Quinta do Noval 2003 Late Bottled Vintage Porto (Douro) – Extremely fruity and simple-minded. Port-by-numbers. (8/12)
Quinta do Crasto 2006 Late Bottled Vintage Porto (Douro) – I don’t drink much Port anymore. I started typing that I don’t know why, but that’s not really true: I do. I find the basic bottlings, the everyday stuff, so consistently flawed and disappointing that I’m rarely interested. Aged tawnies have a sweet spot – different from producer to producer – that I adore, but is always a fair bit more than I usually wish to spend. And vintage…well, I own some, but when I realized that my transformative Port experiences came with more age that I probably have left, my enthusiasm for the wait…let’s say it waned.
But this is where LBV is supposed to step in, right? There was, for a long while, the Quinta do Noval in this role, but that escalated enough that it became a commitment. There have been others, and at the moment there’s this. Let me start with the most damning criticism: this is what I think basic ruby Port should taste like, but almost never does. It’s a big mouthful of sweet berries, all sugar and little structure, with caramelizations and crystallizations taking a seat way, way in the back. Complexity? Zero. I enjoy it, and drink it faster than is probably wise – beware the ides of dubious neutral spirit cogener hangovers – as a result, which isn’t exactly a feature. But it, too, isn’t what I’d call “cheap”…not that Port can, inherently, be all that cheap. But in the universe of wines which satisfy the desire for a few sips of something sweet, perhaps with cigars in the men’s lounge of the Titanic, I fear that my storm no longer settles over this Port. (5/12)
Quinta do Noval 1997 “Late Bottled Vintage” Porto (Douro) – Still quite primary, with big, juicy berries in a fine fruit syrup plus a dense layer of ripe tannin and surprisingly vivid acidity. There’s absolutely no reason to open this one now. (9/07)