Kopke 1940 White & Tawny Colheita Ports, Kopke Rosé & Sogevinus Vintage Port 2018 releases
Sogevinus was awarded the accolade of Fortified Producer of the Year at this year’s Sommelier Wine Awards. Kopke bagged half of the Port category’s Gold medals, with the 10 Year Old Tawny, 2003 White Colheita and the 1980 Colheita Port. The Port house’s hallmark freshness was singled out by the judges, who enjoyed these Ports’ vibrancy. I think they would have been besides themselves had they tasted Kopke 1940 White & Tawny Colheitas!
During June, I tasted an array of Sogevinus Ports, including the 2018 Vintage Port releases from four houses plus, the highlight, a flight of Kopke wood-aged Colheitas, culminating in a rare, very limited edition release of Kopke White Colheita 1940 and Kopke Tawny Colheita 1940, bottled after 80 years in cask.
In and amongst, I also tasted a rather more seasonal rosé Douro wine. Another limited edition release from Kopke’s Winemaker’s Selection. On which note, Sogevinus’ Douro wine capability has just been substantially enhanced, following the acquisition of Quinta da Boavista from Lima Smith. This prestigious 80-hectare property once owned by Baron of Forrester and, before Lima Smith, by Sogrape (Offley Port).
I am sorry that Lima Smith were unable to follow through on the ambitious plans they had for this estate, which I covered in this post, reviewing their first releases. Sogevinus plan to launch two new brands – Boa-Vista and Quinta da Boavista. I await their launch with interest.
Here are my tasting notes, with commentary from the Kopke Colheita live launch Zoom tasting, which you can view on video here.
Kopke Douro Rosé
Kicking off with a wine suited to the weather, as the rather overwrought packaging (bottle and box) suggests, this is not your average rosé. For starters, it’s dry, but the chief point of difference is the choice of grape variety.
Kopke Winemakers Collection Tinta Cão Rosé 2019 (Douro DOC)
Pale salmon, with a touch of gris. Sometimes I find it hard to describe the smell, even taste of a rosé, other than to say ‘pink.’ Such is the nose of this wine, but the palate is altogether more interesting – creamy, dry and savoury, the subtle redcurrant/cranberry fruit balanced by a lick of spice which, together with its fresh acidity, reflects the variety. Well made, all 2,541 bottles! The grapes came from 30-year-old vineyards in the Cima Corgo, at 400 meters altitude. They were harvested at the beginning of August 2019, whole bunch pressed and 80% was fermented in stainless steel vats, the remaining 20% in two-year old French oak barrels for six weeks. The wine then spent six months maturing in stainless steel vats with weekly battonage. 13% £19.95 at Vintage Wine & Port
Kopke Colheita Ports
Kopke Colheita White Port 2003
Port winemaker Carlos Alves well remembers this vintage, and not just because it was his first Douro harvest and a generally declared year (for Vintage Port). The temperatures spiked at 45 degrees and 30 degrees at night during July and August.
This is a blend of primarily Viosinho, Rabigato, Gouveio, Rabigato and Malvasia Fina, the grapes de-stemmed and trodden robotically, fermented on skins at 13-24 degrees in stainless steel tanks, then transferred to 4-6 year old oak vats, ranging from 7,500-15,000l. Later, the Colheita is transferred to smaller format oak (400-650l barrels). Alves pointed out that he doesn’t correct the acidity, preferring to obtain the requisite balancing acidity naturally, through choice of site and staged picks. Emphasising how important it is to take care adding the brandy spirit (the Colheitas receive the best, he noted), the fermenting grapes are cooled to 18-20 degrees and the spirit added in three stages, to preserve aromatic potential. The first addition stops the ferment, the second is after 5-7 days, when the wine is racked to remove sediment and the last addition in January of the year after harvest, when Alves decides on the final blend.
