The Fladgate Partnership Port houses declare 2011

Taylor's 2011 75cl

On Monday the first finished articles of 2011 Vintage Ports came my way – terrific examples from Sandeman and the Symington Family (notes to follow). And yesterday, The Fladgate Partnership declared their hand – a royal flush! All three of its Port houses – Croft, Fonseca and Taylor’s announced their decision to declare the 2011 vintage; the Vintage Ports will be released later in the year.

In addition, the rare Vargellas Vinha Velha 2011 Vintage Port will also be released.  Made in very small quantities, from the oldest vines on Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas estate, it will be offered in three bottle cases.  Says Adrian Bridge, Managing Director of The Fladgate Partnership, “2011 has produced textbook Vintage Ports, classics in every sense.”

Fonseca 2011 75cl

Commenting on the conditions leading up to the 2011 harvest Head Winemaker David Guimaraens explained; “Abundant spring rainfall created reserves to keep the vines well supplied with water throughout the hot, dry summer.  This resulted in balanced ripening and wines that have elegance as well as depth and stamina.”  He concluded, “The 2011s stand out for the purity of the fruit and the quality of the tannins, which are silky and well integrated but provide plenty of structure.”

Croft 2011 75cl

Here is Fladgate’s detailed report on the viticultural year and harvest:

“The winter preceding the 2011 harvest was wetter and colder than the 30-year average.  Budburst occurred as usual around 19 March and warm weather and rainfall in April produced vigorous growth.

At the beginning of May dry conditions set in and there was little rainfall in eastern areas of the Douro Valley until late August.  However the vines were able to draw from the plentiful ground water reserves built up early in the year and bunches developed and ripened in ideal conditions. Véraison (colouring of the grapes) occurred a little earlier than usual on 15 June.

Mild weather in June and July was broken only by a heat wave in the second half of June.  August was hot and dry, with perfectly timed rainfall on 21 August and 1 September rounding off an excellent ripening season and producing a well-balanced crop.

Croft’s Quinta da Roêda and Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas were the first Fladgate Partnership properties to begin picking on 10 September.  The estates in the Pinhão and Távora Valleys followed soon afterwards, with the exception of the organic vineyards at Fonseca’s Quinta de Santo António which started on the 25th. Fermentations were long, allowing balanced and complete extraction, and musts displayed intense colour and powerful fruit character from the outset.” 

I’ll be tasting the Fladgate Ports later this month so watch this space for my report, also from today’s The Big Fortified Tasting. I’m particularly looking forward to the Vintage Port Masterclass presented by Joao Nicolau d’Almeida and Dirk Niepoort – a line up of 14 Vintage Ports from 1924 up to 2011.

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