Fonseca: Quinta do Panascal
Visiting the one of the leading Port companies in the beautiful Douro region of Portugal, part 3

One of the greatest of the Port houses, Fonseca has been part of the Taylor Fladgate and Yeatman group since the late 1940s. It was founded in 1822, and by 1840 had become the second largest shipper of Port.  The house style is one of richness and complexity.

Much of the modern reputation of Fonseca is based on the work of Bruce Guimaraens (who made the vintages from 1960 to 1992) and his son David (who has made the wines since 1994). The heart of the blend comes from Quinta do Panascal in the Tavora Valley of the Douro, a 76 hectare property with 44 hectares of vineyards that was purchased by Fonseca in 1978. Other Quintas owned by Fonseca are Quinta de Sao António, with 12 hectares of vines, and Quinta do Cruzeiro with 13 hectares; both are located in the Pinhão Valley of the Cima Corgo.

As well as the thrilling Vintage Port and excellent Guimaraens and Panascal single quinta bottlings, Fonseca also make an impressive, fruit-driven organic Port, Terra Prima. Entry level bottling Bin 27 shows some personality and is great value for money.

Of these Quintas, we visited Quinta do Panascal, which is the jewel in Fonseca’s crown. Located up the Tavora valley (the Tavora is a tributary of the Douro) in the Cima Corgo, it’s quite spectacular. While we were there, two lagares were full and were being worked by teams using wooden poles. This is winemaking as it would have been performed centuries ago, and this was quite a contrast with the more modern surroundings of the Nogueira winery.

Panascal had been supplying grapes to Fonseca for over 20 years when Fonseca purchased the Quinta in 1978. In the 1980s the Quinta was enlarged by annexing the next-door Quinta do Val dos Muros. There are now 44 hectares under vine. Major varieties are Tinta Roriz (30%), Touriga Francesa (23%), Touriga Nacional (19%) and Tinta Barocca (18%).


Fonseca Bin No 27
Beautifully floral aromatics. Very fresh with a hint of mint. Lovely palate is fresh and fruity. This tastes much more expensive than it is. (£10.49 Tesco, Morrisons)

Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Reserve
Vivid, rich and focused with lovely aromatics. The palate is fresh and vibrant with lovely focused blackberry fruit. Fresh and enticing. 90/100 (£14.49 Waitrose)

Fonseca LBV 2003 Unfiltered
Intense, rich, spicy and focused with a bit of earthiness under the fruit. Tasty and vibrant. Delicious. 89/100 (£11.99 Majestic)

Fonseca 10 Year Old Tawny
Quite fresh and spicy with lovely vibrancy and nice spiciness. Complex, sweet and still quite fruity. 90/100

Fonseca 20 Year Old Tawny
Orange/brown colour. Lovely complex nose: aromatic, cedary. The palate is mouthfilling with real intensity and spicy complexity. Rich and bold. 93/100

Fonseca 40 Year Old Tawny
Orange/brown colour. Complex, lifted aromatic nose with herbs, nuts and spice, as well as hints of old furniture. The palate is powerful, sweet, complex and nutty with almost a salty dimension. Superconcentrated with a long finish. 95/100

Fonseca Quinta do Panascal 1998
Beautfiully complex, vibrant, spicy nose. Very spicy, and a bit earthy. The palate is evolved and complex with the earthy, spicy notes dominating. 91/100

Fonseca Quinta do Panascal 2005
Distinctive earthy, spicy edge to the nose, with a prominent savoury dimension. The palate is dense, earthy and spicy with a strong savouriness. Distinctive. 92/100

Fonseca Vintage Port 2003
Wonderful nose with some floral notes as well as a spicy earthiness. Multidimensional. The palate is warm, dense and spicy with smooth fruit and plenty of structure. Wonderful density and complexity. 94/100

Fonseca Vintage Port 2007
Violetty floral aromatics together with a lovely complex spicy dimension on the nose. The palate has beautifully expressive fruit with vibrant presence and earthy complexity. A thrilling Port. 97/100


Introduction: visiting Taylor, Croft and Fonseca in Portugal's Douro
Taylor's Port, and Quinta de Vargellas
Fonseca's Port, and Quinta da Panascal
Croft Port and Quinta da Roeda
The Nogueira Winery: making Port
The Yeatman, a new luxury hotel in Porto
The 2008 single Quinta Ports from Taylor, Fonseca and Croft
Photos from the Douro Valley, Part 5, Taylor's Vargellas and Fonseca's Panascal
Photos from the Douro Valley, part 4
Photos from the Douro Valley, part 3, Croft's Quinta da Roeda, Douro

See also:

Part 2, Photographs from Quinta do Noval
Part 3, Photographs from Quinta do Noval's Nacional Vineyard
Part 4, Tasting Noval Nacional and Vintage Port back to 1962
An older report on Noval's table wines
The new Douro (series)
Vintage Ports from 2007 assessed
Vintage Ports from 2003 assessed

Wines tasted as 09/09  
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