Fonseca Guimaraens Port 1996
From the legendary 1840, Fonseca's first Vintage Port release, to the superb declared vintages of the last decade, the house has produced a succession of highly acclaimed wines even in the most adverse moments of history.
This consistency derives not only from continuity of family involvement, and the knowledge and skill passed down from one generation to the next, but also a close link with the vineyard. The firm's three estates of Cruzeiro, Panascal and Santo António are the heart of the distinctive character of Fonseca's Vintage Ports.
Fonseca's respect for the vineyard and the unique environment of the Douro Valley expresses itself in the firm's leadership in the field of sustainable and organic viticulture. It was the first house to offer a Port made entirely from organically produced grapes.
As it approaches its bicentenary, Fonseca can take pride in its past and look forward to the future with confidence. Wine drinkers increasingly seek wines of authenticity and character with a genuine story to tell and made by creative winemakers who understand their terroir and respect the environment.
Perhaps more than any other Port house, Fonseca has built a loyal community of Port enthusiasts who value its individuality and the inimitable character of its wines. These include connoisseurs, collectors, sommeliers and restaurateurs as well as those who simply enjoy drinking its wonderfully rich and complex Ports.
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 Douro 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.
Port is a sweet, fortified wine with numerous styles: Ruby, Tawny, Vintage, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), White, Colheita, and a few unusual others. It is blended from from the most important red grapes of the Douro Valley, based primarily on Touriga Nacional with over 80 other varieties approved for use. Most Ports are best served slightly chilled at around 55-65°F.