Top Portuguese Vintage Port

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Although it accounts for only about two percent of production, vintage port is the flagship wine of Portugal. It is made entirely from the grapes of a declared vintage year, and the vintage has to be favorable enough (considering the conditions) to produce a fine and lasting wine. The decision on whether to declare a vintage is made in the spring of the second year following the harvest.

Here are some of the top vintage port wines from Portugal.

Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2003 – This fortified wine seems to improve each time it is smelled and tasted. It displays a black color and a salty, graphite-laced aroma packed with sweet black fruits. Notes of molasses, burnt sugar, spices, and jammy plums emanate from the glass. Full-bodied, immensely rich and thick, and amazingly balanced. Raisins, molasses, licorice, black cherries, plums, and a distinctive note of violets are found in its complex and seamless character. Its finish reveals additional notes of chocolate, kirsch, red and black currants, dark cherries, and rose blossoms. Pierre Rovani grades it with a score of 98 points, and it costs around $104.

Fonseca Vintage Port 1970 – Fonseca excels in their port’s magnificent complexity, intense bouquet of plum, cedar, spicy fruit, and smoky mint. This dark-colored, full-bodied fortified wine has concentrated fruit flavors and plenty of tannins. When it is young, it often loses out in blind tastings to the heavier and more tannic wines, but it gets better after 7 to 10 years of aging. Robert Parker grades it with a score of 93 points, and it costs around $225.

Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2003 – This vintage port has an amazing bouquet, with flavors of ripe fruit, chocolate, blackberries, and raisins. Full-bodied and medium sweet, this also possesses some velvety tannins. The finish goes on and on. Recommended to be taken after 2014. Wine Spectator grades it with a score of 96 points, and it costs around $94.

W & J Graham’s Vintage Port 1994 – This is almost like tasting a rich and succulent Merlot. It is sweeter and more obvious than many ports, the opaque purple-colored wine is fruity, powerful, and rich. It has an addictive hedonistic quality, and it will be ready to drink in 8 to 10 years. Robert Parker grades it with a score of 96 points, and it costs around $115.

Niepoort Vintage Port 2003 – This is a wonderful wine, with fabulous aromas of crushed blueberries and blackberries. Full-bodied, medium-sweet, and seductively silky, with a finish and goes on forever. Wine Spectator grades it with a score between 95 to 100 points, and it costs around $90.