The Port vintage of 2018 was born as the two-year drought in the Douro Valley broke in March, massive amounts of heavy and sustained rain hitting the vineyards for the next ten weeks. Local erosion caused damage to the terrace walling and vineyards, while the rain inhibited flowering and damaged vines as the damp let in diseases. The silver lining was the low yield at harvest started here with fewer grapes in the bunches, then a hot summer took hold early in August which improved richness, and then fine weather through to October ensured perfect maturation.
In a nutshell this widely varying weather pattern produced grapes that were concentrated, ripe yet fresh with richness at the core. Touriga Franca, usually in the ‘chorus’ of the blend, took the lead from Touriga Nacional, bringing this juicy core and supple structure yet keeping the wines fresh on the finish. Christian Seeley of Quinta do Noval, declaring Noval for the third successive vintage, suggests the style is somewhere between 2017 with its firm side and herby aromatics and the classical, more harmonious 2016s; “2018 is firm yet harmonious, lots of finesse but plenty of exuberance,” he told us. Adrian Bridge and David Guimaraens from Taylor Fladgate agree: “This extraordinary vintage of huge fluctuations kept us all on our toes,” said David, “but the results have been fantastic, allowing us to produce these high quality Ports.” Taylor’s in particular has been fêted by the critics, and the decision to release it in February 2021 alongside Fonseca-Guimaraens and Croft’s Quinta da Roeda was an interesting one. However Adrian pointed out to us that the chance to observe and blend the wines in their second winter has given them (and us) just a little more development to evaluate, and a chance to reflect on what a magnificent set these Ports are.
We are offering various sizes, please see below, but please note that we have to submit our ‘special sizes’ request by the end of February, after which only bottles will be readily available.