Fonseca Vintage Port 2017
Fonseca’s three vineyards—Quinta do Panascal, Quinta de Cruzeiro and Quinta de Santo António—all form the backbone of the famous Fonseca Vintage Portos, produced only in vintages that are “declared” as being of the highest quality. Fonseca is recognized across the Douro as a leader of viticultural practices for Porto and has spearheaded development of organic and sustainable programs across the region. The fruit for Fonseca’s Vintage Portos is trod by foot in granite lagares on the estate. The wine is aged for two years in oak before being bottled unfiltered.
A dense, opaque wine with classic Fonseca aromas and flavors: dense blackberry and blackcurrant, spice, coffee, cocoa, and prune. Thick, velvety tannins give the wine a voluptuous density on the palate. This wine will develop for decades in the bottle.
Pairs well with blue cheese and desserts made with dark chocolate or berries. It should be decanted before serving due to sediment in the bottle.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The wine’s fine perfumed black plum fruits give a wonderful jammy character while bringing out a fresh edge. These are balanced by the dry core of this beautiful wine with its rich, generous tannins. It will all come together from 2030 in a very fine, integrated wine. Kobrand.
The 2017 Vintage Port, not quite bottled when originally seen, has now been in bottle for a couple of years. It is a field blend (with typical grapes like Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca) aged for approximately 20 months in used French oak. It comes in with 98 grams of residual sugar. This is a great Fonseca, distinctive, with a touch of eucalyptus and plums, but also loaded with delicious fruit. Like its Taylor's siblings, there is also a fine backbone. I'd say it is a step behind the Taylor's duo this year, but not by much. It will age well, to say the least. Beat after 2030.
This wine contrasts sunny black-cherry lusciousness with sous bois shadows of schist, black mushroom and conifer. Then there’s the dark-chocolate freshness that pegs it as a Vale Mendiz classic, grown in the hills above Pinhão. The arid year lent tar-black earthiness, and the oak is a little prominent right now, but neither impinges on the wine’s clear identity. My last note after three days of blind tasting: “I’d like to own that.”
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.
The home of Port—perhaps the most internationally acclaimed beverage—the Douro region of Portugal is one of the world’s oldest delimited wine regions, established in 1756. The vineyards of the Douro, set on the slopes surrounding the Douro River (known as the Duero in Spain), are incredibly steep, necessitating the use of terracing and thus, manual vineyard management as well as harvesting. The Douro's best sites, rare outcroppings of Cambrian schist, are reserved for vineyards that yield high quality Port.
While more than 100 indigenous varieties are approved for wine production in the Douro, there are five primary grapes that make up most Port and the region's excellent, though less known, red table wines. Touriga Nacional is the finest of these, prized for its deep color, tannins and floral aromatics. Tinta Roriz (Spain's Tempranillo) adds bright acidity and red fruit flavors. Touriga Franca shows great persistence of fruit and Tinta Barroca helps round out the blend with its supple texture. Tinta Cão, a fine but low-yielding variety, is now rarely planted but still highly valued for its ability to produce excellent, complex wines.
White wines, generally crisp, mineral-driven blends of Arinto, Viosinho, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina and an assortment of other rare but local varieties, are produced in small quantities but worth noting.
With hot summers and cool, wet winters, the Duoro has a maritime climate.
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.