliver more color/body/complexity. Smoky and spicy cinnamon scents lead to a thin and sweet frame of strawberry flavors that are light-bodied, elegant and balanced. Not what I’d expect from a Taylor or a top notch ’85, this was more reminiscent of a 1975 VP experience. Again, decanting may have made a difference. The finish was a bit short too. 84 points (10/5/06)

1977 Taylor Vintage Port – Magenta color and showing no signs of nearly 30 years old in its appearance. Ahhh, this is what a fine Taylor ’77 should deliver and again, without decanting this could not deliver all accoutrements, but nonetheless it is hard not to love this youthful VP. It took some coaxing and time to open up and showed a rich, full-bodied sumptuous Port. The structure is focused and the acidity and tannins are in perfect synch with the bold and brash berry fruit. Totally enjoyable right now and it portends a drinking window that should rival the epoch expressed by the legendary 1945. I beg to differ with those that think this is already at maturity today. Not even close! With at least six hours in decanter I’d probably have gone up another couple of points as I bet some of the spirit on the finish would have shown greater integration (and length). 95+ points (10/5/06)

1970 Fonseca Vintage Port – What a great way to end our visit to Vargellas and a noble gesture by Alistair and Gillyane! This is one of my all-time favorite 1970 VPs and this bottle exemplifies the greatness of the vintage and Fonseca. The funny thing is, I believe that this bottling has upside potential and will be even better in and around 2015-2020 when it really shows more mature, secondary nuances. Then again, I see no reason that it won’t be a stunning wine in 2050, so you decide at what stage you’d like to enjoy this one. Today, it was an unctuous, intense and complex Vintage Port showing its beauty and hedonistic style. Load up the cellar with all that you can find and afford! I am looking forward to start drinking the majority of my bottles circa 2025 and I’ll leave a few for my daughter Taylor to enjoy too. 97+ points (10/5/06)


1989 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 86) This was kept in the Douro after the regulations changed in ’86 and clearly has been affected by “Douro bake.” This was the first vintage of Vesuvio (in modern times) and the same year that the Symington family bought Vesuvio. Less than a half kilo/vine or about 15 hectoliters per hectare provide a bit more insight, considering that 30-35 hl/ha is normal. Talk about stress! Anyway this rare bottle of ’89 shows cranberry colored juice and a tawny rim, with a nose which tends to herbaceous, vitamin pill and sun-dried tomatoes. If the aromatics sound really unpleasant, they’re not … yet it’s not all that inviting either. This Vesuvio is mouth filling and full-bodied with generous fruit, but the downside is the roasted prune and raisin flavors that emanate with time in glass. On the positive side again, the finish is quite long and smooth. I can’t say I really liked it, but I found it very intriguing in a scientific sort of way and I would suggest that anybody in possession of the ’89 bottling, drink up very soon. 86 points (10/5/06)

1990 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 85.8) Light rhubarb color with a clear edge. Cinnamon spice, dill weed and mocha deliver a slightly odd bouquet and certainly a unique one. Medium to full weight this was another middling effort and shows nothing of the greatness of Vesuvio VP’s to come a few years later. The tannins still show a playful and lively side to them and a bit of spirit leaps out of the glass on the palate and especially the finish, which is a bit short, with an otherwise enjoyable chocolate nuance. My advice: drink up! 85 points (10/5/06)

1991 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 90.2) The Symington’s started to make some significant changes with this vintage and to avoid past issues with hot and difficult temperature variations during fermentation, they revamped their lagares by installing cooling coils. This proved a worthy improvement, as in the Ports it is very noticeable. Dark strawberry in color with scents of vibrant violets, licorice and herbs. This is a more feminine style of Vesuvio than in years to come, with a lighter and more elegant showing. The spirit is still not truly integrated and shows up more so on the mid-palate and finish, which is impressive in its length. Although this is not a blockbuster, I’d drink these between 2007 and 2015 for greatest pleasure and for another 5-10 years if you prefer fully mature VPs. 90 points (10/5/06)

1992 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 89.2) Opaque ruby color. The ’92 conveys an enjoyable earthy nose with some spice, cocoa powder and red fruit aromas. The fruit is vibrant and ripe with some chewy raspberry and grenadine flavors and of the first four vintages; the most density is seen here. However, the tannins are a bit over the top in their aggressive astringency and take over the palate by storm. Although there is plenty of bright fruit, I am concerned that the tannins will eventually wind up the dominant character in the blend. The finish goes down easy but is a bit clipped. Drink now through 2018. 88 points (10/5/06)

1994 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 95.4) In my mind and for my palate, this was the “first coming” of Vesuvio under the Symington’s watch. It changed the playing field and from my first pre-release sampling, I realized that Vesuvio had finally arrived. I have opened very few of my ‘94s and most have been Vesuvio as I have a hard time keeping my hands off of them. I continue to purchase six packs whenever possible as I believe this wine is every bit as great as the Taylor and Fonseca from this exalted vintage (even though I paid $38 on pre-release). Ruby centered with a purple rim, this is still such a youngster. What made the ’94 so great? The Symington’s began de-stemming the grapes and some new vineyards planted when the family took over, finally came on line and provided youthful exuberance. This wine exhibits primary and powerful juice, with ripe, smoky blackberry and a profound purity of grape flavors. The absolutely massive waves of fruit that nearly overwhelm the mid-palate are voluptuous and almost jammy in its intensity. The structure of this Vesuvio is up to the challenge of lasting four or five more decades to support the fruit, and I will stake my reputation on this, having put my money where my mouth is (going to be). Only the 2000 Vesuvio has accomplished this level of greatness, but I am sure there will be many more to come. 97++ points (10/5/06)

1995 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 87.4) Medium ruby in color with spicy cinnamon, spearmint and a kiss of oak. I don’t know what happened here as I don’t remember any other recent samplings of this wine. It shows a dense, full-body and very big tannins but then gets weird and hard for me to describe. There is an odd tobacco note and red fruits but a very bitter, medicinal finish which is quite short. I need to try another bottle of this to see if it was just an anomaly. 83 points (10/5/06)

1996 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 91) I distinctly remember my first tasting of this wine at Esquin’s wine shop in Seattle, up against a 1996 Quinta do Noval Nacional. Obviously this was a vintage that was not declared widely, but I have had a handful of very fine ‘96s and the Vesuvio fits the bill. There was a lot of rain before the harvest and generally it was a cool growing season with high yields per vine and per hectare too. This shows a lovely mélange of cherry, plum and boysenberry flavors, with good density. Unfortunately, a bit of spirit protrudes and detracts from the overall pleasure, especially on what might have been a really fine aftertaste. Hopefully in time this will fully integrate and in that case, the score might increase a few points. Revisit circa 2010. Drink 2010-2025. 91 points (10/5/06)

