By Robert K. Stephen (CSW)
(WINDSOR, ON) – Yet again up in the hills of the Douro River Valley to Quinta do Noval. It’s relaxing sort of estate with actual chickens, pigs and a truck garden. And as usual a tremendous view down to the Douro River. Although laid back in feel they produce 800,000 bottles a year of Port and table wines. You can only visit this Quinta by appointment and lunch can be arranged.
We visit the lagares where the top Port wine grapes are crushed by foot. In the first day after the grapes are deposited into the lagares we are advised there is three hours of treading and the next day three women will continue treading for 8 hours. This quaint tradition stands a bit in contrast to the fact that this Quinta is owned by AXA Millésimes a subsidiary of French insurance giant AXA.
We are taken into a tasting room with long benches and amongst the table wines the Quinta do Noval Touriga Nacional red wine is in line with the prevailing Douro red wine aromas of lavender, spice, chocolate and coffee. It’s smokey and stern on the palate with a long serious high toned and peppery finish. It receives a 90. This will set you back in the $60-65 range.
I am not impressed by the Noval Black Port designed to attract young consumers. It’s low level Port rather fruity and fresh and simplistic and diffuse. It’s a bit sweet too. I give it an 83. Not all wines from the Douro captivate.
The Quinta do Noval 2007 single vineyard 100% foot trodden Late Bottle Vintage Port is Vintage quality and Vintage taste. It has high toned fruit aromas rich and complex with coffee, plum fringed with charcoal edges. One is drawn to the voluptuous cherry on the palate with its slight minerality. It deserves a 90.
Leading the Quinta do Noval pack with scores of 93 are the 2011 Vintage Port a purple velvet hammer with hyper cherry, smoke, blueberries and bacon on the nose. Clean and pure blackberry and black currant on the palate. It will cost in the $90-100 range and will keep for many a year.
The Quinta do Noval 40 year old Tawny Port has intriguing aromas of toffee, caramel, orange, leather and minerality and on the palate orange, caramel and candied apple. So very rich and sensual and for $100 it better be.
Before sitting down at the dining room table for a traditional Portuguese lunch we stop and savour the wonderful smells in the large kitchen and express particular interest in the potatoes roasting in the oven. These wonderful potatoes were not on the menu for us but rather the 20 or so workers that lunch was being prepared for, somewhat of a lost tradition. Now it was no surprise some of these tasty little gems ended up on our dinner table. Perceptive Portuguese hospitality at its best.
If you are to find any Quinta do Noval wines in Canada try its Ontario agent Lifford Agency.