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Quinta do Noval

“Such Polish and Beauty”: The Striking 2021 Vintage Ports
Quinta do Noval

From a Port grower that prides itself on the finesse, purity and balance of its wines, 2021 has delivered these qualities in spades. This is an outstanding vintage where temperatures were consistent compared to recent extreme years, and ample water enabled Noval to wait for optimum ripeness in each plot. The wines have intensity but remain at an elegant remove from the opulent, sensual releases of recent harvests. Characterised by their floral-led perfumes, freshness and purity of fruit, another feature of the year is approachability; both the Noval wines should be ready and waiting within 10 years, and the Passadouro a few years earlier.

Made from just four per cent of Noval’s vineyard and wearing its power lightly, the 2021 VP is highly aromatic with beautiful scents of bramble and plum and a generous, complex palate shaped by sweet, fresh tannins. We haven’t tasted the Nacional this year, but we are assured that this release is more than worthy of this great label! “Magnificent” was the resounding verdict of Richard Mayson, the Wines of Portugal author and pre-eminent authority on Port.

This vintage also marks the first Quinta do Passadouro for which Noval has managed the entire growing season and winemaking from start to finish. In all, it is a great release from this benchmark grower; small but perfectly formed.

The Wines

Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port 2021

Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port 2021

The most revered and collectible Port in the world, Quinta do Noval Nacional is a Vintage Port produced from a single 2.5-hectare parcel of ungrafted vines in the Quinta do Noval estate, right next to the cellars. This patch of vines consistently produces a sublime and unique wine which is widely considered to be the pinnacle of Vintage Port and, indeed, one of the world’s great wines. It is also almost certainly the rarest of the world's great wines as so little is released—and even then, only in the appropriate years.

The Nacional plot is not named after the grape Touriga Nacional (as is commonly assumed). In fact, the site is planted with a range of the best Port varieties, including Touriga Nacional (which only accounts for roughly 30%), Touriga Francesa, Tinto Cão (about 20%, 60-year-old vines), Tinta Roriz and some Sousão. The average age of the vines is around 50 years. The wine is called Nacional (i.e. national) because it is produced exclusively from ungrafted vines (i.e. vines on their original rootstocks and therefore directly in touch with the soil of the nation). The yields of these vines are minuscule (around 15 hl/ha), and the tight bunches of small, deeply coloured grapes produce a massively profound yet sublimely refined Port. The La Romanée-Conti of Ports if you like.

“There’s such a purity of fruit here of sliced ripe cherries and crushed blackberries with blueberries, as well as fresh flowers. Medium- to full-bodied with ultra fine tannins that run the length of the wine. Really polished and silky. Medium sweet with pretty grip and presence. Reminds me of the perfect 2011 but with a little less concentration. Drink after 2030.”
97 points, James Suckling, jamessuckling.com
“From a legendary plot of ungrafted vines, rooted in the soil of the nation, hence ‘Nacional’, foot trodden in lagar and aged for 18 months in oak and chestnut wood vats, with a capacity of 2500 litres: very deep and opaque with almost inky intensity of colour; still quite introverted and sullen with underlying stony depth and kirsch-like intensity on the nose; immediately fills the mouth with beautifully defined, ripe cherry and plum fruit, bold structural gritty tannins which persist on a long vibrant and overwhelmingly fresh finish that goes on and on. Magnificent.”
18.5 points, Richard Mayson, richardmayson.com
“Richly layered and nicely rendered, this offers a mouthwatering ganache note that coats a core of blackberry and plum compote flavors while still keeping a sense of underlying energy. There's a prominent backdrop of warm earth, licorice root and roasted alder notes as well, giving this a fairly dry cut through the very structured finish. Impressive for the vintage. Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Cão, Sousão and Tinta Roriz. Best from 2040 through 2060. 150 cases made, 10 cases imported.”
96 points, James Molesworth, Wine Spectator
Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port 2021
Quinta do Noval Passadouro Vintage Port 2021

Quinta do Noval Passadouro Vintage Port 2021

In 2019, Quinta do Noval acquired a second estate in Portugal’s Douro Valley: Quinta do Passadouro. Quinta do Passadouro dates to the 18th century and has long been highly regarded for both its Port and table wines. The property is in the Cima Corgo sub-region, close to the village of Vale de Mendiz in the heart of the demarcated Douro region. Since 1991, the estate has been well run by the Bohrmann family (who also own a domaine in Meursault).

