Back-to-back!

Back-to-back!
The 2017 vintage has been declared. This is the first time in the Symington family’s history (Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s, Cockburn’s and Vesuvio) that they have ever declared back-to-back vintages, while for Taylor Fladgate (Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft) one has to go back as far as 1846 and 1847 to find the last full back-to-back declaration! These facts speak for themselves. The 2017 Ports are of an entirely different style to last year’s classical 2016s, speaking more to opulence and deep, layered, complexity. Indeed, the tannins are present and at times muscular, but more often than not they are swathed in sleek, velvety fruit and masses of concentration. Their weighting and overall sense of integration though is striking. For despite their density, they do not sit heavily but unfurl with layer upon layer of complexity the longer they sit in the glass. If the 2016s spoke of freshness and soaring aromas, the 2017s are charged with a coiled energy and a rich depth of flavour that some say they’ve never seen before.

It’s well known by now that 2017 was a particularly dry, hot growing season. After an exceptionally warm winter, bud break occurred in March, flowering followed in May and veraison was over and done with by the end of June, roughly three weeks earlier than average. A storm in early July broke the critical mass of extreme heat generated in June, leading in to a relatively soft, but very dry summer. The deluge of water in July descended straight in to the soil and helped the vines to slow steady maturity without affecting the size of the berries, which would eventually prove to be very small with ripe, thick skins. Harvest began around the 25th August; the earliest on record. Importantly though, by this point the vines had gone through a complete growing cycle, beginning and ending around three weeks early. According to Charles Symington, the conditions in 2017 coincide closely with the legendary 1945; another extraordinarily dry, early year.

The Taylor Fladgate Partnership has bottled more Vintage Port in 2017 than it did in 2016, whereas the Symingtons have bottled between 30 and 40% less. According to Adrian Bridge, Managing Director of Taylor Fladgate, the 2017 vintage, although down in overall terms, “offered a more consistently high level of ‘vintage’ quality fruit to choose from. When we tasted the wines we realised that the wines were more multi-dimensional and layered than the stricter 2016s.” Charles Symington reports that on their properties, the hot dry conditions simply yielded a higher skin to juice ratio, requiring 20% more fruit to physically fill the stone lagares to achieve the same amount of juice as in 2016. The resulting wines are “concentrated, excellent examples of the different house styles that will age for generations.” Christian Seely of Quinta do Noval simply states that “old vines are the key and can withstand the at times torrid conditions of the Douro. Our 2017 is one of the best Ports I have had the privilege to encounter in my time at Quinta do Noval. We are not shy when it comes to declaring vintages, but trust me when I say 2017 is right up there with the very best of them.” 2017 offers an entirely different expression to the 2016s released last year and as such, lovers of these traditional, age-defying wines will want both vintages in their cellar.


2017
 
6x75cl
-
-
£240.00 ep
ep
2017
 
6x75cl
-
-
£240.00 ep
ep
3x150cl
-
-
Sold Out
ep
12x37.5cl
-
-
Sold Out
ep
2017
 
6x75cl
-
-
Sold Out
ep
12x37.5cl
-
-
Sold Out
ep
2017
 
6x75cl
-
-
£320.00 ep
ep
3x150cl
-
-
Sold Out
ep
12x37.5cl
-
-
Sold Out
ep
2017
 
6x75cl
-
-
Sold Out
ep
2017
 
6x75cl
-
-
£325.00 ep
ep
3x150cl
-
-
Sold Out
ep
12x37.5cl
-
-
Sold Out
ep
2017
 
12x37.5cl
-
-
£276.00 ep
ep
6x75cl
-
-
Sold Out
ep