1997 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 94.2) Magenta color. The nose shows an initial medicinal scent and a strong rhubarb essence. This is a tasty wine with very ripe fruit in a big, brash and full-bodied style. The tannins pack a pucker punch and show especially massive on the finish. It was one of my favorites of the entire afternoon and has a great future. Drink 2018-2030. 93 points (10/5/06)

1998 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 90.4) This vintage is almost unknown, (I did a small horizontal last year but have not had that many VPs from ’98) as it was not widely declared, coming on the heels of the very solid 1997. This was very dark purple and fully opaque. Vibrant violets and fragrant plum aromas were expansive and the best characteristic of this Port. Sweet and juicy red fruit shows a softer style with less focus and gentle tannins. Drink now or through 2018, as this is a medium term ager that will provide pleasure early, while other Vesuvio VPs are taking a long nap. 89 points (10/5/06)

1999 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 91.2) I’ve only had this once before and it was a small pour at a casual tasting. This was significantly more profound and broad shouldered than I would have expected, but along with the likes of Ferreira and Quinta do Portal, (to name drop just two excellent examples) I have been enjoying some of the ‘99s. The chocolate dominated the lavender notes but together they were pretty sexy. Dense, call it “chewy” this was impressive and delivered dark berry fruit with cassis coming to the foreground while the mouth watering tannins showed the structure was firmly in place and powered the persistent and exacting finish. Drink 2015-2025. 92 points (10/5/06)

2000 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 91.4) When I reread my notes on this, I am surprised by my own scoring. I have had this quite a few times and it has always been a mind-blowing experience. Here too my notes were quite positive, but my score is stingy by comparison. Either way, this is a better wine than the rating alone and if you check my past notes, I’d go by those scores. However, others in the group were equally stingy with the highest score given a 92?!?! Back to reality: Incredibly dark and fully opaque with a floral scent, mocha/cocoa, boysenberry nose. Medium-bodied and sumptuous on the palate, the ’00 is a “complete wine” and one that will drink well early on as well as for many decades to come. The acidity stands tall next to extremely concentrated blackberry and cherry flavored juice. This Vesuvio possesses powerful and puckering tannins that take charge early and often. The finish should be saved for the highlight reels. Although this will be approachable in another decade, maximize your drinking pleasure by cellaring these for a long time and breaking them out circa 2030-2050. 2,500 cases produced from just over 10% of Vesuvio’s total production. 92+ points(?) (10/5/06)

2001 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 91.6) How could I score this the same as the exalted 2000, on this sunny afternoon? Clearly I made a mistake on the 2000, as this is a solid 92 points. Beyond the scoring, this is a very dark ruby colored VP. There is a gentle sense of red licorice and cherry notes. The sweet fruit here shows that 2001 is no slouch and compares favorably to the majority in this vertical lineup. I liked the balance here as it hit on all cylinders and the fruit was really smooth and fun to sip. I think that the tannins were quite round and made this very approachable and at least at this stage, this is drinking beautifully. The intensity of the finish was the significant strong point of the wine, as it lasted for ages and brought a smile to my face. Drink now or during the next 25 years. 92 points (10/5/06)

2003 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 94.2) Should anyone have any doubts about the uber-fine 2003 Vintage Vesuvio, they really need to wrap their lips around a bottle of it. I’ve had it several times now and it is right up there with the 1994 VP as one of the greatest bottlings in the short career of Quinta do Vesuvio (14 declarations). Dark purple and at full opacity. To say that this is a youngster is a silly understatement as it practically shows like a cask sample and would have benefited from a significant amount of time in decanter. This was the 2nd best Port of the day and will only get better as it rounds out down the road. Brash blueberry and primary plum in profile put me in purple Port paradise. A serious maelstrom of complexity shows up in the middle and also the lip smacking, show stopper of a finish. A brilliant prodigal Port that will last at least a half century and I suspect, considerably longer than that 96+ points (10/5/06)

2004 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – (Vertically Speaking FTLOP tasting at Vesuvio, group score = 91.6) Inky black with a purple edge. A tight and restrained nose withheld any pleasure, even with coaxing. However on the palate, this is far more approachable than recent versions of Vesuvio and it will be interesting to see how the ‘04 evolves in the near term. The ripe raspberry and boysenberry flavors border on being jammy and show a chocolate note on the medium length finish, which comprises a bit of heat as well. The tannins are less powerful than in either 2000 or 2003 at the same stage. I’ve tasted the Vesuvio on three separate occasions and although I am typically quite fond of this producer, the ’04 lacked the luster I have come to expect from this SQVP’s infants. 1,100 cases produced. Drink while young or between 2016-2025. 91 points (10-5-06)

1970 Dow Vintage Port – (from Magnum) What a great gift to take to dinner across from Vesuvio while meeting Herman and Ellie Gerdingh from The Netherlands. Ruby centered with a pink edge, there was a significant amount of alcohol on the nose along with cinnamon spice, wintergreen mint and plum notes that were slightly overshadowed by the spirit. Still, pretty heady stuff. Just starting to show some secondary notes as we finished the bottle and I think a policeman stole the empty for his collection at home. The Dow delivered red cherry berry fruit and had such smooth appeal and gentle tannins. I wonder how this would have been had we decanted this hours earlier. It was slightly underwhelming overall, given past experience and the fact that it was an ex-cellars large format bottle. I am positive this had far more to do with the fact that we finished it rather quickly and it had virtually way too little time to properly aerate. 91 points (10/5/06)


2004 Casa de Casal de Loivos Douro Red – The grapes from this property come from a vineyard with 1.6 hectares and 60 year old vines above Pinhão, which used to be sold to Quinta do Noval. Cristiano has maintained the relationship and produces this wine from Franca, Roriz and the balance of the grapes are from field blends. Dark raspberry, spicy and smoky notes with a hint of cedar. The concentrated plum and ripe cherry fruit shows a medium body, powerful and astringent tannins and fine length to the finish. Good long term prospects but not a wine to drink today unless you decant for at least a half a day. I’d keep this wine buried in the cellar for another five years when it will be bery enjoyable. 300 cases produced. Drink 2012-2018. 91 points (10/6/06)

2003 Casa de Casal de Loivos Douro Red – I found a huge difference between the 2004 and this wine. While the ’04 is nearly impenetrable due to the punishing tannins, this is far more approachable and enjoyable right now. It tends towards the dark fruit of the spectrum where I sensed more red berry flavors in 2004. There was a finer balance in this wine and I can understand if people like the bigger 2004, but this shows a symmetry which I really enjoyed and the finish was as long lived as it was delicious. Drink 2009-2016. 93 points (10/6/06)

