An excellent year, with wonderfully rich, ripe wines. Quantities were small and demand extremely big
A wet winter brought an end to three years of drought and when the sun began to shine in March-April the vines began to sprout in all directions. There was some concern when heavy rain fell in May but fortunately it was not unduly warm and the unsettled conditions merely served to check the overall size of the crop. From then on it was plain sailing all the way through to the harvest. The threat of rain in mid-September rekindled memories of 1993 (a quagmire) and a few growers panicked and harvested too early. The majority kept their nerve and by 20th September the grapes were fully ripe and picking was well underway. Winemakers were helped by cool clear nights which served to slow down fermentations and the lagares took plenty of work.
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It was clear as soon as the wines were run from the lagares that a fine vintage was in the bag and the shippers could hardly conceal their glee at the prospect of a major vintage declaration. By the time the wines were offered in the spring/summer of 1996 the market had recovered fully from the recession of the early 1990s with the USA having become particularly receptive to Vintage Port. Opening prices rose considerably and in some cases have continued to soar, perversely overtaking mature vintages like 1970. The wines were appealing from the start with ripe fleshy fruit concealing the underlying tannic grip that will enable these wines to stand the test of time.
Quinta da Eira Velha (Martinez)
Quinta do Vesuvio