The wine’s fine perfumed black plum fruits give a wonderful jammy character while bringing out a fresh edge. These are balanced by the dry core of this beautiful wine with its rich, generous tannins. It will all come together from 2030 in a very fine, integrated wine. (RV)
The 2017 Vintage Port, not quite bottled when seen but the final blend, is a field blend (with typical grapes like Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca) aged for approximately 20 months in used French oak. It comes in with 98 grams of residual sugar, a little drier on paper than its Taylor sibling this year. Sappy and sensational in flavor and fruit, this seemingly has moderate tannins around the edges on first taste, velvety texture and a long finish. Despite the first impression of moderation, there is plenty of power here. As it got some aeration, it showed nothing but power and closed down fairly hard. The combination of great fruit and fine structure makes this a potentially great Fonseca, but right now it is obviously immature and not showing everything it has. I'd recommend some patience here. (MS)
Dark and dense, with fig bread, baker's chocolate and tar notes leading off before the core flavors of plum, black currant and blackberry paste finally start to emerge. The wild, spirited finish shows cast iron, licorice snap and roasted alder elements, delivering a decidedly chewy feel. A big, old-school, throwback Port that will age at a glacial pace. Best from 2035 through 2060. (JM)
Already beautifully integrated, this is showing great purity and poise. It's open and in its first bloom of youth, with lovely aromatic red berry fruit and floral aromas, plus a touch of leafiness. It's soft and fleshy initially, seemingly not as big as its stablemate Taylor's - and not quite so deep in colour - though with dark chocolate concentration and mid-palate firmness. Lovely full, ripe tannins mass in the mouth, well defined, with fresh berry fruit remerging on the broad, expansive finish. (RM)
Ripe and soft with loads of plummy, smoky and earthy character. Full body. Very sweet. Round and very soft textured. Flavorful finish. Drink in 2025 and onwards.
Picking began at Quinta do Panascal on September 6, the two other quintas in Pinhão that form the 2017 Fonseca Vintage Port, Cruzeiro and Santo António picked on 10 and 17 September respectively. One of the deepest, most opaque color amongst the new Port alumni, it has one of the most backward, almost recalcitrant noses that demands a lot of aeration. It gradually opens to reveal blackberry, melted tar, thyme, clove and violet aromas that are well defined, if maybe just missing the same breeding as Taylor’s. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin. This is fresh and detailed, a slightly more structured Fonseca than expected, quite strict at first with good grip and a lightly spiced, precise finish. Powerful and long on the aftertaste, you can feel this Fonseca 60 seconds after the wine has exited. It deserves 10-15 years in bottle. Excellent, but patience required. The most enigmatic of the 2017 Vintage Ports. Total production is 8,100 cases. (NM)
This wine contrasts sunny black-cherry lusciousness with sous bois shadows of schist, black mushroom and conifer. Then there’s the dark-chocolate freshness that pegs it as a Vale Mendiz classic, grown in the hills above Pinhão. The arid year lent tar-black earthiness, and the oak is a little prominent right now, but neither impinges on the wine’s clear identity. My last note after three days of blind tasting: 'I’d like to own that.'
Quinta do Panascal was the first Fonseca property to start picking on 6 September. The two Pinhão Valley estates, Cruzeiro and Santo António, followed on 10 and 17 September – the earliest picking dates in a generation. Touriga Nacional , Touriga Francesa , Tinto Cão , Tinta Roriz , Tinta Barroca. TA 4.1 g/l, pH 3.9, RS 98 g/l. 8,100 bottles. Deepest purple. Wild, perfectly ripe small black berries like elderberry but also the lush sweetness of ripe blackberries plus a stony, rocky edge and just a touch charry. Lush, plush and exotic on the palate, deep-pile, compact, smooth tannins, just enough freshness to balance the rich generosity. The finish is beautifully dry-tasting, the tannins melting on the long finish. 17.5/20 points (JH)
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