New Douro 2007 - a thrilling vintage
Today was the long-awaited New Douro 2007 tasting, where we finally got an in depth look at the 2007 vintage in the Douro. It was held in the spectacular east room on the seventh floor of the Tate Modern (the view is above). 2007 is a very exciting vintage with some lovely wines. And its interesting to see a diversity of styles, too. You'd be hard pressed to put your finger on exactly what the 'Douro' style is. It's a region that seems to express itself in many ways.
From a tasting like this, I feel bad about picking out just a few highlights, because there were so many really good wines. And as well as the table wines, we got a chance to look at many of the 2007 Ports (although the big omission here was the Taylor Fladgate group, who don't make a table wine). 2007 is a great vintage both for Ports and table wines.
Also worth pointing out is that this New Douro group is a sort of club, and there are some top Douro wines that aren't part of the club. For example, Noval has been allowed in at last, but there's no Romaneira here. There's no Passadouro. No Bago de Touriga. No newcomers such as Conceito, Sao Jose and so on. Including these would probably make the tasting too large.
I have to mention a few wines. Niepoort's 2007 line-up was thrilling. The wines have taken on their own personalities in ways that they haven't before. They are getting more elegant, more linear. Redoma is perhaps the best yet, with a move away from just small oak to larger, more neutral oak (40% of the blend) which Dirk has purchased from Italy. Charme is just incredible in 2007, with newfound elegance and purity. Batuta is so focused, taut and fruit-driven but with amazingly persistent fine yet firm structure.
I re-tried 2004 Robustus, and was awed. This wine has, in bottle, begun to fuse into a taut core, putting on weight and structure, and paradoxically getting fruitier and purer. It is perhaps Portugal's greatest wine ever? It will need patience, though. Luis Seabra says that the 2005 is better still.
Jorge Borges and Sandra Tavares of Wine & Soul/Pintas, produced some great wines in 2007. As well as the lovely reds, the 2008 Guru is a serious wine. It's white (Douro whites are an emerging story) from old vines, and it has lovely grapefruit pith precision with well integrated oak. It reminds me of the very best white Bordeaux.
Jorge Moreira's Poeira is a Douro first growth, and its getting better and better. The 2007 is the wine Jorge is happiest with of all those he has made. It's focused, pure, quite elegant and is tight-wound, with a long future ahead of it.
The Symingtons (or the Syms as they are commonly known) finally have a world class red table wine in their portfolio. It's the 2007 Quinta do Vesuvio, and I really like it. 70% Touriga Nacional, 20% Touriga Franca and 10% Tinta Amarela, It's sweetly fruited, aromatic, but structured and alive, too. Fantastic stuff.