2002 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Douro Red – It was fun to drink this from a Magnum bottle as I so rarely get that opportunity from Douro reds which often times never leave the Quinta’s cellar. Quite Bordeaux like in its aromatic profile with tobacco, leather and cedar supporting the main cast of characters which are smoky prune and blackberry flavors. Easy to enjoy now and I think this should drink well for another decade too. Fine juice which was tastier with lunch. 91 points (10/6/06)

2003 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Douro Red – I kept going back and forth between this and the 2002 and 2004. Although I like them all, for my money, I think the overall balance is better in this bottling. In fairness, given that the ’04 was only bottled about 10 weeks ago, it is much easier to assess the 2003 today. Regardless, the fruit here is ripe, intense and chewy with a very fine flavor profile of red berry fruits, anise and a touch of oak. The tannins are ripe but more round than either the 2002 or 2004 and I prefer the length of the finish of this wine as well as the textural pleasure. Although the 2004 may have more longevity, this is in a harmonious place right now and is the vintage I’d buy by the case. Enjoy it from 2010-2020. 94+ points (10/6/06)

2004 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Douro Red – Bottled just a few months ago (July) this is from 100% estate grown grapes. Powerful and concentrated, I would love more time to assess this wine as it is still a bit tight. Great potential for aging as it is crammed with tart dark plumy fruit and plenty of acidity to carry this for the long distance run. A gentle smoky and prune scent lent towards an interesting nose in this youngster. It finishes with plenty of flavor but the tannins take over and you know this has the stuffing to drink well for possibly two decades. 93+ points (10/6/06)

2004 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria CV (stands for Curriculum Vitae) Douro Red – Made by Sandra this is a very strong effort that will reward patience. Deeply extracted and concentrated juice from NW facing vineyards. Although it is rather easy to approach initially, the tannins are quite ripe and more astringent than the ’04 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria. Its ripe and sweet fruit of plum and raspberry, with a full-body and sassy texture, deliver a sensational and layered mid-palate that showcases the balance between the bright fruit, acidity and tannins. Nice finish too! This should drink well for 15-20 years, but I’d suggest waiting for at least five before taking any out of the cellar. Cristiano said it should sell for about $60. Production was more than triple the previous vintage and is still just a mere 400 cases. A few of the others in our group were more impressed than me. I’d like to spend a few hours more with this bottling. 92+ points (10/6/06)

2006 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Vintage Port – (cask sample) Not yet readjusted for the alcohol, this is about as raw of a cask sample as one could ever taste, as the harvest and fermentation was recently completed. Very dark purple and opaque. The alcohol is currently at 17.5% and this is so easy to drink and enjoy. The tannins are literally muted by the boisterous fruit forward style and smooth approach of this infant. I look forward to trying this again in two to three years to see how it has evolved. n/r (10/6/06)

2005 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Vintage Port – (cask sample) This has been stored in wood and stainless steel to keep it cool. I liked this quite a bit more than the 2004 and see better potential in the ‘05. While the 2004 shows balance and finesse and will make for a fine LBV year, the 2005 is going to be worth bottling as VP. Bright plum and blueberry flavors prevail and the body weight is already full and smooth on the palate. Long and luscious. 91-93+ points (10/6/06)

2004 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Vintage Port – This was the year that Cristiano introduced the robotic lagares. The nose offered raspberry, cherry and a touch of mocha which was quite enjoyable. The ripe and tasty fruit had a freshness and purity that was easy to like. Brimming with cherry and black currants this is a beautiful youngster and has the structural components to bring it for a few decades. A fine effort and one has to wonder if the robotics made any difference in this particular vintage? 91-93+ points (10/6/06)

2003 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Vintage Port – Fragrant fresh cut lilacs and ripe cherries come to the fore with an herbal note. This is the finest Vintage Port produced by Cristiano and Sandra. Really tasty fruit with blackberry, figs and a smooth texture which is rich and voluptuous. The mid-palate shows some chocolate layered in with the berry flavors which add some complexity and the moderately round tannins are present mostly on the full length feature of a finish. This is the best showing of this VP to date. Peak should be circa 2018-2025 although you don’t have to wait that long to enjoy it. A very fine effort! 93+ points (10/6/06)

2002 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Vintage Port – Dark magenta color. Herbal nose comprising spearmint and eucalyptus along with some cedar highlights. It delivers medium-bodied juice and is easy to approach, as this particular sample was opened the day before. Very easy to drink now and the flavor profile tends towards plum and black currants. 2002 was a tough year in the Douro due to the rain just before and in some cases, during the harvest and Cristiano picked late (after the rain). There is a green, slightly herbaceous quality to this VP and I wonder if it would have showed this way the day before. A bit simple too. Drink 2007-2017. 86 points (10/6/06)

2002 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria LBV Port – (cask sample) The bottling of this LBV was to take place a few weeks after our visit. It was fun to try this as a cask sample. Lavender and purple flower scents are wild and exotic. Very inky as would be expected. Smooth on the palate but with a bit of heat that protrudes, although it is early in the game as the alcohol should integrate with time in the bottle. The blackberry and kirsch flavors come to the fore and the finish is long but a tad hot. There is certainly upside po and it’s not the easiest wine to judge at this stage. 88-90+ points (10/6/06)


2004 Cedro do Noval Douro Red D.O.C. – Cedro the Portuguese word for cedar gave its name to this still red wine from the folks at Noval who have been experimenting with non-fortified wines for nearly a decade. 40% each Touriga Naçional and Tinta Roriz with 20% Touriga Franca. It will be released in January of 2007, so we were very early explorers of this wine. There is a core of smoky plum flavors and a really smooth, easy drinking pleasure to this wine and a well defined mid-palate. I enjoyed the Cedro and found a gentle oak presence that will integrate in the next couple of years and an overall sense of a well-balanced wine with modest aging capability along with a ripe and flavorful finish. 1,500 cases were produced of this juice with a proposed retail price of about $20. Drink 2008-2014. 90+ points (10/6/06)

2004 Quinta do Noval Tinto Douro Red D.O.C. – Given all of the new plantings and knowing Christian Seely’s feelings about recent LBV price wars, especially in the UK; I have a feeling that these two dry reds are just the beginning of things to come from Noval. 70% Touriga Naçional, 20% Tinta Cão and 10% Touriga Franca. An intricate mélange of scents of smoke, char and kirsch are heady and lead to blackberry and earthy flavors with a tannic and spicy finish. A solid first effort but I’d bet the ranch that the best is yet to come for Noval’s still wines. 225 cases were produced and the retail price will approximate $55. Drink 2010-2018. 92+ points (10/6/06)

