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10 September, 2019

The 2017 Vintage Port Preview Tasting

Posted in : Dessert Wine, Port, Wine on by : becca

2017 Vintage Port, tasting notes, wine tasting, port, Little did I know that when we convened for the 2016 Vintage Port tasting, another Vintage Port declaration would follow in 2017. I was surprised to find an invitation to attend this year’s preview tasting in my inbox, and I can safely say that the pre-eminent Port producers represented — Symington, Fladgate, and Quinta do Noval — were just as surprised to extend it. Obligatory disclaimer: Participation in this industry tasting was entirely free to me.

2017 Vintage Port, tasting notes, wine tasting, port, rupert symintong, charles symington, david guimarens, adrian bridge, carlos agrellos, dominic symington

L to R: Rupert Symington, Charles Symington, David Guimarens, Adrian Bridge, Carlos Agrellos, Dominic Symington

Rarely has a back-to-back declaration of vintage ports been made, but 2017 had all the same hallmarks of an extraordinary year for Port grape production as 2016. Even better, according to our hosts. Extreme drought and heat caused every step of grape farming to be completed early. For the Symington family, it was their earliest harvest on record. Such dry conditions yield lower quantities and higher concentration of flavor within the grapes that are brought to harvest. Both contribute greatly to the value of the wine produced and to their potential for excellent aging, which Port is well known for any given year, not just Vintage ones.

How much is Vintage Port valued?

2017 Vintage Port, tasting notes, wine tasting, port, san francisco, hotel nikko

Enough for tastings to occur in San Francisco meeting rooms with excellent views.

The producers indicated that their 2017 Vintage Ports, on release, would market at $85–$250, with Quinta do Noval Nacional going for a whopping $820 per bottle. At the time of our tasting, most of the wines had not yet been commercially bottled — they are slated to go on sale this fall. With aging, those prices will only go up…and up…and up.

So this a true preview of my favorites from among the 2017 Vintage Ports that will soon be available. If you pick up any of these bottles, do invite me over for a glass when you’re ready to crack them open. 😉 I can’t afford them!

The Winners’ Circle:

Quinta Da Romaneira 2017 Vintage Port

Made from Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca grapes, this Port offered a strong nose of Bing cherry and candied Meyer lemon. The lemon’s sweetness carried into the glass, where vanilla balanced it enough to allow the cherry its moment to shine.

Quinta Do Vesuvio 2017 Vintage Port

2017 Vintage Port, port, porto, tasting notes, wine tasting, quinta do vesuvioThis one’s for the ginger lovers, which I’m not always. But here, it contributes an alluring candy nose that brightens the plum notes. A very smooth sip transitions to layers that build like a Jenga game. I can’t see where all the pieces are placed yet, but I want to, when aged to completion.

Quinta Do Noval 2017 Vintage Port

This one will be a crowd pleaser, with its licorice, milk chocolate, and cherry notes. It doesn’t need many layers to shine, though aging will undoubtedly yield some. As is, a grassy quality gives it enough personality to soar.

Runners Up:

Krohn 2017 Vintage Port

The nose is filled with apricot, huckleberry, and gooseberry headed toward ripeness. The glass goes deeper, into roasted marmalade spread on a warm strawberry scone. Cardamom and soft pepper are sprinkled over the top, and almond finishes the bite.

Dow’s 2017 Vintage Port

2017 Vintage Port, port, porto, tasting notes, wine tasting, dow's 2017 vintage portA floral nose of rockrose, violets, and hyacinth. The Dow’s is very mellow and equally pleasing despite what might appear to be an overabundance of ripe, rich strawberries and cherries and a dash of vanilla essence. Cardamom accents those notes, and the floral elements keep them all in check.

Taylor Fladgate Vargellas Vinha Velha 2017 Vintage Port

2017 Vintage Port, port, porto, tasting notes, wine tasting, taylor fladgate, vargellas vinha velhaCassis and peach create a yin-yang dynamic in the nose and glass. Maple and marjoram would like to tease that harmony out into a four-way balance. Perhaps, with age, they will.

Fonseca 2017 Vintage Port

2017 Vintage Port, port, porto, tasting notes, wine tasting, fonsecaThis port struck me as so unique, I needed to return to it to evaluate my first impressions. The nose was all bark and soil. In the glass, I longed for an Indonesian curry’s lemongrass or steamed banana leaf over rice to complement it. A Hawaiian lau lau would do just as well, or perhaps a sticky rice dessert. The fruit is there, but those herbal, tropical notes are what most seduced me.

The Analysis:

Buy these Vintage Ports if you can afford them! Interestingly, over this year’s tasting and the last, there were not many repeats among my favorites. Perhaps that speaks to the vastly different profiles the two Vintage Years produced. However, Quinta Do Noval’s aged and young offerings were certainly highlights of both experiences. Enjoy your swirling and sipping!

I hope you find this summary useful in making your 2017 Vintage Port purchases as they become available this fall.

Tasting took place 9 May 2019.

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