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Port houses at odds over 2009

The two biggest Port houses have taken radically different decisions on announcing their 2009s are either 'outstanding' – or not good enough to declare.

The Fladgate Partnership, owners of Taylor’s, Croft and Fonseca, have said that all three houses will release classic vintages.

This makes 2009 the fourth vintage in a decade, Fladgate CEO Adrian Bridge said.

‘In over three centuries of making great Ports, we have seldom seen four outstanding vintages come along in a decade. Like the great landmark vintages of the early twentieth century, the 2009s are built for longevity.’

Head winemaker David Guimaraens praised the ‘colour intensity and tannic grip’ of the vintage. ‘The quality of the fruit is also impressive and the wines have excellent acidity.’

Meanwhile Symington Family Estates, owners of Graham’s, Warre’s, Dow’s, Gould Campbell and other houses, will not be declaring 2009.

‘It was an extremely dry year, with 31% less rain than normal,’ managing director Paul Symington told Decanter.com, adding that day- and night-time temperatures were on average higher than normal.

‘We had high alcohol levels and unripe tannins, so for our properties we believe that it is not right to declare 2009.’

Of the other port houses, Niepoort is declaring 2009 – Dirk Niepoort telling Decanter.com he thought it ‘the best vintage I have ever made’.

‘What strikes me about the 2009s is the balance between concentration and finesse – huge tannins but velvet structure, great aromatics with lots of spice and great fruit with no overripeness and no pruny character.’

Quinta do Noval, owned by AXA Millesimes, has made no declaration yet, managing director Christian Seely said.

  • Paul Symington said that Symington’s would be issuing one port only in 2009, a Warre’s, the profits from which are to go to a UK charity for wounded veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The charity Help for Heroes will receive £4 per bottle of the 500 cases produced of Warre’s 2009. Symington said a large part of the grapes come from the higher and cooler Quinta da Cavadinha vineyard, which ‘performed brilliantly in 2009’.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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