Whilst, as you would expect, this White Colheita is paler than the Tawny, with a barley sugar hue, it is a powerful example of the genre in 2003. The nose is complex, with delicate toasted almonds and barley sugar and a touch of mirin and deeper nam pla umami, which notes follow through in the mouth, together with honeyed white currant and, opening up, apricot and yellow plum. Smooth, sweet, but balanced, with persistent, directional, grapefruity acidity, super-subtle hints of white pepper, dried mint/eucalyptus. Lovely structure and intensity, with toasted almond resonance. Youthfully powerful, still with primary fruit and woody intensity to the finish, there is something quite vinous about this Colheita White Port. Indeed, paired with Stone Bass in a miso and seaweed broth with lovage and sunflower seed puree at an earlier tasting at Mere Restaurant, it worked surprisingly well. Participating in the Zoom tasting, former Ritz Sommelier, Jean-Michel Deluc MS, reckoned it would work well with exotic dishes – Chinese or Thai food, perhaps a lamb tagine. Alcohol 20,00%, pH 3,47, Total Acidity 4,04 g/dm3, Reducing Sugars 136,00 g/dm3
Kopke Colheita Tawny Port 1980
From a declared year for Vintage Port (like 2003), with below average yields and low sugars delaying the vintage until the end of September. Carlos Alves confirmed that the grapes are principally Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca (which he likes very much, Viosinho in the whites being a front runner), Tinta Roriz and Tina Barocca. The grapes (de-stemmed) are fermented and robotically trodden in stainless steel lagares at higher temperatures than the whites – between 29-31 degrees. The same brandy spirit is used, but it is added in 2 stages – slowly, to preserve the aromatics. First, to stop the ferment, then 6 days later, during racking. Like the whites, the Colheitas are aged in Vila Nova de Gaia, in 50,000-75,000l vats for 3 years, before being transferred to the pipas or barrels from which they will be bottled, perhaps decades later. However, a close eye is kept on the wines since, as Alves points out, “you must dedicate constant attention to different vats, where they are located, the cellars, the humidity.” He and his team taste a different cask for each colheita each month, ensuring that they maintain Kopke’s signature freshness.
I also tasted this Colheita over dinner at Mere, when the triumphant pairing matched it with a sphere of dark chocolate filled with Manjari chocolate mousse, with a salted caramel core and served with & tonka bean Anglaise. It displays marked citrus notes, with orange peel, caught marmalade (tatin singe) and juicier caramelized oranges, dried apricot and notes of café crème/sweet tobacco, salt caramel, cedar, spice and toasty, woody resonance to the back palate. Kopke’s trademark grapefruity acidity maintains line, length and balance, making for a controlled finish – poised. Still, it is youthfully dense, with a plumpness, even a touch of boozy fruitcake, suggesting it should age beautifully. Going back to my glass at the end of the tasting, I found milk chocolate orange, orange peel, cedar, cinnamon and mulchy tobacco notes. Alcohol 20,00%, pH 3,52, Total Acidity 4,72 g/dm3, Reducing Sugars 132,00 g/dm3.
Kopke Colheita Port 1960
This dangerously moreish Colheita was utterly on song and made the cut for my July Wines of the Month. Having tasted a full bottle over a few days, Port expert Richard Mayson remarked about its initially high-toned, lifted nose giving way to a wonderfully approachable port. And so it was with my test tube sample, with its edgy chutney/pickled walnuts and a touch of polished wood. Notes swiftly subsumed by the 1960’s marked spiciness, powerful dried fruit and sweet nutty, caramel torrefaction – qualities which deliciously define the mellifluous, velvety palate. It is a feast of dried fig and apricot, with rich, moreish chocolate orange (think Lindt’s Orange Intense bar), orange peel and praline intensity and layer. Lashings of savoury spice, with sweet tobacco (café crème) lift bring harmonious balance and terrific black cardamom, clove, nutmeg, cedar and cinnamon resonance to the most exquisite, lingering finish. Absolutely on song, this mellow, generous fellow exudes bonhomie! I thoroughly recommend you seek out its company. Alcohol 20,0%, pH 3,58, 5,26 g/dm3, Total Acidity, Reducing Sugars 167,00 g/dm3 £235 at The Vintage Port Shop
Kopke Colheita White Port 1940
This first of the 1940 duo and the first time Kopke has launched a duo of white and tawny Colheitas from the same vintage, side by side. It is extremely unusual to come across such mature white Ports. Alves explained that, in past, white grapes were sold for early drinking, but Kopke bet on barrel-ageing some of them, a tradition which it has maintained, laying aside white Ports each year.
