Declaring a Vintage is always an event at Quinta do Noval, and even more so when it concerns a Vintage Nacional and has been kept a closely guarded secret.
Christian Seely, our Managing Director, officially revealed Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional 2004 to an audience of enthusiastic journalists during a tasting in London in September 2013.
Vintage Ports are usually declared two years after harvest, so why was Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional not declared at the same time as Quinta do Noval Vintage 2004?
When Christian Seely arrived as head of Quinta do Noval in 1993 he made a commitment that only years of unqualified excellence would be considered worthy of declaration. When Vintage Nacional 2004 was bottled in 2006 it was clearly a very big wine, quite monolithic and dumb at that stage, and we decided to allow it to age and develop in the bottle for some years before revealing it to the world.
Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional develops at its own pace. After bottling it continues to progress and the benefits of time have revealed the full glory of this year. After several years in the bottle it has proved to live up to the standards of excellence which have made this such a renowned Port. A deep ruby red in colour, Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional 2004 reveals aromas of blackberry, violet and liquorice on the nose. This powerful wine develops notes of ripe, concentrated fruit and delicate, harmonious tannins which burst onto the palate for a long, intense finish.
Vintage Nacional is highly distinctive amongst all Quinta do Noval wines. “It is exceptional when it wants to be', explains Christian Seely. In 2007, for example, a year in which Quinta do Noval Vintage was declared, Vintage Nacional did not express its character and so was not declared. This wine always stands apart and follows its own path. It is patiently crafted in the traditional lagares, exactly like Quinta do Noval’s classic Vintage.
The mystery of Vintage Nacional’s unpredictable nature is a secret held deep below Quinta do Noval’s schist soil. Christian Seely, who with our Technical Director António Agrellos is guardian of this exceptional wine’s reputation, firmly believes that “grapes and the terroir make Vintage Nacional what it is, not any particular technique that we apply”.
Vintage Nacional is made with grapes from some of the most precious plots at the heart of Quinta do Noval’s vineyard. The legendary two-hectare Nacional plots with ungrafted vines “rooted in the soil of the Nation” were planted in 1925. These terraced plots contain old, phylloxera-resistant vines which produce an exceptional quality of grape and are tended using only environmentally safe methods. The tracts of thick green grass which stretch between the rows of vines provide a natural means of fighting pest plants.
Every precaution is taken to protect these vines and their invaluable natural qualities. They are tended manually in total harmony with nature and tradition. Powerful, sure-footed horses are also used instead of tractors, which would be impossible to manoeuvre on these steep plots.
This precious terroir makes an undeniable contribution to Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional’s international reputation. With a very limited production (just 200 cases of the 2004 Vintage), this is one of the world’s most sought-after Ports. This remarkable wine will be available from distributors from September 2014.