Tonight I’m sampling the remains of two bottles of port from last night’s declaration tasting of the various Symington properties. It’s the pair of wines from Vesuvio, the regular vintage port and the special cuvee Capela.
I was visiting the Douro during the 2011 harvest with my colleagues Chris Losh, Richard Woodard, Emily O’Hare and Patricia Langton, and we got to tread some of the grapes of the Vesuvio ports while we were there. So it’s great to make the connection with the wine that may have one or two molecules in it from my feet.
They are both beautiful wines. I’m a big fan of Vesuvio, a special Quinta that makes brilliant Ports. Even though this is technically a single quinta port, it’s usually placed somewhere around third when put into blind vintage tastings, reckons Paul Symington. It’s one of those single quinta wines that calls into question the whole concept of the vintage declaration.
But I’m not advocating abandoning the traditional concept of vintage port. While single estates can make compelling wine, what traditional vintage ports rely on – and celebrate – is the art of blending. Put together some quite different terroirs, and you can create something very special, with skilled blending.
These two wines are exceptional.
Vesuvio was purchased by the Symingtons in 1989, from 72 descendants of Dona Antonia Ferriera, but they reckon they didn’t get the quinta right until 1994. (You can read about a vertical tasting of the ports here.)
Quinta do Vesuvio 2011
Very sweet, open and pretty with with, berry and cherry fruit. Seductive, smooth and sweet with lushness and a supple personality. Lovely fruit purity, with some hidden spicy tannins adding proper structure. Very fine and velvety with real elegance. 93-96/100
Capela is a special cuvee, first made in 2007 and now made for the second time in 2011. This is from a low-yielding plot on the property called Vale da Escola. Dona Antonia built a school on this remote property, and next to this is a low-lying vineyard by the river.
To make this wine it was necessary to divide a regular lagar into four, so small was the quantity of grapes. One of these small lagars was filled with Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet; the other contained Touriga Franca and Sousao. Just 200 cases of wine were made.
Capela do Vesuvio 2011
Incredibly aromatic with tar, licqourice, mint and herb notes, as well as just a trace of pine, backing up the powerful blackcurrant fruit. Concentrated, fresh and minty on the fine palate with rich blackberry and blackcurrant fruit as well as some dense spiciness. An amazing wine of real depth and concentration. 95-98/100
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