2004 Quinta da Romaneira Douro Red – This is Seely’s first effort from his own property and I must admit that I was impressed and liked the wine just a smidgen better than the first forays by Noval into Douro reds. Made from 80% Touriga Nacional and 20% Tinta Cão. This property is enormous at 450 hectares but only 76 hectares are currently covered by grape vines. Violet and floral scents and a touch of vanilla on the nose are bolstered by a beautifully smooth and plush mouthfeel. The sexy texture will only improve from here and the crisp acidity, plum and prune flavors show a classy young wine that just needs a couple of years to fully meld. Keep an eye on this property! A suggested retail price of $40. 93+ points (10/6/06)

2000 Quinta do Noval Silval Vintage Port – Opaque magenta hue and no surprise given that it was foot trodden in lagar. Fragrances of fig, plum and mocha provide an alluring aromatic profile. Dense although medium-bodied it feels weightier on the palate and the fresh boysenberry and prune flavors dominate, while the still ripe tannins show up late and take charge. This is a bargain when it is carefully shopped. Every time I have this Silval, I am always left wanting more … as in … my glass. Drink now through 2020. 92+ points (10/6/06)

2000 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port – This was in some pretty prestigious company and on its own probably would have scored a point higher. Inky and opaque, the nose is great with espresso bean, anise and dark chocolate intertwined. This is the bigger brother of the Silval and shows class and potential for serious aging. The chewy cherry and blackberry fruit is tantalizing and although the dusty tannins are powerful, the acidity and fruit match up quite well. I’d leave bottles in the cellar for another decade before opening any but these will really show best between 2030-2040. With that said, they are pretty easy to fall in love with right now. 94+ points (10/6/06)

2000 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port – Black as our Douro sky tonight with a purple rim. What a treat to have this VP yet again, made even better by consuming this at the Quinta. I’ll never tire of it and it will certainly outlive me! I believe it would have showed even better had it enjoyed some rest in the decanter before being consumed. Although it was tight at first, I revisited this a few times during the evening and it opened up after lots of coaxing. Dominant plum immediately upon popping the cork and it was joined by black licorice and an herbal/pine aroma which I liked, but had not experienced in this wine before. This is a Frankenstein of a wine and was more approachable due to its just being opened. As the night wore on it actually grew more punishing in terms of the enormous grip. The purity of the blackberry and cassis flavors is evident from the get go and the richness in the mouth is not to be believed. The 2000 Nacional is a legend in the making. I would drink this anytime it is offered, but would not consider opening one from the cellar for two decades. This will be enjoyable when my daughter is my age! If you own any, hold off until your 75th birthday … no matter if you are 20, 30 or 50 years old now. 97+ points (10/6/06)

2001 Quinta do Noval Silval Vintage Port – I love trying a Port for the first time and had never even seen this VP before. Medium ruby in color with walnuts and raspberry liqueur on the nose. Very gentle and velvety smooth initially with ripe red berry flavors and lots of astringency on the medium length finish. Probably could have used a few more hours in a decanter, but I’ll just have to try it again at some point. Two hours later it was not much different. Drink between 2012 and 2020. 88 points (10/6/06)

2002 Quinta do Noval Silval Vintage Port – I have only had a handful of the “difficult” 2002 VPs and this was a first from this vineyard. It showed slightly herbaceous than the 2001 although I liked its overall synchronicity better, specifically the balance, structure and more subdued tannins. The strong point was the sweet and long aftertaste. Drink from 2012-2025. 90 points (10/6/06)

2003 Quinta do Noval Silval Vintage Port – Another Silval that could have used a bit of time in the decanter as this was “pop and pour” at the Quinta. Blueberry pancake syrup came to mind upon first whiff. Also some boysenberry is noted and a bit of alcohol protrudes on the nose. Ripe plum and fennel flavors are enhanced by the supple acidity, a genteel mouth feel and round tannins. The finish is shorter than I typically find in this VP and again, I wish this had been decanted for several hours. Drink 2015-2025. 91+ points (10/6/06)

2003 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port – Opaque purplish ruby hue. This 2003 stallion is a great modern day version of Noval’s renaissance since its purchase by AXA ten years prior to this harvest. Sweet scents of flowers, cocoa powder and cassis leap from the glass. Texturally pleasing with an impressive viscous presence accessorized by dark cherry and blackberry flavors which are ripe and abundant. The no nonsense tannins show that this will be a long lived VP and will be best served after long cellaring. It is easy to approach now but its best years are a few decades down the road. 6,000 cases produced. Drink 2015-2045 96+ points (10/6/06)

2003 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port – Inky with full opacity and I imagine that will be the case for a decade or more, as VP doesn’t get much darker than this. Tight as a snare drum initially, I continued to revisit this wine throughout the night at Noval with the 2006 Harvest Tour gang. This Nacional is full-bodied but my sense is that there is more massive richness in the regular bottling of Noval, although the Nacional does seem more powerful with a structural frame which is bigger. It offers very juicy black cherry and boysenberry flavors along with profoundly ripe tannins, which lead to an intense and lingering black cherry aftertaste. This is like taking a midnight joy ride in a Ferrari on a curvaceous mountain road without headlights! Just hold on tight and enjoy the ride. 225 cases were produced. 96+ points (10/6/06)

2004 Quinta da Romaneira Vintage Port – This is my first VP from this property which was purchased by Christian Seely. Dark magenta colored with a purple rim this ’04 exhibits smoky and spicy notes with dominant ripe blackberry on the nose and an earthy edge. The palate shows quite differently than expected from the aromatics. The Romaneira provides lip smacking ultra-ripe, sweet grenadine and blackberry packed into a medium body with sneaky mouthcoating tannins that only appear on the invigorating and racy finish. Smooth and soft otherwise, this is a sexy Port that is only going to get better with age. 92+ points (10/6/06)

1988 Quinta da Romaneira Colheita Port – Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz grapes went into the blend. A unique profile of sugar cane, tobacco and crème brulee aromas with a bit of alcohol that dominates and gets in the way of the pleasure. Fortunately, the palate shows less of it initially, while the caramel and roasted nut flavors prevail. However, the aftertaste is also marred by spirit. 1988 is not a vintage known for Port, yet this was mostly enjoyable but I don’t know if the alcohol will ever fully integrate. Drink now- 2012. 86 points (10/6/06)

