First taste: The Fladgate Partnership’s 2009 Vintage Ports – Taylor’s, Fonseca, Croft, Skeffington

Last week, I tasted The Fladgate Partnership’s 2009 Vintages Ports from Taylor’s, Croft, Fonseca and Skeffington, twice in fact, on consecutive days of London International Wine Fair.  Below you’ll find my tastings notes, followed by Fladgate’s comments on the vintage. 

I’ve also included links below to Jancis Robinson’s and Jamie Goode’s websites for commentary and discussion on the diverging views of Fladgate and Symington about the 2009 vintage –  the battle of the Brits!  Symington elected not to declare 2009 other than for the (excellent) Warres 2009 special commemorative bottling (see here for my review). 

As for Portuguese Port producers’ views, when I attended Niepoort Big Day tasting at the end of April, Sandra Tavares da Silva greeted the news that Fladgate were declaring the 2009s extremely positively – Pintas and Quinta do Vale Dona Maria have released a 2009 Vintage Port as, for that matter, have Niepoort (notes to follow).

Skeffington 2009 Vintage Port

Expressive if quite simple with toothsomely sweet but bright and reasonably persistent red and black cherry and berry fruits.  Firm but ripe tannins add a bit of balancing grip.  Good.

Croft 2009 Vintage Port

Croft 2009 is drawn entirely from Quinta da Roêda.   An inky hue with Croft’s typically fleshy, yielding soft toothsomely sweet black cherry fruit with a hint of eucalypt on day one.  While there’s persistence, iron fist tannins are a little intrusive, “stubbing out” the fruit.  Needs time to settle.

Fonseca 2009 Vintage Port

Fonseca 2009 is drawn from Quinta do Panascal and Quinta do Cruzeiro with a small proportion of wine from Quinta do Santo António, recently converted to organic viticulture.  Bold and exuberant, the 2009 shows impressive depth, layer and structure with its heft of dark fruits edged with chocolate, gingerbread, orange blossom and dried herbs.  Powerful firm but broad, ripe tannins carry a long finish.  Impressive.  Very good indeed.

Taylor’s 2009 Vintage Port

A blend of Ports from Quinta de Vargellas and Quinta de Terra Feita with a “small contribution” from Quinta do Junco.  Very inky, dark hue and tight but bright on entry and through the mid-palate.  As always,  less overtly sweet than the others and very well structured – tailored indeed – with good freshness and sinewy tannins.  Both days I was disappointed by the finish, which seemed a little hollow.  Or was it just very closed? One to review.

Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vinha Velha 2009 Vintage Port

If the Fonseca was bold and exuberant, the Vargellas Vinha Velha was big, bad and bold!  A no holds barred very flashily fruited wine with lashings of gingerbread spice.  No shortage of oomph or grip, it’s strapping black fruits barely clasped by ripe, powerful tannins.   A belter, with a  fiery finish.

Fladgate’s vintage report

The 2009 viticultural year was marked by low vine fertility and a dry ripening season resulting in low yields, dense and concentrated musts, high colour, tannin and sugar levels.  There will be smaller quantities available than the preceding declared vintages and tighter allocations. 

Fladgate’s 2009 declaration is, unusually, the fourth declaration in a decade (2000, 2003, 2007, 2009).  Adrian Bridge, the Fladgate Partnership’s CEO explained:
“In over three centuries of making great Ports, we have seldom seen four outstanding vintages come along in a decade….Like the great landmark vintages of the early twentieth century, the 2009s are built for longevity.”

For Head Winemaker David Guimaraens

“We haven’t seen colour intensity and tannic grip like this in over twenty years….The quality of fruit is also impressive and the wines have excellent acidity.”
Check out Fladgate’s dedicated 2009 vintage website here for more details and click here for details of new release 2009 Vintage Ports (including from Symington Family Estates) which I recently tasted at The Big Fortified Tasting plus Niepoort Bioma 2008 Vintage Port.

Finally, click  here and here for interesting reports on the diverging views of Fladgate and Symington on Jancis Robinson’s and Jamie Goode’s websites.

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