One of the wine world’s great bargains: 2011 Late Bottled Vintage Port
A few years ago Luis Sottomayer (Head winemaker for Casa Ferreirinha and all Sogrape Port Wine brands) told me “Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Ports are the quality of vintage ports 10 years ago.” It spoke volumes about the quality-focused changes in the Douro. At the time, we were tasting 2008 LBVs, the Sandeman particularly excellent. The just released full-bodied 2011 LBVs are an even more compelling case in point. No surprise given the universal acclaim for this vintage but boy, these have to be among the wine world’s greatest bargains. Here are my picks of the bunch thus far.
Sandeman Late Bottled Vintage Port 2011
Tasting this with Sottomayer in December he told us that the colour of LBVs has increased by 80% in the last few years – quite something! This deep crimson, unfiltered LBV, part foot trodden in lagares, part pumped over in vat, is a grippy, peppery, well-structured blend of 55% Touriga Franca, 25% Tinta Roriz, 20% Touriga Nacional with cocoa-dusted sweet raspberry, juicy black berry/currant and esteva. Though it’s very expressive now, with a lively firecracker peppery finish, a chassis of firm but fine, powdery tannins and fresh acidity suggests it will age very well into the mid-term. Incidentally, in undeclared vintages, the LBV has benefited from the cream of the crop of Sandeman’s Port grapes. However, Sandeman Quinta do Seixo Single Quinta Vintage Port 2013 would have taken the rump of it from this flagship estate. I asked Sottomayor if this Single Quinta Vintage Port – the first ever from Seixo (and only the second in the history of the company)- would be made again and, if so, would this impact on the quality of the LBV. The answer is yes and no. Sottomayor replied “it will change the quantity of LBV going forward, but not the quality of it…we must maintain the quality of every year.” The 2011 LBV will be sold at Waitrose, RRP £15
Ferreira LBV Port 2011
Also made by Sottomayor (and owned by Sogrape), the Ferreira is a blend of 55% Touriga Franca, 25% Touriga Nacional, 10% Tinta Roriz, 5% Sousão, 5% Tinto Cão. It’s a very deep hue with an intense concentration of blackcurrant and a tangible charge of fine iron filing tannins on the attack and going through. Super-youthful, it finishes quite dry (as in one’s impression of sweetness) and firm with a lively green, peppery edge. A bundle of energy with heaps in reserve. £18.95 at Oakham Wines.
Ramos Pinto LBV Port 2011
This unfiltered blend of Touriga Franca (55%), Touriga Nacional (35%), Tinta Barroca (6%) and Sousão (4%) was fermented in lagares and bottled in April. Very focused, tight and concentrated, its reserves of ripe red and black fruits are well balanced by notes of bitter chocolate and an impressive (fresh) acid/tannin structure. Very good. £17.05 at The Drink Shop
Quinta do Crasto LBV Port 2011
Sourced from old field blend vines, this is another terrific lagares-fermented, unfiltered LBV. Very floral, with violets and rock rose, even a hint of mint, to its deep seam of very precise, brightly polished blackcurrant fruit. Grippy tannins and fresh acidity make for a vivid wine with lots of gas in the tank. Yet it retains elegance and poise. Beautifully done. £15.94 at The Drinks Shop
Duorum LBV Port 2011
A mix of (mostly) old field blend fruit with Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Cão and Sousão. This inky unfiltered, lagares-fermented LBV has vividly concentrated fruit firmly in the driving seat, well supported by ripe tannins. Great depth, but lovely lift too, with a lick of violets to its long finish. RRP £15-20; €25.95 at O’Brien’s.
Real Companhia Velha Quinta das Carvalhas LBV Port 2011
I am getting more and more excited about this vineyard since Jorge Moreira took the helm at Real Companhia Velha (as to which watch this space for my notes on more releases/news from RCV). This Quinta’s aged vines lends serious heft with signature spicy fruit – lashings of liquorice – and a mineral (coal) edge to its concentrated core of fresh and dried plum. A firm but ripe backbone of tannins frames it beautifully. This is a vigorous, highly individual single quinta LBV.
Quevedo LBV Port 2011
I very much liked the definition and intensity to this LBV’s pure charge of blackcurrant fruit. Impressive back palate minerality to its long finish is, however, the trump card up its sleeve. An elegant, very drinkable but sophisticated LBV. £18.99 at Naked Wines (£13.49 for Angels – a real steal)
Fonseca LBV Port 2011
Very concentrated and heady, with sweet black fruits, orange blossom and bergamot lift to nose and palate. Fine chocolately tannins reinforce its generous, most bountiful character. An LBV with hipsway; it will keep, but resistance may well prove futile! Still you will have to be patient to get your mits on it. I’m told it will become available in the (UK) market in the Autumn.
Taylor’s LBV Port 2011
This LBV may be filtered but, with more concentration and structure than usual, it doesn’t taste it. It’s classic Taylor’s – quite buttoned up after the Fonseca (though it shares its beguiling orange blossom perfume), with sinewy tannins to frame its juicy, fleshier plum and blackberry fruit. A terrific buy. £15 at Tesco.
Click here for my notes on 35 2011 Vintage Ports.