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Croft Vintage Port 2016
Intense purple ruby core with vivid purple rim. The nose displays the ripe strawberry and blackcurrant fruitiness and resiny notes of rock rose and eucalyptus that are the essence of the Croft Vintage Port style. The palate opens with a surge of rich berry fruit flavour and is supported by a dense mesh of close-knit tannins. Although the wine displays some of the plump, rubenesque character of prior Croft vintages, the accent here is on symmetry and finesse. The characteristically exuberant fruit and heady herbal aromas are carefully modulated and the wine is classical in its proportions. An elegant and aromatic Vintage Port, perfectly poised between opulence and restraint.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Extremely perfumed with dark-berry and currant aromas. Hints of earth and spices. Full-bodied, round and medium sweet. Hints of resin. Opulent yet restrained. Shows ripe and beautiful fruit with clarity. Try in 2025.
Inky and rich with not-too-sweet and toasty flavors; spicy and incredibly nuanced; fresh, generous, and ageworthy from a lateripening season in the Douro Valley.
The 2016 Vintage Port is a field blend that was set to be bottled about a week after this tasting. It was the final blend, aged for 20 months in wood. It comes in with 104 grams of residual sugar. Tight, powerful and very intense, this is a big boy with the firmness you expect from fine Vintage Port, although the Fonseca is even more powerful. Showing good concentration and a fresh, lifted finish too, this is impressive at the outset. Initially, I was wowed by this. A few more tastes with more air made me think I'd like to see it prove some things in the cellar. It's not hot, but it seems a bit more alcoholic than its Fonseca and Taylor siblings. Still, there's a long way to go before making a final call. As noted, this is very tight, not nearly as approachable as many 2016s are in this relatively restrained year. It won't sear your mouth with tannins—they are not TOO hard—but you are going to have to cellar it a while to allow it to acquire more complexity and more harmony. I'm not quite convinced this will ever become as attractive as Taylor and Fonseca in this vintage, though.
The House of Croft, founded in 1678, was one of the earliest shippers of Port wines and since the seventeenth century, has been renowned for the excellence of its production.The family first became involved in wine shipping through their connection with a distinguished family of merchants, the Thompsons of York. The Thompsons had been trading with Portugal since 1660 and when Thomas Croft married Frances, daughter of Sir Stephen Thompson, it was only natural that the two families should combine their business interests in the wine trade.
Near river, rail and road transport and lying against a backdrop of rugged mountainous scenery, Roêda is considered to be the finest Port estate in Portugal. And today, it is from its own famous Quinta da Roêda, in the centre of the Douro valley, that Croft annually sends down to its lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia the fine wines that constitute the best of Croft's production.The twentieth century directors and managers of Croft & Co. have assiduously pursued the fine quality and reputation they inherited. The House of Croft has continued to play a dominant role in the development of the Port trade, both in Portugal and internationally.
Best known for intense, impressive and age-worthy fortified wines, Portugal relies almost exclusively on its many indigenous grape varieties. Bordering Spain to its north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean on its west and south coasts, this is a land where tradition reigns supreme, due to its relative geographical and, for much of the 20th century, political isolation. A long and narrow but small country, Portugal claims considerable diversity in climate and wine styles, with milder weather in the north and significantly more rainfall near the coast.
While Port (named after its city of Oporto on the Atlantic Coast at the end of the Douro Valley), made Portugal famous, Portugal is also an excellent source of dry red and white wines of various styles.
The Duoro Valley produces full-bodied and concentrated dry red wines made from the same set of grape varieties used for Port, which include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Spain’s Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão, among a long list of others in minor proportions.
Other dry wines include the tart, slightly effervescent Vinho Verde white wine, made in the north, and the bright, elegant reds and whites of the Dão as well as the bold, and fruit-driven reds and whites of the southern, Alentejo.
The nation’s other important fortified wine, Madeira, is produced on the eponymous island off the North African coast.
Blended from the most important red grapes of the Douro Valley, Port is the famous fortified wine from Portugal. It is based on the Touriga Nacional grape with over 80 other varieties approved for use in the blend. However, typically about four other varieties play a major role: Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Touriga Francesa. Other wine regions of the world can produce fortified wine of a similar style from the same grapes or other grapes.
There are numerous styles of Port: Ruby, Tawny, Vintage, LBV, White, Colheita, and a few unusual others.
Ruby ports usually pack the most value and are ready to drink once bottled. Typical characteristics are ripe cherry and blackberry flavors with stewed plums, cocoa and dates.
Tawny ports are “tawny” in color and have flavors of toffee, caramel, toasted pecans, vanilla, dried apricot, citrus peel, green figs and roasted espresso. The age designation on a Tawny Port indicates the average vintage age of the grapes in the bottle. These are not intended to be aged once bottled.
When Port is made with high quality grapes selected from a single notable vintage, it is called Vintage Port. Some of the best recent vintages are 2016, 2011, 2007, 2003, 2000, 1997 and 1994. Vintage Ports are complex and full-bodied with many flavors possible: concentrated blackberry, black cherry, raspberry and spice, smoke, coffee and chocolate. Vintage ports tend to improve in the bottle up to approximately 30 years from the vintage.
LBV Port comes from a single-vintage Ruby Port and may spend six years in the barrel before being bottled. These are ready to drink upon release. Serve most Ports slightly chilled at around 55-65°F.