The 2009 declaration tasting
Ports from the Fladgate Partnership: Taylor's, Fonseca and Croft, with previous vintages for comparison

In what was, to many, a surprising move, the Fladgate Partnership declared on April 23 2011 that they would be declaring 2009 as a vintage Port year.

Why was this surprising? I remember being in the Douro during harvest in 2009, and it was unseasonally hot. The summer had been very warm and dry. Consequently, harvest was much earlier than normal, although it was completed in completely dry conditions. People thought it was just too warm to be a great year. But the wines ended up being much better than expected.  

‘2009 was a difficult year for a winemaker,’ said Fladgate MD Adrian Bridge. ‘It’s definitely a year when a winemaker earns his or her money.’

‘Picking at the right time and having lots of old vines is important. We were relying heavily on old vines as they have the established root structure, and can deal with drought. Hence we have a Vinha Velha this year.’

‘Foot treading also matters,’ he continues. ‘We haven’t given up on it because we still think it makes the best wines.’ Bridge reintroduced foot treading for Croft, which they purchased in 2000.

Production is down from the last declared year, 2007, because of the low yields. In 2007, 14 000 cases of Taylor’s were released; 2009 will produce just 9000 cases.

Interestingly, these are the densest, darkest wines that have been made for a long time. The level of total phenolics in 2009 was 2.6, reveals Bridge, whereas in 2007 it was 1.6. This makes it the highest level recorded for 30 years.

This tasting showed off the 2009s, but also matched them with the other three declared vintages of the 2000s: 2000, 2003 and 2007. I really liked them. While they are amazingly rich and sweet, they also have wonderful structure under the intense fruit. And they don’t lack any freshness. I reckon they’ll age beautifully for a long time.


Taylor’s 2009
Intense, vivid nose is spicy and dense with lovely bright aromatics, as well as some violet florality. The palate is rich and bold with lots of sweetness. Generous, with smooth, intense fruit and firm yet fine-grained tannins. Massive fruit and lovely structure. Brilliant. 95–97/100

Taylor’s Vargellas Vinha Velha 2009
300 cases produced. Brooding, intense nose showing lively, spicy, rich blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. The palate shows elegance and power with lovely firm structure and good acidity under the sweet, dense fruit. Firm, fine-grained tannins. 95–97/100

Fonseca 2009
Smooth, ripe, aromatic nose is lush and rich, with ripe – almost creamy – blackcurrant and raspberry fruit. Very sweet on the palate yet lively, vibrant and fresh, showing broad texture and some appealing tannic grip. Fine grained yet firm tannins combine well with very sweet fruit. 94–96/100

Croft 2009
Sweet, generous blackberry and cherry fruit dominates the nose. Rich, bold palate with some fruit concentration and nice structure. Freshness and ripeness here: a lovely Port. 92–94/100


Taylor’s 2007
Bold and structured, yet beginning to mellow a little. Dense blackberry fruit. Fine. 95/100

Taylor’s Vargellas Vinhas Velha 2007
Elegant and precise with lovely raspberry and blackcurrant fruit. Real finesse and elegance here. 96/100

Fonseca 2007
Dense, generous blackberry fruit here: quite rich, broad and mouthfilling. Fine structure. Great balance. 96/100

Croft 2007
Nice structure, again: lovely expressive berry fruits with good density. 93/100


Taylor’s Vargellas Vinhas Velhas 2004
Striking nose, with a fantastic leathery, spicy dimension to the plum and cherry fruit. Quite breathtaking. The palate has beautiful, rounded, smoothly structured plum, cherry and herb notes. Concentrated with quite beautiful poise. 97/100


Taylor’s 2003
Beautifully elegant and beginning to evolve nicely. Concentrated berry and plum fruit with lovely structure. Great definition: a superb Port. 96/100

Fonseca 2003
Supple, smooth and sweet with richness and elegance. Very lush and rounded with sweet blackberry fruit and a spicy finish. Smooth and sweet. 95/100

Croft 2003
Fine, fresh, spicy nose. Lively with cherry and blackberry fruit. Approachable, sweet pure fruit on the palate. Expressive and direct. 92/100


Taylor’s 2000
Beautifully elegant, expressive nose. Floral sweet cherry fruit. Real elegance. The palate is smooth with lovely fruit and some fine-grained tannins. Just beautiful, evolving really nicely in a linear way. 97/100

Taylor’s Vargellas Vinhas Velhas 2000
Rich, ripe and smooth with lovely pure black cherry and plum fruit. Floral and expressive. The palate has great purity and elegance, with pure, focused cherry fruit and fine structure. Almost a Burgundian style of Port. 97/100

Fonseca 2000
Sweet and lush with ripe, smooth blackberry fruit. Very sweet, bold and rich with good intensity and some fine, mineral, spicy notes under the fruit. Interesting stuff. 95/100

Croft 2000
Fladgate purchased this property while the wines had already been made, and did a selection, adding in some wine from other quintas, to try to bring the wine up to the required standard. 91/100

See also:


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

Wines tasted 05/10 
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