2016 Vintage Port

2016 Vintage Port
Expectation for the quality of 2016 vintage ports has been sky high. With the major houses deciding not to declare the widely acclaimed 15s, the unspoken suggestion was that the 2016s were a clear step up in quality. We have now tasted all of the major 2016 releases and we’re convinced that these ports represent something very special indeed. They are powerful but also lyrical, with flavours that are long, persistent and palate staining but also layered and lifted. They have sweet ripe tannic profiles and fantastic freshness, despite the warm dry growing season. And they possess very clear house characters; Graham’s all sweet long opulence, Taylors taut poised composure, Dow’s magisterial drive and aristocracy, Warres floral schisty elegance or Fonseca’s rich dark sweetness – they are all represented as you’d want them, framed in a vintage that has provided power and freshness in equal measure. Some of the more experienced in our ranks sense they may be modern day rivals to the great vintages of ‘63 or ‘70. Certainly there’s an awful lot to get excited about…

The growing season was preceded by an exceptionally wet winter and spring, a crucial start to what was to become a hot and dry summer. Temperatures in both August and September hit the 40s and had it not been for two perfectly timed bouts of rain, the vintage could have become known for raisins and not much else. As it was, these perfect doses of precipitation provided the ultimate fillip to vines grown weary from the warm dry summer. Picking had just begun when the second dose of rain arrived on the 12th and 14th September. At this point, most quality conscious estates took the calculated risk to stop and wait, holding out for brilliance, or nothing at all. As it was, this rain was to prove the pivotal moment in propelling this vintage from the good to the potentially legendary - it provided not only a refreshing boost to the grapes’ final journey to full maturity, but also heralded a period of calm, warm days and cool nights; the perfect conditions for the leisurely harvest of perfectly ripe grapes. After a very long hang time, the final days of harvest occurred on the 12th and 13th October. Imbued with the richness of a warm season and the complexity and deftness of a slow maturing late harvest, these 2016s are not to be missed.

‘Picking as late as we did in 2016, knowing that we would still be harvesting well into October, was a very significant risk. To have subsequently worked through this entire period without a drop of rain and with warm sunshine, picking as and when we chose, was hugely gratifying. The wines are big, aromatic and balanced and it would surprise no one if 2016 was declared a Vintage.’ Charles Symington, Harvest Report, 18th October 2016