David Guimaraens selects this small lot from the oldest vines at Vargellas, Taylor's home base in the Douro Superior. The vines are planted on steep terraces in a north-facing amphitheater, many of them dating to a monovarietal planting in the 1920s. Vargellas is widely regarded as one of the great vineyards of the Douro, and this wine is yet another affirmation of its class. Start with a heavy iron pole to pound the schist and crush it into plantable soil. Breathe the scent of esteva, a green, sappy shrub that grows at the high perimeters of the vineyard. Taste the fruit of the grapes, right in the middle of the wine, a vibrant red that stands above sweet blueberry flavor before schist tannins crush it. Each taste is a heady blast, a Ralph Steadman illustration of dizzy, drunken pleasure. Easily a 50-year wine, this is destined to be a classic.
The 2007 Vargellas 'Vinha Velha' from Taylor-Fladgate is a beautiful young Port, with more obvious power than the regular Taylors bottling, but with the same great acidity, purity and seamless balance of its stable-mate. The bouquet is deep, vibrant and sappy, as it soars from the glass in a blaze of black cherries, pomegranate, black pepper, a brilliantly complex base of soil tones, fennel seed, bonfires, fresh herbs and cigar box aromas. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, deep and powerfully built, with a great core of pure fruit, beautifully tangy acids, substantial, well-integrated tannins, great focus and structure and a very long, powerful and perfectly poised finish of immeasurable length. This is not as obviously elegant as the regular Taylor-Fladgate 2007, but it is every bit as good as that wine in a more powerfully-built and probably classic Taylors style. Both Ports are dizzyingly brilliant, and it will be very interesting to track these over the coming decades and see which one wears the crown of 'best in house' at the end of the day. I am sure that some will prefer the impeccably balanced power of the Vinha Velha, while others will be smitten by the unparalleled refinement of the very intense regular bottling. Today it is too close to call which of these brilliant wines will land at the slightly higher level. (Drink between 2035-2135) 97+ points
The 2007 Vinha Velha retains a primal bouquet that opens nicely with scents of small dark cherries, crushed stone, strawberry preserve and fig jam that is well-defined and shows more composure than the regular Taylor’s. The palate is medium-bodied, with fine tannins and layers of spicy black fruit with touches of clove and white pepper emerging in the elegant but intense finish. There is a slight austerity here that lends this Port class and breeding. This is designed for serious Port lovers. Tasted May 2013. (NM)
Dark and brooding, with blackberry, wet earth, spice and blueberry notes, turning to flowers. Full-bodied and medium sweet, with a fabulous depth of fruit and layered ripe tannins. Goes on for minutes on the palate. Such finesse and elegance, yet also power. (JS)
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