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Leading Port producers declare a 2020 vintage

Port producers Taylor’s and Quinta do Noval have both declared a 2020 vintage after noticing extraordinarily high levels of sugar.

Taylor’s expects the 2020 vintage to show ‘elegance and structure’, while Quinta do Noval said the wines promise density, harmony and richness.

Port Houses only declare a vintage when at least one of their vineyard plots yields exceptional fruit. Taylor’s has decided that Quinta de Vargellas, located in the wild and hilly eastern reaches of the Douro Valley, fits the bill for 2020.

It is just the 15th time since 1980 that Quinta de Vargellas has declared a vintage. It also declared in 2019, marking the Quinta’s first back-to-back declarations since 2001 and 2002.

Adrian Bridge, managing director at the Fladgate Partnership, which owns Taylor’s, Fonseca, Croft and Krohn, said: ‘We are delighted with the Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vintage 2020 which shows the elegance and structure that we associate with this excellent property.

‘This vintage will remain in our cellars and will be released at a later date, thus satisfying the future demand for Single Quinta Vintage Ports.’

Quinta do Noval reported an unusually short harvest in 2020, which witnessed a very hot summer, but it was suitably impressed with the quality of the grapes.

It has declared Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port 2020 and Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2020.

Managing director Christian Seely said: ‘We were aware from the beginning that the Nacional was outstanding, and the wine has developed wonderfully since the harvest. There are years when we know straight after the treading in lagar that we will be declaring a Nacional Vintage Port, and 2020 was one of these.

‘The wine displays the complexity and many-layered profundity that are typical of a great Nacional.’

Sogevinus Group, which owns the Kopke, Burmester, Cálem and Barros brands, declared 2020 to be a classic vintage. The extreme weather and constraints caused by the Covid-19 pandemic led to a challenging harvest, and yields are low across the region, but Sogevinus reported a strong skin-to-pulp and a high sugar content, which allows for longer fermentations and exemplary extraction of colour and tannins.

‘The harvest was marked by a series of adversities that made this one of the most challenging years in my career,’ said master blender Carlos Alves. ‘Despite the adversity, this was a vintage that exceeded all expectations, and from which we believe we have produced wines of excellent quality, with very refined tannins, displaying a certain elegance in the wines.’

David Guimaraens, Taylor’s head winemaker, echoed those sentiments. He said there is ‘no living memory’ of such a hot July and that the extreme conditions repeatedly led to the unwanted phenomenon of scorching. However, August was cooler than usual in 2020, which accelerated the ripening of the grapes. 

He said the 2020 season will be characterised for its extremely low yields, resulting directly from the climatic conditions of the year. The conditions were similar to the 2009 and 1820 harvests, where the sugar levels reached extraordinarily high levels.

‘The variability of locations in the mountain viticulture of the Douro Valley plays a key role in extreme years like this, allowing the production of excellent Port wines as is the case of this Quinta de Vargellas 2020,’ added Guimaraens.

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