In 1940, a very wet winter was followed by a dry and hot summer, resulting in low yields. I’m surprised it is possible to be definitive about the varietal composition, given I’d imagine the grapes came from field blend vineyards, back in 1940. However, according to the technical fiche for this wine, the 1940 White Colheita is a blend of 50% Malvasia Fina, 25% Viosinho and 25% Códega.
I should note that, during the live tasting, I suspected that my test tube sample was not in top condition, given others’ comments. Alves very kindly sent me fresh samples, both of which were much more intense and consistently so. Kopke White Colheita 1940 has good depth of colour, as one would expect from an aged white, with a hint of olive green. A distinctive patina of age, with lavender and beeswax to nose and palate, especially the aromatics fore and aft. Which does not prepare you for the intensity of the palate. It reveals spicy sultanas and dates, with cardamom, caught caramel and an ever-present hum of walnut, making for an attractive woody timbre. Opening up, barely sugar, orange zest and nuttier Amaretto notes emerge on nose and palate. Finely honed over the years in cask, with wonderful freshness and frame, it may have shed its ‘puppy fat,’ but this 80-year-old is in fine shape. The finish is lingering, rather ephemeral, with its delicate sheen of caramel and harmonious acidity. Fleet of foot. 20% alcohol, pH 3.73, TA 5.06 g/dm3, residual sugar 134 g/dm3 RRP £799 or £1399 as a pair with Kopke Colheita Tawny Port 1940.
Kopke Colheita Tawny Port 1940
According to the technical fiche, this is a blend of 25% Touriga Nacional, 25% Tinta Roriz, 25% Touriga Franca and 25% Tinta Barroca. This 80-year-old has a deeper hue with saffron, eggy, fresh madelaines and a kiss of cinnamon and nutmeg to the nose. The attack is firmer than the nose suggests, salty and penetrating, like a shard of caramel tuille, with salty, nutty, roasted almonds. Fanning out, mellower baking spices, nutmeg, suggestions of moist, sticky, spicy Madeira honey cake and milk chocolate notes emerge. The saltiness brings piquancy going into the finish, as do pizzicato-like riffs of orange zest, punctuating the mellow notes with energetic, aromatic riffs. But it is the mellow but spicy Madeira honey cake notes that linger – nutmeg, black cardamom and baking spices. Delicious length and depth. 20% alcohol, pH 3.44, TA 7.12 g/dm3, residual sugar 173 g/dm3 RRP £799 or £1399 as a pair with Kopke Colheita White Port 1940.
Sogevinus – Vintage Port 2018 releases
Sogevinus has released two Single Vineyard Vintages and two Classic Vintages from 2018.
Here is Alves’ overview about the vintage:
“2018 was a particularly challenging year, with adverse weather conditions resulting in a lower yield, albeit of excellent quality. With a lower quantity of grapes coming into the winery, we were able to closely monitor the fermentation of the first musts. These exceptional wines, perfectly representing the profile of each of their Port houses, are the result of the excellence of that raw material….In general, the 2018 Vintage ports stand out for their freshness, elegance and excellent balance between sweetness and acidity.”
Cálem Vintage Port 2018 (Cask Sample)
A blend from different Douro Superior plots of Touriga Nacional (15%), Touriga Franca (45%), Tinta Roriz (30%) and Sousão (10%).
A deep hue, a touch of green to the nose (morphing into pepperiness on day 2), with violet-edged, round, succulent black cherry and berry fruit, supported by grainy tannins and fresh acidity. Finishing sweet; although the spirit sat a little heavily on day one, by day two, it seemed better integrated, as the fruit came up. A fruit-driven, very approachable Vintage Port. 4,435 bottles produced, ABV: 20%, pH: 3.5, TA: 5.4 g/dm3, RS: 115 g/dm3
Barros Vintage Port 2018 (Cask Sample)
A blend of Cima Corgo fruit, comprising Touriga Nacional (35%), Touriga Franca (30%) and Tinta Roriz (30%) and Sousão (5%).
