I’m a big fan of Port, but I recognize that the Port industry is not best known for its innovation. Shackled by the weight of tradition, and restricted to seasonal sales, it’s a sector in need of some new ideas. There’s pink Port, of course, which I find a bit odd, but which has the potential to bring new drinkers to the Port category. And then there’s the repackaging of proper Port.
Quinta do Noval’s ‘Noval Black’ is a brilliant idea. The simple label and the direct name are inspired. The wine is pretty good, too, of the quality of a decent LBV with slightly grippy, sweet raspberry pastille fruit with a hint of raisiny richness. It’s dense, spicy and quite pure. I’m drinking it now and it is delicious.
While I like the packaging, I think they bottled it slightly, in that the didn’t go far enough. They should have been a bit more radical: same name and label, but in modern 50 cl bottles. Or even using mock old-style bottles of the sort that Klein Constantia do for their Vin de Constance. And in terms of the wine, maybe they should push it a bit more, with greater fruit intensity and extraction. A black wine that startles the senses.
For those who wish to know more, there’s a dedicated website (www.novalblack.com), but it has a really annoying flash design with a daft birthdate entry system. Recommended retail is £14.99 in the UK.