Tasting Report: 2017 Vintage Port

Tasting Report: 2017 Vintage Port

Vintage Port is on a roll. 2016 marked the first declaration for Vintage Port in five years, and now 2017 has been declared as well, the first back to back declaration for most Port producers in, well, forever. For Symington, which produces Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s, and Cockburn’s (among other brands), it’s the first back to back declaration in the company’s 137-year history.

At a recent tasting event in San Francisco, producers and executives credited the extreme heat in the Douro Valley for keeping quality high enough to merit the vintage declaration. Conditions were so hot and dry, attendees were told, that the source of the Douro River actually went dry at one point, and the grape harvest was completed weeks in advance of the usual schedule.

And so, here’s a look at a whopping 16 Vintage Ports from the new 2017 lineup. Tasting notes follow, as always with the caveat that these wines are designed to age for a decade or more before you tuck into them. (Sadly, no older vintages reviewed this year…)

Tasting Report: The 2017 Vintage Port Declaration

2017 Cockburn’s Vintage Port – Fresh and herbal, almost minty. Some early cocoa notes are easy to find on this fairly dry expression, which sees lingering spice and more cocoa/orange notes on the finish. A-
2017 Croft Vintage Port
– Lightly tropical, with interesting pineapple notes. Baking spices are evident on the palate, along with tons of chocolate. Classically juicy and plump, it’s fairly iconic Croft. B+
2017 Croft Quinta da Roeda Serikos Vintage Port
– This is a new limited expression for Croft, released for the first time for the 2017 vintage. This expression ups the ante on the Croft formula, with even more vanilla and chocolate than the standard edition. Very dry and chewy, with plenty of tannin, it’s a solid choice to lay down. A-
2017 Dow’s Vintage Port – Heavy with floral violets, this wine comes off as a bit soapy and gummy, with too much sugar in the mix. B
2017 Fonseca Vintage Port – Especially chocolaty this year, with notes of fresh mint in the mix. Tart, with lots of cherry character, it finishes with graham cracker and caramel sweetness. B+
2017 Graham’s Vintage Port – Enchanting up front, loaded with berries on the nose. The palate however is an outlier, rather pruny and overblown. B
2017 Graham’s The Stone Terraces Vintage Port
– Graham’s special release is a much different wine, with orange notes on the nose and some evergreen character. Richer on the palate, it’s quite chewy and a bit gummy, again blown out with a strong, orange-laced finish. B+
2017 Krohn Vintage Port
– Licorice up front gives this an extreme density, decadent with rich, dark chocolate. Somewhat harsh on the palate, there’s a ton of tannin and Ruby Port-like raisin notes. A bit overwhelming. B-
2017 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port
– Baking spices and fresh apple provide a nice lift here, with a classic raisin and chocolate character taking a perfect middle-of-the-road approach that’s not too tannic, not too sweet. Quite approachable. A-
2017 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port
Nacional – My favorite Port from 2016 is again my top selection (though mind the $800+ price tag). A beast of a Port, it’s bold with chocolate and vanilla notes up front, then delves into an incredibly deep level of tannin, featuring tobacco, tar, and licorice before finishing on a citrus note. A
2017 Quinta da Romaneira Vintage Port
– Coconuts and caramel — and a little bit of agricole rum-style funk — give this wine a slightly weedy character, though not in a bad way. Licorice and tobacco notes liven up the back end. B+
2017 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port
– Surprisingly thin for Taylor, with some candylike fruit up front, leading to a strangely drying finish. A bit simplistic and dull. B
2017 Taylor Fladgate Vargellas Vinha Velha Vintage Port
– Green herbs on the nose here, then a quite herbal palate. Very sweet, with notes of spun sugar and licorice candy. B
2017 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port
– Traditional, with lots of raisins and fresh berries, plus orange blossom notes. Quite floral, it’s sweet and lovely, and feels like a solid option for drinking young. B+
2017 Quinta do Vesuvio Capela Vintage Port
– This is only the third release of Capela, Vesuvio’s higher-end bottling. It’s a very different wine, taking Vesuvio to a more austere and dense place, with notes of green herbs, mint chocolate, and an enduring, lush finish. A
2017 Warre’s Vintage Port
– Quite herbal and a bit floral, this wine offers chewy chocolate candy notes that come across as easygoing, fresh, and approach. B+

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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