Passadouro is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinto Cão, Sousão and Tinta Roriz picked between 26th August and 8th October. The quinta’s vines range from 100 to 300 metres above sea level, requiring such a prolonged, multi-tiered harvest. Made in roughly the same fashion as Noval’s own Vintage Port, the style here—while also one of class and sophistication—is more medium-bodied, youthfully buoyant and immedicably approachable than the Noval.

In 2021, only 6.5% of Passadouro’s production was used to craft this wine. It was bottled in May 2023 with 88 g/L residual sugar. It’s a harmonious and appealing vintage with notes of violet, plum and hints of dark chocolate, lovely intensity without any heaviness and a surprisingly delicate and fresh finish. It’s the most accomplished Passadouro we have shipped—perhaps unsurprising as this is the first vintage fully controlled by the Noval team.

“Loads of crushed blackberries with black cherries, wild flowers and wet bark. Forest flower fruits. Medium-bodied, medium sweet with polished and very fine tannins that run the length of the wine. Racy finish. Best after 2029 and beyond.”
94 points, James Suckling, jamessuckling.com
“Loads of crushed blackberries with black cherries, wild flowers and wet bark. Forest flower fruits. Medium-bodied, medium sweet with polished and very fine tannins that run the length of the wine. Racy finish. Best after 2029 and beyond.”
94 points, James Suckling
Quinta do Noval Passadouro Vintage Port 2021
Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2021

Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2021

Noval’s Vintage Port is a single-quinta wine, the grapes passing a strict selection program from Noval’s vineyards on the slopes of Douro’s Cavadinha tributary. The 2021 vintage marks the 11th Port declaration in a row for Quinta do Noval, and this year’s wine represents only 4% of the estate’s entire production. Each year, the blending proportions for the Vintage Port will vary depending on the varieties which performed best. The 2021 is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão, Sousão, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Francesa—all foot-trodden in temperature-controlled granite lagares.

The wine matured for 18 months in old wooden barrels and was bottled in May 2023 with 97 g/L residual sugar. From the purity of its floral-led aromas and layered berry-fruited palate, this is Noval in its most elegant form. As always, it’s a wine of striking purity and intensity, yet it wears its power lightly, and the long, gently spiced finish is pure class. A delicious counterpoint to the opulent wines of recent years, it will work well in restaurants from a reasonably young age.

“Intense aromas of black fruits with blueberries, lead pencil and graphite. Wet earth as well. Full-bodied and layered with very fine tannins and a juicy and savory finish. There is such polish and beauty to this. Reminds me of the 1967. Best after 2030.”
95 points, James Suckling, jamessuckling.com
“Made from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinto Cão, Sousão and Tinta Roriz, trodden by foot in granite lagares: very deep, opaque crimson; open and scented on the nose with a slight green undertone, multi-layered showing considerable depth; lovely sappy-minty ripeness on the palate with broad, firm, fine-grained tannins mid-palate which persist on the finish. Not a big wine but balanced and showing considerable finesse.”
18 points, 18/20, Richard Mayson, richardmayson.com
“This solidly built version displays a graphite edge running from start to finish, giving a structured feel as notes of dark plum, blackberry and black currant reduction move through slowly, building tension and power along the way. Baker's chocolate, espresso crema, licorice root and alder notes all infuse on the finish, lending a level of scale and length that sets this apart from the pack in this vintage. Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Cão, Sousão and Tinta Roriz. Best from 2040 through 2060. 1,500 cases made, 180 cases imported.”
95 points, James Molesworth, Wine Spectator
Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2021

“Noval has been on fire lately and reasserted its position as one of the Douro’s finest Port Houses, setting its own agenda regarding Declarations.” Neal Martin, Vinous



"Nacional is the Everest, to be sure, but Noval offers a Himalaya's worth of quality in other Ports as well.”
Kim Marcus, Wine Spectator



“What an Estate.”
Jancis Robinson MW

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