A flamboyant, juicy cassis and mulberry nose and palate, with good freshness, contouring powdery cocoa tannins and a velvety finish. Reveals hints of esteva and violets opening up, then spicy liquorice. More concentration, more structure than the Calem. A touch boozy too, but well matched by the fruit depth. Well made. 3,734 bottles produced, ABV: 20%, pH: 3.47, TA: 5.5 g/dm3, RS: 104 g/dm3 £39.95/bottle inc Duty & VAT at Vintage Wine & Port
Burmester Quinta do Arnozelo Vintage Port 2018 (Cask Sample)
At Quinta do Arnozelo, located in the subregion of Douro Superior, the harvesting of the Port wine grapes only began on the 13th September, the consequence of a cold and dry winter followed by a particularly wet spring, which caused a delay in the plant growth cycle. The summer’s hot weather, along with the excellent subsoil water reserves, ensured the harvested grapes were of excellent quality.
The performances of the varieties Touriga Franca (with plots facing east, at 200m altitude) and Touriga Nacional (with plots facing north-east at 280m altitude) of this Quinta were remarkable. The elegance and aromatic richness of the Touriga Nacional are matched with the concentration and structure of the Touriga Franca, which make up in equal parts this fascinating Vintage from Quinta do Arnozelo.
Characterful, as you might expect from a Single Quinta Vintage Port – more elbowy, with sturdy bitter chocolate tannins and a broader, mouthfilling, quite slippery (glycerol) palate, with mint-edged, liquorice-spiced red and black fruits. It is a touch raisined and baggy, not as fresh as the others. Bitter chocolate finish, with menthol lift. 6,405 bottles produced. ABV: 20%, pH: 3.56, TA: 5.2 g/dm3, RS: 112 g/dm3 . £49.95/bottle inc Duty & VAT at Vintage Wine & Port
Kopke Quinta S. Luiz Vintage Port 2018 (Cask Sample)
Quinta de São Luiz, located on the left bank of the Douro river, in the Cima Corgo subregion, experienced a winemaking year filled with contrasts: an extremely dry and cold winter, followed by heavy rain in the spring and early summer, with occasional hail. When summer arrived, it brought the hottest August and September months of the last decade, with average maximum temperatures of 35.8°C recorded at the weather station of Quinta de São Luiz. Despite the high temperatures of the summer, the leaves protected the berries from sunburn and the vines were able to extract the much needed ater and nutrients from the soil. By the time the harvest started the grapes were in great health and perfectly ripe.
Grapes were selected from the lower and middle parcels of the hill, with north / north-west exposure, and only from vines planted between 110 and 135m altitude. The blend includes 50% Touriga Nacional, giving it freshness and notes of fruit, and 50% old vines (80 years old or more), which give the wine assertiveness and concentration.
A tight nose, with quite an assertive, grippy tannin structure, indeed, chewy on the finish. Reveals concentrated, well-defined, persistent black berry, cherry and mulberry fruit, with liquorice and clove. Violets, bergamot, lively black pepper and orange blossom notes emerge on day two, together with red and black fruits of the forest and dehydrated sweet raspberry with chocolate. Sinuous, the fruits weaves in and around the sinewy tannins, making for a well-structured, elegant palate, despite the chew, which will mellow with time. A lovely mid-weight Single Quinta Vintage Port – very Kopke. My pick of the bunch of Sogevinus 2018 Vintage Ports. 4,783 bottles produced, ABV: 20%, pH: 3.50, TA: 5.6 g/dm3, RS: 109 g/dm3. £44.95/bottle inc Duty & VAT at Vintage Wine & Port
Kopke is imported and distributed in the UK by Hayward Brothers.
Other Vintage Port 2018 Reviews