2018 Fonseca, Guimaraens, Port, Portugal
Neal Martin, Vinous.com (February 2021)
Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com (August 2020)
Richard Mayson – richardmayson.com (February 2021)
About this WINE
Fonseca was founded in 1822 when Manuel Pedro Guimaraens acquired control of the Fonseca & Monteiro Company. As a condition of the sale, Fonseca insisted that his name be retained.
Shortly after, Manuel Pedro Guimaraens was forced to flee Portugal due to the civil war in an empty port wine cask. During this period, Fonseca grew rapidly in reputation and importance and by 1840 the firm had become the second largest shipper of Port Wine.
Today Fonseca Guimaraens is still a family wine shipper with David Guimaraens being the 6th generation involved in the industry.
In the last 40 years, Fonseca (the middle syllable rhymes with "tech") has been the most "on form" in Vintage Port years, with resounding successes in 1963, 1970, 1977, 1985, 1992, 1994 and 1997, which has created demand and, as a result, it can command the highest prices.
Fonseca is, in fact, a partner to its rival, Taylor's though the two brands have kept their separate identities. Long-lived, the vintage wines are renowned for their quality and intensity of fruit, sheer opulence, structure and balance to last for decades. Fonseca is without doubt a top name and one that everyone should aspire to try.
Much of the fruit used for Fonseca’s Vintage Port comes from Quinta do Panascal, purchased in 1978 which then undertook a substantial programme of renovation and development leading to the addition of Quinta do Val dos Muros in 1985. The property now comprises just over 76 hectares of which 44 hectares is under vine producing 858 hectolitres of Port.
All of the grapes are foot trodden in granite lagares situated on the property. Wines from the Tavora Valley are credited with their solid backbone and concentration seen in the Panascal Single Quinta Vintage Port that Fonseca produces when a general vintage declaration is not made.
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.
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A meticulously selected blend from three sites gives us this really lovely example of wine-maker David Guimaraens’ craft at its best. A vintage like 2018 lends itself to wines like these, for their extraordinary value and the quality drinking they will bring. At this stage the wine displays a sleek, svelte style concealing blue and black fruits as well as a beguiling hint of orange on the nose. This is a beauty, all the depth and class to keep it improving to its peak 2025-2050+, there’s so much to love and enjoy at any stage of its life.
Tom Cave, Cellar Plan Manager (February 2021)
Impenetrable purple-black at the centre, with a narrow band of violet on the rim. The nose is dense and compact, with impressive depth and background. The fruit quality is superb, a luscious blend of black and red berry aromas which is the hallmark feature of Fonseca’s vintage ports, mingled with notes of dark chocolate. Around this core of powerful, complex fruit is an aura of balsamic, minty scents. Although the nose is sensuous and seductive, there is an attractive firm edge, provided by graphite and a flinty minerality. The first impression on the palate is of silky smoothness but the tannins suddenly burst out on the finish with an assertive pungency and a wire of acidity runs through the wine to give it a lively freshness. There is an abundance of crisp, berry fruit flavour which carries into the long finish. This superb Guimaraens Vintage Port displays stamina and depth but is sufficiently supple and expressive for early drinking.
David Guimaraens, Head Winemaker (February 2021)
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