The 2014 Reserva Old Vines, a field blend from vines averaging around 70 years, was aged in an 85/15 mixture of French and American oak for 16 to 18 months (depending on plot). About two-thirds of the wood was new, the rest second use. This is a very respectable offering in this tough vintage. There are two factors that go into that. First, said Manuel Lobo, normal production was cut notably (normally, he said, there would be 25% to 30% more) as there was a stricter selection. Second, the south-facing vineyards that Crasto owns did better, Manuel said, and some north-facing vineyards were eliminated from the blend. (He said: "Three of the plots didn’t make the final blend, and Vinha da Ponte was bottled separately. Vinha Maria Teresa is part of the final blend.") This was opened about three hours in advance of tasting. It is noticeably modest in the mid-palate, very much on the lighter side, but it compensates with its refined and elegant presentation. Surprisingly silky this year, it is fresh and lively, with some grip and complexity on the finish to go with its refinement. As with many 2014s, it seems very accessible very young and I have to wonder if there is much upside to it this year. That does constrain my enthusiasm a bit, but that is an issue for the longer term. For the moment, in its youth and the mid-term, it seems both lovely and irresistible. It is a perfect food wine with some distinction and lift. (MS)
A focused red, with supple, streamlined flavors of blackberry, bay leaf and steeped plum. Spice and iron notes show on the finish. Offers moderate, integrated tannins. Decant. (GS)
Field blend. 16 months 85% in French oak and 15% in American oak. Dark black cherry colour. Dark and dry and savoury on the palate. Dense dark fruit and paper-fine layers of tannin. Oak quite evident at the moment but should settle down, a slight mushroom note making it more savoury. Dry but fresh finish. Real intensity here but freshness too, and the lightness of touch of old-vine field blend. Real refinement in a region that can be overipe or overpowering. 17.5/20 points. Drink 2019-2030. (JH)
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