1962 Quinta do Noval Crusted Port – Light ruby-pink in color and bottled either in 1965 or 1966. This was a better showing than last year, although that time it followed the ’62 Nacional, here it had the daunting task of coming on the heels of the 1994 Nacional. Ouch. A full arsenal of raspberry brown sugar and toffee explode on the scene. Slightly past peak, this is still such a sublime experience and a rare one for Americans as we never see old Crusted Port like this. Elegant red berry and caramel notes and decent acidity work to charm the palate while the fully resolved tannins are a non entity. Medium body weight and tasty overall with a solid finish. I’d suggest to start to drink up if you still own any. 91 points (10/6/06)

1963 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port – Vintage Port wine at its zenith! It was so captivating; I opened one of my own on New Years Eve for my friends. This is Marilyn Monroe at her peak: sleek, confident and with curves in all the right places. Forget aromatics and flavor descriptors as this is in a different league. It seems like it can be had now, but it will age indefinitely. There’s that gorgeous spine of acidity and lively tannins which are omnipresent yet lurking around the corner. The balance is acrobatic by nature with sumptuous fruit that lingers like a sweet dream. Drink now or through 2050. We’re talking about one of the greatest VPs ever made! 99+ points (10/6/06)

1964 Quinta do Noval Colheita Port – I recently had the 1974 which was excellent and this rivaled that bottle, for sure. Orange-amber in color, the nose was intense with gorgeous hazelnut liqueur and a citrus peel fragrance that had me pretty jazzed at the time. Extraordinarily smooth and silky with an enchanting combination of vibrant acidity, pralines and liquid butterscotch with a finish, that never actually did. If it sounds amazing, find a bottle! Drink now-2020. 94 points (10/6/06)

1964 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port – Best showing of any bottle of ’64 Nacional I have ever had (only 3x before). Normally this is simple and lacks any excitement. I found this bottle provided a light ruby color with some bricking on the edge and a nose of strawberry, licorice and dried leaves. The palate was equally complex with black cherry, spearmint and candied walnuts which sound like an odd mix, but it actually delivered one of the more elegant drinks of the evening as this was unctuous and fully mature. It was a nearly perfectly balanced Port with the only minor blemish, a slight touch of alcohol protruding on the long and intricate finish. Otherwise it was stunning! Drink now for maximum pleasure and hope your bottle is as pristine as this one. 93 points (10/6/06)

1994 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port – Brilliant gem quality dark ruby color with clarity. OMG! How could we possibly be served a 2007 cask sample? Seriously, I have tried this on a number of occasions and it continues to be the greatest young Vintage Port I’ve ever had. Each time I drink it I feel blessed to take part in sharing the bottle. The symmetry stands out as the single most exemplary characteristic of this VP. The nose needed no coaxing with violets and blueberries dominating all else. I had the sense of the power of this wine, yet there was a refined quality at the same time that is hard to describe. It was not elegance as much as finesse, if that makes sense. It is a stylistic distinction and this baby epitomizes verve. The copious quantities of ripe raspberry, raisins and figs startled my mouth and the well-defined acidity helped set the stage for the freight train length of an aftertaste that left a sense of caressing tannins and a hint of pomegranate. Superlatives just don’t do justice to this legend-in-the-making! 190 cases produced. Drink anytime you can get your hands on a sip or a bottle during the course of your lifetime, as this will still be fantastic a century from now. 99+ points (10/6/06)

1996 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port – From a fairly unexciting vintage that turned out well due in part to a late harvest, the ’96 is a solid soldier. I have a feeling that it will emerge later in life to show as well as the 1967 Nacional does today, from another oft forgotten vintage. It has a bouquet of floral and prune notes with a minty character that added intricacy to the profile. Soft and smooth as well-worn leather gloves, while delivering dark plum, dates and milk chocolate flavors. It was in need of aeration and really took awhile to open up, but when it did … it finished a bit short. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it. 285 cases produced. Drink now-2035. 95+ points (10/6/06)

1997 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port – This Nacional has pizzazz. The nose had me worried initially with a slightly reductive note that translated into sweet sun-dried tomatoes. Fortunately the palate made up for the perceived aromatic shortcomings and possessed bright and vibrant flavors of boysenberry and blueberry that were tasty and as youthful as a cask sample. The textural pleasure is hard to beat and the only place this has to go … is up! The backbone is finely meshed and the finish is berry laden and sweet, not to mention that it could give the Eveready bunny a run for its life. Drink 2015-2072 and then revaluate if it will make it to the century mark. It is clearly one of the great young Nacionals from the early days of Seely’s reign. 97+ points (10/6/06)

2004 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port – Rich magenta color with fine aromas of cassis, tar and cocoa with a backdrop of alcohol. Dense, ripe and chewy with dark berry fruit but lacks some tannins which might be hiding bit I did not sense any present, yet this had not been decanted ahead of time. Softer style for mid-term aging while the 2000 and 2003s stay buried in the cellar. Only 1000 cases produced. Drink 2018-2030. 92 points (10/6/06)

2006 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port (Lagar sample) – My “tasting note” is mostly written tongue in cheek, as this is not even wine yet, no less a Vintage Port. I am willing to bet that very few have ever been privileged to sip NACIONAL juice directly from the lagar, shortly after it was foot trodden. Remarkably delicious as grape juice, an ultra-pure essence of grape hits home in the mouth. Smooth as silk and still cool from its time in the lagar on this night, we were in the right place at the right time. Thank Christian, this was a fantastic sensorial experience. As 2006 is the vintage that signifies the 250th anniversary of the demarcation of the Douro region, I opined to Mr. Seely that THIS is the Nacional that should be bottled in specially designed Magnums (a first for Nacional). I know that I’d buy one as a memento of this visit. We’ll see what happens. n/r (10/6/06)


2003 Quinta do Portal Grande Reserva Douro Red – Fine aromatics of tar, cedar, char and blackberry show great promise. The palate does not live up to the nose though and delivers a slightly coarse texture and although the cherry and blackberry essence is tasty, the clipped finish left me looking for more, and maybe that was because I knew the price point of 35 Euros. Hopefully this will flesh out in time. Drink 2008-2012. 84+ points (10/7/06)

2003 Quinta do Portal Touriga Nacional Douro Red – A fine mix of anise, plum and smoky dark fruits. Solid body weight and plenty of structure in this baby. The blueberry and prune flavors pull no punches and the intense punishing tannins ordered my mouth to lock down. I wouldn’t try another one for at least three if not five years. Fortunately there is plenty of fruit here but at the moment it is dominated by the power of the tannins. For 21 Euros it is worth the gamble, but this might be best to consume circa 2012-2015. 86+ points (10/7/06)

