Expressive, with a wave of pure creamed plum, blackberry and blueberry fruit gliding through atop enticing anise and milk chocolate notes. Velvety, caressing finish makes it hard to see the graphite structure here, but it's there. Suave finish too. Will be hard to lay off this one in its youth, but it's destined for terrific development. Drinking range: 2032 - 2055 Rating: 97 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator (Dec 2020)
75cl bottles (wood case of 6)
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While Charles Symington and the family concluded that the overall quality of the vintage was not sufficient for a blanket declaration it is clear that very small quantities of top wines from their various estates are thrillingly concentrated and utterly delicious and so these Single Quinta Vintage Ports will represent 2018 very strongly indeed. I can sense that legions of parents with new-born babies will breathe a collective sigh of relief. 2018 Quinta do Vesuvio is superbly aromatic and perfumed with tender, juicy, black-fruited tones augmented with spiciness, mintiness, woodsmoke and masses of energy. There is always a wildness and savagery which I adore in Vesuvio and these traits are heightened in 2018. But while these flamboyant notes are eye-catching, the fruit still holds court and it presents a seemingly forward and uncommonly appealing wine. Less muscular and more pliable than expected this immediacy is both alluring and attractive. With less grunt and more suave, honed fruit, this is more a gentleman rogue than Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. Forward and thoroughly alluring this is a delicious wine which will flatter in its youth but I know it has the power and poise to run, hence the ‘+’ in my score, and I don’t doubt that it will make the 30-year mark with ease. Drinking range: 2028 - 2050 Rating: 18.5+ Matthew Jukes www.matthewjukes.com (Jul 2020)
The 2018 Vintage Port is a blend of 54% Touriga Nacional and 40% Touriga Franca and Alicante Bouschet combined, with miscellaneous others filling out the blend. It comes in with 112 grams of residual sugar. This is one of the two Ports being released en primeur now by the Symingtons in this issue. If you are judging the group on concentration and power, this is easily the winner, the one with the biggest upside. There are some other points to make, though. You may like the style of some others more. Inky black, it is also probably the most concentrated Port in the group, although it doesn't seem to quite scale the heights of, say, the 2017. The signature features here will be the pungent aromatics and the big, ripe fruit. Actually, it is not only big in flavor, it's a little flamboyant. There is a nuance on the finish that makes it seem especially ripe; it will be interesting to see if that folds into the whole in time. The baked plums up front suggest very ripe Touriga Nacional, in particular. Then, the hammer falls, and this shows off a fair bit of power too, especially the next day. It was by far, also, the 2018 in this article that was most on top of its game when tasted a couple of days later. It will be interesting to see where this goes. It certainly has potential. There were 965 cases produced. Drinking range: 2028 - 2065 Rating: 92-94 Mark Squires, robertparker.com (Jun 2020)
The 2018 Quinta do Vesuvio has a plush bouquet of black fruit laced with clove, nougat, boysenberry jam and white pepper. I would have liked a little more precision here. The palate is medium-bodied with impressive spicy attack on the entry - cracked black pepper and bitter orange, touches of liquorice and mint towards the well structured finish. Moderate length. A quality Vesuvio that deserves several years in bottle. Drinking range: 2030 - 2065 Rating: 93 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Jun 2020)
A blend of 54% Touriga Nacional, 40% Touriga Franca / Alicante Bouschet (co-fermented) and 6% Sousão (for freshness), predominantly from cooler north / north-west facing vineyards: beautifully lifted, scented floral aromas (rose petals), vinous and overt; sweet and suave initially, ripe but gentle blackberry fruit backed by velvety tannins leading to a finish that is both powerful and elegant at the same time. Wonderful freshness and vitality. A magnificent wine for drinking over the medium to long term. Just 965 cases produced representing 3% of the quinta’s total production. 19 Rating: 19 Richard Mayson, www.richardmayson.com (Jun 2020)
Quinta do Vesuvio
2018 was a complicated vintage in the Douro, described by the Symington family as ‘a rollercoaster’ climatically, yet the resulting wines are looking remarkably good. Largely this will be a year for the Single Quintas – and not a ‘general Declaration’ by all. Had they all gone for it - this would have been the third year on the trot for a full Declaration and this has never happened before. You could even sense some unease at the release of 2016 & 2017 back to back (both wonderful and worthy vintages) this double-whammy had not happened since 1872-73! So perhaps for 2018 it was never going to be - whatever the quality of the year – who knows, only time will tell.
So far we have only tasted the fantastic 2018 release from Quinta do Romaneira – and it really is brilliant, showing the vintage clearly had what was needed to make great Port. If you survived the long winter drought, the serious hail in April and the damp Spring – the long, hot summer was excellent for maturing the fruit. Undeniably, it was a hot year – but this is becoming common in the Douro and producers know just how to handle it. Clever vine canopy management, plot by plot harvesting at just the right moment for each parcel and gentle handling in the cellar, are all tools helping winemakers tame the sizzling heat.
A ‘not so general Declaration' can be a great opportunity for buyers and drinkers. Great Houses releasing ports from their Single Quintas in a great vintage often spells value and 2018 is looking very promising.
So promising in fact that some big names have not been able to resist declaring their 'Classic Wines'. Sandeman have released a 2018 – but they did not declare in 2017 – so for them this is not ‘three on the bounce’ – and Taylor are releasing a 2018, but they will hold on until next year.
Adrian Bridge who heads up Taylor and Fonseca told us:
“Although a Classic declaration normally only happens about three times a decade, the exceptional run of years has meant that Taylor’s is able to make a third in a row. This is very unusual but our principle is that we only declare a Classic Vintage when the quality is there and this is dictated by the year, not by any other consideration. Indeed, in view of the economic situation in which we find ourselves, we will bottle in July as usual but will not offer the wines until early 2021”
We are delighted to offer (for now) the following small selection of excellent Vintage Ports. Not only will these prove fantastic drinking in the coming decades – but Vintage Ports are also one of the best mementos of a special year. With the life in them to mature gracefully for at least 20 years, a case of one of these could be the most wonderful present for any children or god-children born in 2018.
Some of these are in very limited supply – so please let us know what you would like and we will do our very best to secure it for you.
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 (2018) 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
The Lea & Sandeman Team