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2007 Vintage Ports
Assessing the latest declaration

Tasting young vintage Ports can be a challenge. They all tend to have a sense of deliciousness to them, with abundant fruit, and this intensity of up-front flavour can lead you astray in your assessments. Dirk Niepoort recently hosted a tasting of young vintage Ports in which he attempted to show this by offering tasters the same Ports after they had just been opened, after they had been open for a while, and after they had been decanted for two days. I didn’t attend, but he tells me that what this showed is that the wines that were better after a couple of days were generally the best wines, and that the wines which initially flattered but didn’t have any substance were found out by this process. 

I wouldn’t count myself as a seasoned expert in assessing young Vintage Port, but I’ve been following Port for a few years now, and I’d hope that I was beginning to get the hang of assessing these wines early in their lives. But I wanted to add this caveat to my assessments of the Ports from the 2007 vintage: it’s not an easy call to make.

The notes below come from a preview tasting of cask samples in May 2009 (as is usual for cask samples, I’ve given my score as a range, which takes into account that these are not finished wines) and then a visit to the Douro in September 2009 when I was able to taste finished wines. I also tasted one of the wines (Niepoort) at home; this wasn’t included in the preview tasting. For the sake of completeness, all notes are included, even where they are duplicated.

My views on 2007? It seems to be a pretty spectacular vintage, with very fresh, pure fruit characteristics. Many of these Ports will be approachable young, but the best ones also have the potential to age for 50 years. I could buy a few cases of these wines and drink them for the rest of my life. How cool is that?

The 2007 Port en primeur campaign was launched earlier this year amid global financial crisis, yet from speaking to producers who made an offer, it seems to have gone brilliantly well with most of the top wines selling out quickly. It is extremely unlikely that 2008 and 2009 will be declared by most houses, even though the wines will be of very good quality in most cases.

Croft 2007
Lovely floral aromatics to the fruit. Vibrant, intense and quite forward. The palate shows bright fruit with some earthy spicy structure. Attractive rather than profound. 92/100 (09/09)

Croft 2007
Very attractive with a pure, open, sweetly fruited nose. The palate is concentrated and dense with sweet fruit and a slightly earthy undercurrent. 91–93/100 (05/09)

Fonseca 2007
Wonderful violetty floral aromatics together with a lovely complex spicy dimension on the nose. The palate has beautifully expressive fruit. Concentrated, vibrant and amazing fruity but with some earthy complexity too. 97/100 (09/09)

Fonseca 2007
Concentrated and dense with lovely vivid, sweet, vibrant fruit. Nicely structured, but a bit dumb on this showing. 92–95/100 (05/09)

Taylor 2007
Amazing aromatics: violets, pure black fruits, dark cherry. The palate is pure, vibrant and fruity, yet nicely structured. Almost perfect. Dense yet fresh and superbly fruity. 97/100 (09/09)

Taylor 2007
Sweet, pure and quite elegant with lovely purity of fruit. Perhaps not as concentrated as some. 92–94/100 (05/09)

Dow 2007
Beautiful aromatics: sweet, pure, floral, violetty. Just beautiful. Very sweet concentrated, dense palate with lovely purity. Fantastic stuff. 93–96/100 (05/09)

Graham 2007
Vivid, intense and wonderfully fresh with amazing fruit purity and substantial structure. Fantastic purity and intensity: this is wonderful stuff. 93–96 (05/09)

Smith Woodhouse 2007
Dense, generous, rich and quite pure with some spiciness. Quite delicious and really vibrant. 91–93/100 (05/09)

Quinta do Vesuvio 2007
Beautifully vibrant aromatics: sweet, pure and rich. Beautiful fruit on the palate. Vibrant and expressive. 93–95/100 (05/09)

Warre 2007
Very dense, sweet and pure with lovely concentration of pure, lively fruit. Really expressive and dense. A lovely wine. 92–95/100 (05/09)

Niepoort 2007
Tasted from half bottle. Deeply coloured. Warm nose is currently a little muted, but the palate is explosive with beautifully expressive violet, blackberry and blackcurrant fruit backed up by firm tannins and vivid acidity. A concentrated wine with amazing structure and acidity, and a potentially huge life ahead of it. A serious effort, but don't think about drinking it young. My rating may be a bit conservative because of this. 96/100 (08/09)

Quinta do Noval 2007
Superconcentrated; an extremely deep colour. Complex, multilayered nose of sweet pure dark fruits with spicy depth. The palate has lushness and purity to the concentrated dark fruit. Vividly spicy and tannic. An incredible young Vintage Port. 98/100 (09/09)

Quinta do Noval 2007
Beautifully intense, firm dark fruits nose. The palate is super-concentrated and dense with elegant structure. Just fantastic: an amazing wine. 94–97/100 (05/09)

Slival 2007
Brooding, intense, focused dark fruits nose. Fresh, with lovely fruit focus. The palate is concentrated and fresh with vivid dark fruits and some spicy structure. A brilliant wine. 95/100 (09/09)

Silval 2007
Incredible aromatics. Super-sweet, pure and refined. The palate shows fantastic fruit purity and density. Just lovely, and one of the bargains of the vintage. 93–96/100 (05/09)

Quinta de Romaneira 2007
Fantastically focused dark spicy nose with amazing floral aromatics, and blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. The palate is dense with focused dark fruits and notes of olive, spice, and complex herby notes. Very pure fruit. Really vinous. 95/100

Quinta de Romaneira 2007
Beautifully elegant with bright, fresh fruit. Pure with lovely dark fruit. Fantastic fruit purity here. 93–96/100 (05/09)

see also: my write up on the 2003 Vintage Ports

Wines tasted as indicated  
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