2003 Quinta do Portal Aura Douro Red – This smells like a tank sample with dominant SO2 and a grapy essence. On the palate there is plenty of fruit showing in the dark profile but this another Portal red that is dominated by tannins with a coarse texture and offers little in the way of pleasure at this point. However, more than the last two wines, (’03 Touriga Nacional and the Grande Reserva) there does seem to be a bit more symmetry between the fruit the acid and the massive tannins. Try this again towards the latter part of the drinking window and I think it will turn out a generous wine. This is my first time trying the Aura and it is going to be priced at around 46 Euros. Drink 2012-2018. 89+ points (10/7/06)

2000 Quinta do Portal LBV Port – Dark ruby in color, this LBV is packed with vibrant, juicy cassis and blackberry fruit that is smooth on entry and easy to sip. It is already drinking nicely and provides a medium body and just a touch of heat on the delicious long aftertaste. Portal’s LBV is Unfiltered and unfined. Priced at 16 Euros per 750 ml. Drink 2007-2010 90+ points (10/7/06)

2001 Quinta do Portal LBV Port – Bigger and bolder than the 2000 LBV, this is even more approachably soft, yet the solid core of acidity and riper tannins provide more structure which will allow this to cellar for a few more years. But, there is no reason to do so, as the 2001 is so very drinkable now. The balance here is impeccable and the generous grenadine flavored juice is mouthwatering. Portal’s LBV is Unfiltered and unfined. Drink 2007-2013. 92+ points (10/7/06)

2003 Quinta do Portal LBV Port – (Cask Sample) Plum and cinnamon spice show prominently on the nose of this youngster which is a year away from release. The dark cherry and boysenberry flavors burst onto the palate and take no prisoners. Most producers would be proud to call this Vintage Port. Yummy stuff with monster tannins that will soften while waiting to hit the market in the future. This is the best LBV I have tasted from this producer and I have had every one of ‘em, tasted over the past five years. If I can find a case in the USA (in the future) this is the LBV I’d stock up on for the winter. Portal’s LBV is Unfiltered and unfined. Drink 2008-2015. 93+ points (10/7/06)

2003 Plus Quinta do Portal Vintage Port – Opaque dark ruby-purple with violets and fresh cut flowers which dominate the nose with a backdrop of mocha and licorice. Dense blackberry and boysenberry fruit deliver delectable flavors and there is some chocolate on the prolonged finish. The tannins seem to have mellowed a little bit in the past year. The use of eight year old Touriga Nacional vines has enabled this to be assembled for earlier consumption. That is questionable though, as the tannins are still ripe enough to show that the ’03 Portal Plus will cellar quite well for up to a couple more decades. Drink 2010-2025ish. 92+ points (10/7/06)

2003 Quinta do Portal Vintage Port – Impenetrable inky tone. A complex core of leather, anise, chocolate, brambly berries and earthy scents make this one of those rare treats to keep sniffing and going back to smell again and again. Chewy, ripe and massively built; this 2003 shows only slight evolution since it was a cask sample. It’s an intense sexy beast with dark cherry and cassis fruit that is smooth in the mouth, but really takes grip when the tannins become aggressive late in the game. As good as this all sounds, the strong suit was the incredible and enduring aftertaste. Drink from 2015-2040 but the longer you hold off, the more pleasure you’ll receive. 95+ points (10/7/06)

2004 Quinta do Portal Vintage Port – Tasted directly after the tannic 2003, this was hard to assess. There was a significant “tanky” smell to this wine along with blossoming violets. Very primary blueberry and boysenberry fruit that is countered by massive tannins. Not up to the greatness of the 2003, but a hedonistic well adorned VP with fine length and promise for cellaring. Best to drink between 2025-2035, unless you like ‘em young. 93+ points (10/7/06)

1999 Quinta do Portal Vintage Port – Magenta color. It’s such a harmonious Vintage Port and if this were offered in my neck of the woods, I’d own a case of it. Light and lovely scents of lavender and anise with dark cherry notes. It offers a medium body weight and is more like a super LBV in style. Who cares? It is delicious with chocolate covered raisins and cherry fruit that is uber-smooth and with underpinnings of acidity and round tannins to keep it all in synch. I knew that if Portal could deliver this much pleasure in a vintage like 1999, greatness was just around the corner … and it was! Drink 2010-2022. 92+ points (10/7/06)


2003  Ribeira das Canadas  Vinho Rose  Douro – Made from Touriga Franca and Nacional, along with Tinta Barroca and Roriz the vast majority of the 10,000 liters of this wine is exported to France.  Showing a vibrant raspberry red color, it is fresh and light bodied, with tart rhubarb flavors that are quite dry with good minerality and a bit more sweet fruit emanates on the finish.  A pleasant summer quaffer that we had a number of times during my visit. 84 points (6-23-06)

2000  Dorna Velha  Tinta Barroca  Douro red – Spicy cinnamon and smoky notes added intrigue to the aromatics, youthful for a six year old, smooth on the palate, well-balanced and easy to drink now.  I enjoyed this even more with food which brought forth an even longer finish. 89 points (6-23-06)

2005  Dorna Velha  Tinta Barroca  Douro red – Strawberry and floral nose, very straight forward on the palate with good balance and smooth texture.  I enjoyed the dark cherry and mocha flavors here that were supported by round tannins that showed up on the medium length finish. 89 points (6-24-06)

1998  Dorna Velha  Tinta Roriz  Colheita Seleccionada  Douro red – Medium ruby color.  Provides exotic scents of ripe watermelon and fresh cut flowers.  From the nose I had no idea what to expect, but this was filled with intense flavors of plum and ripe blackberry.  Enjoyable now but I think it will even be better in another year or two.  This is a big, brash and sumptuous Douro wine with the backbone to keep it around for years to come and the seamless mouth feel and a superb finish.  One of the Quinta’s best reds.   92+ points (6-24-06)

2000  Dorna Velha  Colheita Seleccionada  Douro red – No longer just Tinta Roriz, this also has Barroca, Touriga Nacional and Franca.  This is of a quality level just below the Reserva and it spends only six months in oak vs. the Reserva which receives nine months in cask.  Dark ruby color and offering up a smoky, plum, spice and mocha aromatic profile.  I enjoyed the prune and cassis flavors of this wine but found the texture a bit coarse.  Mild tannins are present on the persistent finish that ends with a chocolate note.  Drink now – 2010.   90+ points (6-26-06)

2003  Dorna Velha  Colheita Seleccionada  Douro red – Medium ruby color.  This was the last red wine I had at Quinta do Silval and it was quite tasty with lunch.  Earthy nose with strawberry and raspberry aromas.  Very smooth on the palate and this shows great promise, with grenadine and plum flavors combining with the great textural pleasure.  The tannins are aggressive but round and this wine finishes with great length.  It is quite approachable today but I’d cellar these for at least five years and possibly ten.   92+ points (6-26-06)

