James Suckling 98
This is a superb baby Noval that reminds me of the 1966. Chewy yet so polished. The light sweetness suggests an overall dialing back of the sugar content. Stemmy and lightly green. A truly classic Noval. Almost all from Pinhao. Buy. Better in 2025.
The 2016 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port is a blend of Touriga Naçional, Touriga Franc, Tinta Cão and Sousão, all foot-trodden and aged in wooden casks for 18 months. It has a voluminous, warm and inviting bouquet that positively “bulges” with damson, bilberry, crushed violets and blackcurrants, all beautifully defined and focused. The palate is medium-bodied with a feisty, spicy opening: black fruit laced with cracked black pepper, clove, cardamom and a pinch of sea salt. Whilst the aromatics have all the “fun”, the palate is more “serious”, as if compensating for the nose with a sense of reserve and restraint. Together they make for a fascinating, quite mercurial Quinta do Noval that should age gloriously over the next 30 years.
Anticipated maturity: 2024-2054
Robert Parker 97
The 2016 Vintage Port is a field blend, mostly Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão and Sousão, aged for 18 months in old wood. It comes in with 82 grams of residual sugar. This was in bottle for only about seven weeks when seen, but I made sure at least some of it had a lot of air. It looks super, with plenty of room to grow in the cellar. Christian Seely likes to say that this regular Noval and the Nacional are not better than one another, just different. In fact, I usually prefer Nacional, but in this vintage I make a case for equality and endorse that view. This was stunning from the first smell, promising concentration, intensity of fruit and great things to come. It had a 100-point nose that made me go “wow!” No wine I tasted had a better nose than this. Violets and blue fruits lead off, with a trace of eucalyptus. I tend to think Noval is a producer that always shows mid-palate finesse, but this seems pretty deep too. It is also intense. The tannins won’t sear your mouth because the balance is impeccable. To be sure, it might close down, but it is surprisingly approachable now, notwithstanding that intensity. Rest assured that this lively young Porto still has all the materials to make old bones. Needless to say, “approachable” does not mean “ready.” You need to toss this in the cellar for a decade, at least. Purists will say to double that or more. When the palate becomes as expressive as the nose—if it does—this will be entitled to an uptick. No pricing was set yet.