2011 Vintage Port review from TFP, Noval, and Romaneira

2011 Vintage Ports
The Fladgate Partnership
Quinta do Noval
Quinta da Romaneira

This past Monday I attended the 2011 Vintage Port release for these three Houses. As well as tasting the 2011’s there was a number of slightly older vintages offered up so tasters could not only compare all the 2011’s side by side, but also to compare recent vintages of each House side by side. This is invaluable as it allowed people to see consistent traits such as flavors, texture, body, and other subtle nuances. Leading this remarkable tasting was Adrian Bridge - CEO of The Fladgate Partnership (TFP), David Guimaraens - head winemaker for TFP, and Christian Seely - Managing Director of Quinta do Noval and owner of Quinta da Romaneira.

Much as already been said about the vintage so I’ll skip the details and dive right into tasting notes. But before I do I wanted to mention some house keeping things. As with my previous review, these are very early cask samples tasted at a walk around tasting. I’ve included scores. Take them with a grain of salt as a general overall impression and not a final review. At this young stage VP’s change quite often and what may not show well today may show very different a few days, or even hours, later.

One thing really impressed me and stood out. Typically, Taylors and the Vargellas Vinha Velha have what I call “Vargellas spirit.” That is, a slight heat streak in them when young. These did not show that at all. I spoke to David Guimaraens about this and he stated that was reflective of how pure and well balanced the fruit was in 2011 from Quinta de Vargellas.

Having now tasted what are considered many of the “prime” houses for VP I can confidently state that I am very impressed across the board with all the 2011 Vintage Ports which have crossed my lips. If you are thinking of buying, buy early. There was little made and it is already starting to sell out.

2011 Croft Vintage Port
The nose was very floral and with raspberries. Very bold and rough fruit greeted the palate, this is a full bodied VP but retains freshness at the same time. The finish was a rough and tumble tannic youngster. I was very pleased with this vintage and I am glad to see Croft continuing to make a come back.
92-94(+) Points

2011 Fonseca Vintage Port
The nose offered up sweet rich black fruit. Soft and sweet initially on the palate, but then bold black stone fruit, massive tannins, extremely expressive and complex, a long tannic finish was a seamless transition from the body. This was stunning and one of my favorites of the 2011’s on show.
96-98 Points

2011 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port
Deep dark fruit nose. Silky yet full bodied at the same time, lacking any heat, sneaky tannins suddenly turn to monstrous ones. The fruit was a bit hard to get out at times as this was changing rapidly in my glass. Though nice minerality did show. The deep fruit did come out on the long tannic and acidic finish.
94-96(+) Points
2011 Taylor Fladgate Vargellas Vinha Velha Vintage Port
This comes from old mixed “field blend” vine parcels at Quinta de Vargellas. The nose was very tight and hard to get much out. But the palate was another story. Initially soft and sweet, this quickly started hammering the palate with dense sweet fruit, great acid, bold tannins, good minerality, yet elegant at the same time. Like the Fonseca, the long finish was a simple extension of the body. Another of my favorites from this tasting.
96-98 Points

2011 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port
Still slightly tanky with passion fruit on the nose. Rich black fruit, plums, a wall of tannins, outstanding acidity came late, semi-sweet overall, with a long full bodied finish. I was quite impressed with this vintage of Noval and at this tasting thought it showed as well as the Nacional. Though I imagine in time this will change.
95-97 Points

2011 Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port
The first released vintage of this since the spectacular 2003. Nose of fresh dark berries and stone fruit. Silky and subtle, dark fruit was subdued then all of a sudden popped alive. Then the prominate acidity and tannins took over and led into a long rich sweet finish.
95-97 Points

2011 Quinta da Romaneira Vintage Port
Still quite tanky with passion fruit dominating the nose. Bold red fruit, building tannins grew in the mouth, very silky and elegant, with clean fresh fruit. A long red fruit finish retained that elegance. Though young this has been my favorite VP on release from this house. I look forward to this house continuing it’s ascent to the greatness it is capable of.
92-94 Points