1998  Dorna Velha  Reserva  Douro red – I was very much looking forward to trying this wine that was touted by Decanter Magazine.  Medium ruby color.  It offers layered dark berry fruit and is quite dry on the palate, with a medium weight and lush mouth feel.  It delivers mild, fully resolved tannins and a long tasty finish.  90 points (6-25-06)

2000  Dorna Velha  Reserva  Douro red – Clearly my favorite Douro wine tasted during my visit.  Dark violet-ruby opaque appearance.  Smoky plum and blackberry aromatics with just a slight scent of vanilla.  Young and vibrant, ripe dark berry fruit with a rich palate presence and a simply extraordinary balance and fine tuned structure.  I suggest cellaring this massive wine for three more years, as it is destined to improve and reward patience, although it is great today.  A delicious and persistent finish.   93+ points (6-25-06)

2005  Dorna Velha  “Duet”  Douro red (Cask Sample) – Mostly Tinta Roriz and some Tinta Cão added as well.  Purplish ruby color.  Spicy strawberry and raspberry scents fill the glass.  The crisp acidity and round tannins make this cask sample very approachable right now, though it will be bottled in August.  Very tasty with a lot of upside potential!   91+ points (6-25-06)

2005  Dorna Velha  Touriga Franca  Douro red (Cask Sample) – Fully opaque magenta color.  Blueberry and mocha notes are striking.  This baby delivers ripe cassis, plum and boysenberry flavors that meld to provide a full-bodied beauty.  The aftertaste shows a sweet chocolate nuance and supple tannins.  Drink now or in five years, either way it is a well-made single casta wine.   92+ points (6-25-06)

Magalhães Tawny Port – This was never commercially released and is only consumed with family members and friends. The cuvee is an aggregate age of nearly 20 years old. Served chilled, this was a delightful way to finish dinner my first evening at Silval. Light bodied and elegant, there was some caramel and butterscotch notes and very silky mouth feel. The finish was a bit clipped and there was a bit of alcohol that protruded on the aftertaste.  86 points (6-23-06)

1999 Magalhães LBV Port – Dark ruby center and a light pink edge. Ripe red berry centric aromas. Medium bodied and soft, easy-to-drink approachability make this LBV a delight to roll around in the mouth. Raspberry and Grenadine syrup flavors with very gentle tannins that are barely noticeable on the lengthy finish. The smooth texture is a standout in this Port. 91+ points (6-24-06)

2001 Magalhães LBV Port – Not bad for a EUR 12 bottle. Dark cranberry color with a ruby rim. A mélange of golden raisins, red licorice and black currant kept me sniffing away. Very enjoyable nose here with a soft approach and light-medium weight. Very delicate with flavors of black cherry and plum fruit. A simple mid-palate and shorter length to the finish than the 1999.  89 points (6-24-06)

2002 Magalhães LBV Port – Talk about bargains, at 12 Euros this is a steal. Full opacity and inky black-dark magenta meniscus. Initially very tightly wound aromas that needed coaxing with lots of swirling to fresh violets and a touch of tobacco leaf. Delicious sweet mouthful of full-bodied blackberry fruit with excellent acidity and prominent tannins that provide the stunning balance of this LBV that shows fine complexity on the mid-palate. The finish is long, sweet and unctuous. Grab a case if you can find it! Only 1000 cases were produced. 93+ pionts (6-24-06)

1985 Magalhães Vintage Port – This VP was the first made by Magalhães at Quinta do Silval, albeit never commercially released. Light ruby centered with an orange rim. Tobacco and harsh alcohol on the nose. Fortunately the palate is showing significantly better in comparison. Medium-full body weight, this is a soft and elegant wine that has passed its peak. At twenty one years old, it was an interesting glimpse into the early days of winemaking at Quinta do Silval. 86 points (6-25-06)

2000 Magalhães Vintage Port – Opaque dark inky purplish-black. Wow, is this a youngster and it’s delivering all of the goods already. Cherry and primary plum aromas are gorgeous here and the palate is even better. Fantastic in terms of the structural components that are totally in synch, yet the upside potential of this wine is measured in decades. Put away a case of this black beauty and enjoy the blueberry and plum fruit that is brimming with sweet juice and delivers powerful tannic grip and an absolutely sublime aftertaste. The Magalhães 2000-2003 VPs are made up of 70-80% Touriga Nacional and the balance is Touriga Franca. My favorite of all Ports tasted today. 93+ points (6-25-06)

2002 Magalhães Vintage Port – Opaque purplish ruby. Young in appearance and the fresh floral nose along with prunes and dark cherry fruit was intriguing. This showed more tart flavors than the 2003 but it is still very much in a fruit forward style with the dominant purity of under ripe black cherries and plum. Light to medium-bodied, with tannins that provide a wake up call on the modest aftertaste. This VP came from a difficult harvest with few producers releasing their wines.  87 points (6-25-06)

2003 Magalhães Vintage Port – Opaque ruby color and a reticent nose that took awhile to show some plum, mint and intriguing baked apple and cinnamon aromas. Once this did open up the complex aromas really came to the fore. Lots of glycerin present in this VP along with plum and cassis flavors and an incredibly smooth mouthfeel. The mid-palate was a bit hollow and I believe this would have benefited from a few hours of decanting. The tannins were mild and the formidable finish was the strongpoint of this wine. It would be best to revisit another bottle in six months. 86+ points (6-25-06)

2004 Magalhães Vintage Port – This VP is the only one produced from a single variety, in this case Touriga Franca. Opaque black/violet with a dark ruby edge. Surprisingly after looking at this dark brooding wine, it only showed a light to medium body weight which I believe is due to the Franca. The ‘04 shows a very approachable style considering it has not been released as of yet. Soft, ripe and sweet boysenberry flavor is fun to drink, albeit quite straightforward, if not a bit simple. Nonetheless, the structure is sounds with full bore acidity and tannins that are not shy and appear late on the aftertaste and disguised by the overt fruit of this VP. I’d suggest drinking this between 10-12 years old. 89 points (6-25-06)

Quinta da Brunheda

2005 Brunheda Colheita Douro White – Grapefruit and lime zest offer light citrus filled aromas. Medium bodied and a smooth, clean expression of Douro fruit with no signs of oak. Quite enjoyable. A bit simple, but at 8 Euros that is not an issue. Well made and will drink best now through 2010. 84 points (10/7/06)

