The Douro Valley
The Douro Valley, birthplace of Port, is one of the oldest and most beautiful of the historic European wine regions. Wine has been made there for two thousand years. In 1756 the Douro Valley became the first classic wine region to be legally demarcated. Its vineyards were comprehensively classified the following year, almost a century before those of Bordeaux.
Cut off from the temperate coastal area by the Marão mountains, which shield it from the rain-laden winds blowing off the Atlantic, the Douro Valley has a climate of hot dry summers and severe winters. Its wild and mountainous landscape is dramatic in scale and until relatively recently much of the region was remote and inaccessible. Most of the finest vineyards are planted on the steep hillsides bordering the Douro River and its tributaries, such as the Pinhão, the Távora and the Rio Torto. About two thirds of the vineyard area is planted on slopes with a gradient of over 30% and the Douro Valley is the only significant wine producing area in the world to practice hot climate hillside viticulture.
Taylor Fladgate Port Wine
Taylor Fladgate is one of the oldest of the founding Port houses. It is dedicated entirely to
the production of Port wine and in particular to its finest styles. The house remains entirely focused on Port production and specialised in its premium styles. Unlike most other producers, it does not market any other wine.
Taylor Fladgate is committed to remaining independently owned. This guarantees the continuity of purpose required to make wines of quality and character. It also preserves a priceless inheritance of experience and skill passed down through the generations over more than three centuries. Taylor Fladgate’s independence also helps to protect its future as a producer of the finest Ports, allowing it to make decisions and investments which are in the best long term interests of the firm and of future generations.
2011 Taylor Fladgate LBV $24.99*
The wines used to blend Taylor’s LBV were drawn from a reserve of some of the best full bodied red ports, produced at the 2011 harvest, from grapes grown on Taylor’s own vineyards and on other top properties in the Cima Corgo and Douro Superior areas.
Wine Enthusiast 91 Points: Inky black, this highly extracted Port has sensual texture and an unctuous finish laced with delicious primary fruit flavor. It’s a rather sexy LBV this year, big, dense and mouth coating. It has a fair bit of power too. For an LBV to drink now, this is simply beautiful
( Taylor Fladgate Quinta de Vargellas Vineyard & Olive Grove)
2015 Taylor Fladgate Quinta de Vargellas $59.99*
Quinta de Vargellas is pre-eminent among the wine estates of the Douro. Located in the wild and hilly eastern reaches of the Douro valley, it has been prized as a source of the finest Port wines since the 1820s. Today it ranks among the great vineyards of the world.
James Suckling 95 Points: This is top class with so much perfume and flower aromas. Violets galore. Full body yet refined and tight with very powerful and polished tannins. This is racy and linear. Turns juicy, fresh and medium sweet. Reminds me of the excellent 1967 Vargellas.
From the legendary 1840, Fonseca’s first Vintage Port release, to the superb declared vintages of the last decade, the house has produced a succession of highly acclaimed wines even in the most adverse moments of history. James Suckling, in his authoritative book on Vintage Port, put it as follows: ‘The vintage Ports of Fonseca are perhaps the most consistently great of them all. Not only do they have a striking fleshiness and powerful richness when young, but they retain that youthfulness for decades.’
This consistency derives not only from continuity of family involvement, and the knowledge and skill passed down from one generation to the next, but also a close link with the vineyard. The firm’s three estates of Cruzeiro, Panascal and Santo António are the heart of the distinctive character of Fonseca’s Vintage Ports. Fonseca’s respect for the vineyard and the unique environment of the Douro Valley expresses itself in the firm’s leadership in the field of sustainable and organic viticulture. It was the first house to offer a Port made entirely from organically produced grapes.
Fonseca Bin 27 $19.99*
Bin 27 shares the heritage and style of the great Fonseca Vintage Ports, as well as much of their depth and character. However it is bottled when ready to drink and can be served by the glass directly from the bottle. Blended for consistency of character and quintessentially Fonseca in style, this reserve blend provides reliable and affordable value.
Wine and Spirits 90 Points: Deep youthful ruby colour. Intense rich fruity nose crammed with pure blackberry, cassis, cherry and plum aromas interwoven with notes of spice.
Fonseca 20 YR Tawny Port $54.99*
During the January following each vintage, Fonseca sets aside a reserve of very concentrated, powerful vintage quality red ports, selected primarily from the firm’s own quintas and judged according to their ageing potential. As tawny ports age, they grow lighter in colour, as they throw their deposit in the cask rather than in the bottle. The process of racking contributes to the oxidation process whereby the wine’s fruit qualities gradually diminish and its nutty characteristics are acquired.
Wine Spectator 95 Points: Intense, powerful and complex, this features heady aromas and flavors of toffee, marzipan, butterscotch and chocolate. Notes of mocha and French roast chime in as well, with a long, glorious finish of dried white fruits and spice.
The merchant company that we know today as Croft was founded in 1588, during Elizabeth I’s reign, by Henry Thompson of York, England. Today, Croft is a part of the Fladgate Partnership, three of the most historic and highly regarded Porto houses, including Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca and Croft—a family-owned company that sets the standard to which other Port houses aspire.
Croft has aged its wines on the same premises in Oporto since the 19th century. These include the famous Terreirinho vault, the longest Port wine lodge of all, which measures over 140 meters from end to end. The company’s cellars house an extensive and rare collection of vintage Port, including some that have never been sold.
Croft Reserve Tawny Porto $19.99*
Light brick red, with an amber hue. On the nose, rich red fruit, notes of caramel, raisins, and cloves. On the palate, cardamom, spice, butterscotch and elegant redcurrant, interwoven with attractive nutty aromas. Smooth and round on the palate, full of luscious strawberry jam flavors with an elegant finish.