Fladgate first taste: 2008 Single Quinta Vintage port cask samples

For members of the trade, cask samples of Fladgate’s 2008 Single Quinta Vintage Ports (SQVPs) will be available to taste at theLondon International Wine Fairthis week.

I had a sneak preview earlier this month when I visited Fladgate’s houses, Taylor’sFonseca andCroft.  The wines were put together between 1-5 weeks previously and, as with classic vintage ports, all SQVPs are foot trodden at Fladgate.  Nor is there any difference in the spirit used – the only spirit Chief Winemaker David Guimeraens (pictured at Croft wants to see is that of the vineyard and, in 2008, he reckons the wines are very expressive of terroir.

Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas 2008 – a deep, dark hue with a classic Vargellas nose, redolent of violets, with liquorice spice beneath.  In the mouth it’s very concentrated and dark fruited, though the floral top notes lend elegance, as do its remarkably tailored, fine but firm tannins.  Vargellas may be in the hotter, drier Douro Superior, but its elegance derives from its north-facing aspect and old vines which, for Guimeraens, account for its lean tannins.  Very fine.

Taylor’s Quinta Terra Feita 2008 – a real contrast to Vargellas, Guimeraens says the dimension of this wine, from south-facing slopes in the Cima Corgo (Pinhão Valley), is shaped by its fruit, which is particularly ebullient in this vintage – Guimeraens confirms that the Cima Corgo was indeed on top form in 2008.  A little earthy on the nose, it shows lots of grip behind its mega-concentrated sappy fruits – an impenetrable bruiser right now!  Lots of potential.

Fonseca do Panscal 2008 – in a blog announcing the release of Fladgate’s 2008 SQVPs (seehere) I’d mentioned that Guimeraens reckoned this wine to be the best Panascal yet.  I asked him what accounts for this.  His answer – “it was very cool overall, then hot in September though the nights were very cool which created wonderful fermentations because they didn’t get too hot at the end.  If they get too hot, you lose the fruit.” And here’s my tasting note – very opulent nose and palate, with lots of blueberry and creamy cassis supported by ample,  velvety tannins.   Nonetheless, it’s well balanced, finishing long and lingering with a lift of fennel spice and smudgy graphite/chocolate.  Terrific.

Croft Quinta da Roeda 2008 – a succulent, fleshier, more open knit style with blackberry, cherry and currant fruit; seemingly more straight forward than the others with good fruit purity and definition.  Good.

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