2004 Vinha da Pala Reserva Douro White – From the Pala vineyard comes this very attractive and well-balanced Douro White wine. Generous nose of ripe pineapple. Rich and well-endowed body weight with a sumptuous and appealing symmetry, making this fun to roll around in the mouth. Quite ripe and in possession of a solidly defined acidic structure that keeps this in synch and leads to a fine lengthy finish. Only 1,000 cases produced and it sells for 35 Euros in country. One of the better white wines I have had on the trip. Drink 2007-2012. 91 points (10/7/06)

2000 Brunheda Reserva Douro White – Sadly I missed which specific grapes went into the cuvee here, but I did hear that these were older white grape varieties that don’t get used all that often. Rich and full-bodied and clearly this is up there with some of the fine Niepoort whites in terms of the overall quality. I really liked this beauty which was dense and complex with a beautiful mid-palate, a mix of citrus and tropical fruits and an oily, pleasurable texture. I wish this was sold in the USA! Only 500 cases produced and it sells for 40 Euros in country. Drinks beautifully now but has the power, fruit and structure to drink very well through 2015. 94+ points (10/7/06)

2003 Brunheda Vinha Velhas Douro Red – These old vines average about 80 years old and consist of Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cao, Sauzao and Touriga Franca. This shows very young with a floral bouquet leading to a lavender nose and it shows a spicy note with a touch of plum fruit. Quite viscous and a big wine that is showing a bit too much alcohol and if it integrates in time, this will be a very fine drink. The tannins are fairly rounded and even subdued, so I’d give it another 3 years before I’d even taste it again to let the alcohol integrate. Drink 2010-2018. 92 points (10/7/06)

2000 Brunheda Vinha Velhas Douro Red – Magnum bottles are always fun to try, especially with bottles that have some age on them. This was far more open and ready for biz than the 2000 Vinhas Velhas. That said, it will drink better with another year or two under its belt. Mostly red fruits on the nose with a touch of prune too. I liked this and it showed well with our food. A bit dry in profile with rhubarb and tart raspberry showing some coarsely textured fruit and huge level of acidity. I think the 2003 is a significantly better wine. Drink 2008-2012. 89 points (10/7/06)

Quinta da Vista Alegre

2003 Vallegre Douro Red – What a nice way to start off with Miguel’s wine paired with the fine Degusto dinner. There is an earthy essence to the dark berry fruits in this harmonious drink. Very enjoyable and the seamless balance between the fruit and acid were matched by ripe but round tannins that showed the ability to age, while delivering a pretty silky and dense mouth feel. Drink 2010-2018. 93 points (10/7/06)

2001 Val da Corça Douro Red – Very aromatic with blackberry, cassis and earthy notes with a touch of licorice. A dark berry flavor profile with prunes and blackberry fruit is very tasty with a medium-body style and just a slight hint of oak. Ripe and ready to drink now with a seemingly soft underbelly and a long satisfying aftertaste. I liked this wine and it is well made, but there are many other less expensive options in this quality range. 800 cases produced, it currently sells for about 125 Euros. Drink 2007-2012. 92 points (10/7/06)

2004 Vista Alegre Douro Red – Violets, red berry nose and a bit grapey. Full-bodied and potent acidity, possibly too much here. Some heat on the palate but otherwise it is easy to approach initially. The medium length finish brings on some astringent tannins and a bit of spirit too. I can’t see the forest through the trees with this wine. Will it ever mesh? Drink 2010-2016. 84 points (10/7/06)

2003 Vista Alegre Douro Red – What a difference a year makes. I like this considerably more than the younger 2004 bottling. This offers a better nose of blackberry, cassis, mocha and a really earthy pungency that I loved. This is a big wine with a lot of promise. The structural components are focused and the fruit is bright, and with stylish boysenberry and blackberry flavors that dominate the palate. Nice length on the finish which also shows spirit. Drink 2009-2018. 91 points (10/7/06)

2000 Vista Alegre Vintage Port – This is dark magenta in color, brooding and well balanced. Floral, grenadine and alcohol notes come to the fore on the nose. On the palate the cassis and vanilla are wrapped in moderately ripe tannins and are big and juicy. This Alegre shows too much spirit on the finish and in time it should integrate. A solid Port built for mid term aging. Drink 2007-2018. 90 points (10/7/06)

1997 Quinta da Vista Alegre Vintage Port – Dark ruby color that provides the essence of grenadine, violets and a smoky note. The palate is good but a tad simple on the mid-palate even though there are flavors of boysenberry, a roasted taste as well as blackberry that I enjoyed. Very tasty but the mouth feel is slightly coarse and the finish has some heat which seems disjointed at this point in time. Just a little less impressive than most from the class of 1997 VPs. Drink 2008-2020. 88 points (10/7/06)

Vista Alegre Old White Port – This White Port is a blend of juice from 1966 and 10 year old white Port. It is aged in wood for at least 20 years old, but this specific cuvee averaged 25 years old. The Old White started out very tight and it took awhile for this to open up. But once it did, it was as bright as the North Star. Amber-orange in color with a tawny rim, this looked as intriguing as it smelled. Dried peach, mahogany and toasted almonds deliver an expansive fragrance. Light bodied with polished acidity that provides the strong skeletal structure of this beauty, delicate and dry in style. A smooth and silky mouth feel with apricot flavors along with superb liquid butterscotch and caramel that lead to a famously long and extraordinary aftertaste. Drink now-2020. 94 points (10/7/06)

2004 Vista Alegre Over 40 year old Tawny Port – A fine example of a really well made 40 year old Tawny. Light bodied and elegant in style, but well poised due to the ample acidity level. There is a citrus edge, caramel and pralines that really stand out on the palate. Delicious and focused with a really wonderful texture that rivaled the multi-layered flavors. The finish was complex and there was an intriguing espresso bean and citrus peel dynamic on the aftertaste. Drink 2007-2015. 93 points (10/7/06)

Would you like to read about the entire 2006 Harvest Tour?

2006 Harvest Tour Part One describes visits to Lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia, including Vasconcellos, Kopke, Vinologia, Cálem, Sandeman and Ramos Pinto as well as dinner at the Oporto Restaurant

2006 Harvest Tour Part Two describes visits to the Niepoort Lodge and to Symington Family Estates in Gaia, and dinner at the restaurant Presuntisco.

2006 Harvest Tour Part Three describes the visits to Douro Quintas including Quinta do Crasto, Quinta de Vargellas, Quinta do Vesuvio, Quinta Vale Dona Maria, Quinta do Noval, Quinta do Portal and Quinta do Silval.

2006 Harvest Tour Part Four describes the closing dinner at the restaurant De Gusto in Porto, together with the winemakers and wines from Quinta da Brunheda.

2006 Harvest Tour Part Five consolidates the 193 tasting notes from the other four articles into one document for easy reference.