2017 Vintage Port
You wait years for a vintage port declaration, then two come along all at once... In the conservative world of port, this is earth-shattering news. You have to go back to 1872/73 to find a back-to-back 'general' declaration, so there is clearly something pretty extraordinary about these wines.
"The decision to declare vintage ports from two consecutive years was not one taken lightly. However, these two exceptionally strong harvests have produced wines of such immense quality that we felt justified in making this historic decision." Johnny Symington
If the 2016s were elegant and fine, the 2017s are much more concentrated and intense. They are wines of real grandeur that will probably outlive us all. Johnny Symington even suggested this vintage might equal the fabled 1945 but, given the number of us who were around to taste that wine on release, we're not sure how easy this is to verify! What we do know is that, despite their natural concentration, the 2017s are beautifully balanced - the very cool nights providing welcome refreshment to the vines. Similarly, there is huge structure but the tannins are not at all aggressive, they are perfectly ripe and provide the sturdy frame necessary to support all that delicious, opulent, dark fruit.
"I have never seen a year like 2017 in my 25 years as winemaker in our family vineyards...the concentration and structure took my breath away. We have made some really remarkable wines." Charles Symington
"2017 is clearly an exceptional year, which I believe will be remembered as one of the historic Vintage Port declarations of Quinta do Noval." Christian Seely
"The 2017 vintage port is epic and a triumph, the best I’ve witnessed in all my years at Niepoort." Dirk Niepoort
If you are a port enthusiast this is simply a 'must buy' vintage. Comparing the very different personalities of the 2016s and 2017s as they evolve will be a game that never gets old. Sadly, as is so often the case with great port vintages, some yields are much reduced. Given we sold out of most 2016s within a few weeks, you may have to be quick if you don't want to miss out on this 'epic' vintage.
The Lea & Sandeman Team
Finally, because they never stop being true, some words of wisdom from Patrick Sandeman:
"The next question is whether one needs to buy and lay down vintage port at all in this day and age… Well, if, like me, you think that a dinner party is only a dinner party if you climax with a decanter of vintage port or two (otherwise it is only really a supper party), or if, like me, you decant a bottle of vintage port every Friday night during the months of November and December to drink over the week-end, then you will need at least two dozen bottles a year, and assuming that there is only one great vintage every four years, you should be buying at least eight dozen bottles. Equally, if you are of the camp that ‘no longer drinks port because it gives me a hangover’, then you too should be laying down some port for when you learn to drink less before and during dinner, and appreciate something exceptional at the end of the evening. Finally, of course, there are the (2017) babes whose God-parents, aunts and uncles, and parents should be buying at least two cases of six bottles (one to sell to help pay for the gap year in eighteen years time, the other to drink)." Patrick Sandeman