2017 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 100 points
The 2017 Vintage Port, not quite bottled when seen but the final blend, is a field blend aged for approximately 20 months in wood. It comes in with 100 grams of residual sugar. A step up (or two) on the 2016, this shows fine depth, more focus, vivid fruit and serious power. It's not particularly thick, austere or astringent, but this is built for the long haul. It is potentially a great Taylor's, effortlessly combining brilliant fruit and structure. It tastes great now (today, it is far more vivid than its Vinha Velha sibling), but the power makes this hard to drink today. So, have some patience. It will need some time, probably a lot more than indicated, and will likely last longer than indicated as well. As noted in the accompanying article, I don't see much point to impossibly long drinking windows. At some point, reevaluation is required.
At the moment, it seems to be a step up on the Vinha Velha, although that is far more closed. I'd pick this today, but in time, both undoubtedly will have more tales to tell. Great young Ports go through many phases, and both are great young Ports. When ten-year anniversary tastings are done, this will have to be on the shortlist of greats to reconsider to determine how the best in the vintage are meeting expectations.Range: 98-100
Wine Spectator 97
This offers up a dense rumble of dark currant, fig and blackberry paste flavors, laced with hints of buckwheat, baker’s chocolate and warm tar. The muscular finish is thickly layered, with threads of alder and espresso cream adding definition along the way. Should be among the more long-lived wines of the vintage. Best from 2035 through 2060.
Wine Enthusiast 97
The structure is currently very dominant in this wine. Its dark tannins are concentrated, waiting for the masked black fruits to come through. Everything is there, it just needs an immense amount of time. Drink from 2030. Kobrand.
Wine & Spirits 96
This 2017 has all the markers of a legendary Taylor Port—scents of green fig, the complex tannic impact of schist, the consternating sense of elegance in the face of massive structural power. David Guimaraens bases this wine on fruit from the Quinta de Vargellas, an estate on the south bank of the river in the arid Douro Superior. In our tastings, it came after several 2017s that were sourced from vineyards on the north bank, closer to Pinhão, and, while it would be simplistic to consider this a definitive difference (there are many exposures in each quinta, and other quinta parcels in the blends), there was a stark shift from the blackness of those wines to the sour-cherry impression of this wine, and its floral fraise des bois notes. Those flavors keep pushing up against the dark shadows of the wine’s schist tannins, an undulating wake of red fruit and minerals that carries the wine’s muscular power into memory.
Following a wet 2016, the year started with cold and dry winter conditions. Bud burst occurred around March 10th. The dry conditions continued into Spring and the warm weather in April and May encouraged rapid growth of the vines. June was extremely hot and the early cycle continued with véraison around June 18th, one month earlier than the previous year. Conditions remained dry until the end of September although temperatures for much of the ripening season were moderate. As expected, the crop ripened very early, showing high sugar levels which led to longer fermentations and very effective color extraction. Picking started at Quinta de Vargellas on September 1st. The last time picking was recorded as having started this early was in 1945 when the first fruit was picked on September 3rd. Temperatures at harvest were mild, with cool nights, leading to balanced fermentations and excellent extraction.
Opaque at the center with a narrow purple rim. The nose is threaded with fine, linear fruit, heady and complex but restrained by a graphite minerality. Signature fragrance of violets, which hangs like a scented veil over the wine with discreet terroir notes of citrus and wild herbs. The nose is reserved but there is impressive depth and background. The palate is held in place by lithe, muscular tannins, firm and grippy on the finish, and ends with a powerful surge of crisp, pure berry fruit. A beautifully delineated wine, with poise and definition and the tantalizing promise of pleasures still to come.
Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinto Cão, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca
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