(Jancis Robinson MW - jancisrobinson.com – October 2004)
About this WINE
The first Taylor joined in 1816, followed later by a Fladgate and a Yeatman. Taylor’s is the only Port wine shipper to remain completely independent throughout its history. British ownership continues to this day, when, after the last Yeatman, Dick, died in 1966, the firm passed via his widow to her nephew, Alistair Robertson.
Adrian Bridge, Alistair's son-in-law, is the current Managing Director. David Guimarãens leads the winemaking team that is responsible for maintaining Taylor’s position as a premium Port wine producer.
In addition to Vintage Port, Taylor's has also enjoyed considerable success with its Quinta de Vargellas, under which label Vintage wine is made in good years that have not been declared.The range has been augmented by the 116-hectare Quinta de Terra Feita in the Pinhão valley and Quinta do Junco, Vila Nova da Gaia and Xisto.
The Port wines are typically closed and austere when young; it is only with adequate ageing that they loosen up and offer their subliminal qualities. Worth waiting for, though, to secure stocks one is best advised to buy young.
Single Quinta Vintage
Single Quinta Vintage Port is currently one of the most exciting Port categories, which could potentially challenge the dominance of true Vintage Port in years to come. Single Quinta Port is made in much the same way as Vintage: aged for two to three years in cask before bottling without filtration – and is generally produced from a Port house’s finest single vineyard, in years that are not declared. In a vintage year, the grapes from these vineyards – like Quinta dos Malvedos for Graham and Quinta de Vargellas for Taylor – will be used as the backbone of the blend and not bottled in their own right.
The more approachable, earlier-maturing Single Quinta Ports enable producers to satisfy demand for Vintage Port while retaining the rarity and caché of its top Port. Single Quinta Ports are not normally as good as true Vintage Port, but there are notable exceptions. Quinta do Vesuvio, Quinta do Noval and Quinta de la Rosa are all produced in vintage years and can be every bit good as their more famous, multi-vineyard rivals. Indeed the greatest and rarest Vintage Port in existence is from a single vineyard: Quinta do Noval Nacional.
Single Quinta Vintage Ports were traditionally sold when the Port house believed they were ready to drink, around eight to 10 years after the harvest, but as they become more serious and more popular, some are released as soon as they are bottled. Single Quinta Ports should be decanted before serving and, with some notable long-lived exceptions, generally age for around 15 to 20 years.
There are around 40 different grape varieties permitted in the production of Port - however the vast majority of Ports are produced from a blend of 5 grapes - Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, and Tinto Cão.
Touriga Nacional produces small, dark-skinned grapes that produce opaque black wines of great extract and high tannins - it gives grip, body, and structure to the blend.
Touriga Franca has a thinner skin and consequently produces wines lighter in colour and tannins than Touriga Nacional. It contributes fruit, aroma, suppleness and roundness.
Tinta Roriz is the Portuguese name for Tempranillo and its high sugar content and low acidity contribute colour and fruit.
Tinta Barroca which is normally grown at highish altitudes and on north-facing slopes, is prized for producing wines of delicacy, finesse and with smooth, velvety fruit. It brings elegance and sweet, ripe fruit to the final blend.
Finally Tinto Cão produces fine and complex wines, though it is probably the least important of the 5 grapes as its painfully small yields have reduced plantings to almost insignificant levels.