General declarations of vintage port only happen three, perhaps four times a decade. Although 2015 was widely released by Houses, the last full declaration was 2011. 2016 joins it. 2016 is an elegant year, with pristine fruit and a glorious purity. These ports are so finely balanced they are approachable even now, but have no fear of laying them down in the cellar for your grandchildren.
Vintage port is one of the great bargains in the world of wine. Aside from a few cult wines, such as Noval’s Nacional, even the best of the vintage will only cost between AU$100 and AU$200. Around 70 vintage ports were declared from the 2016 vintage, a large number. Having worked through around 60 of these, I’m a huge fan and cannot recommend strongly enough that anyone keen on VP stock their cellar now.
Among those likely to be available locally, Fonseca is intense with lovely plummy notes and extraordinary length. Both this and the Taylor’s are from the same portfolio and are made by David Guimaraens, who is well known to Australians from his time here. Lovely texture and balance with amazing length, and will age for a very long time.
Taylor’s is generous and plush, perfectly in balance with an array of flavours – my wine of the vintage, but there are many that come within the proverbial eyelash. It offers the class and structure one expects with Taylor’s, but also the purity and pristine fruit that is the hallmark of the vintage.
Dow’s was the pick of the 2011s for many, and this is at least as profound. It has real power, richness and incredible length, with chocolate and blueberry notes. The perfect example of an iron fist in a velvet glove.
Warre’s is usually not quite as concentrated as some, but the elegant style of the year suits this House perfectly and this is as good as any Warres I have ever seen (the team behind it refer to it as ‘the girl from Ipanema!) Although it will age brilliantly, it will be more approachable earlier than most.
Graham’s is as close to perfect as one could hope, offering the purity and pristine fruit of the vintage. This is showing immaculate balance, great length and the silkiest of tannins.