I guess that many Bristol Wine Blog readers have lists of ‘dream’ wines – bottles that they’d love to taste at least once in their lives. Sadly, by their very nature, ‘dream’ bottles are often either fantastically expensive or incredibly rare – frequently both. So dreams remain dreams.
But, just once in a while, an opportunity comes along and a dream becomes reality. And that’s what happened for me recently thanks to a tasting organised jointly by the Bristol Tasting Circle and the West of England Wine and Spirit Association. Our speaker was Christian Seely, Managing Director of AXA Millésimes, who brought along a selection of wines and ports from their multiple award-winning estate, Quinta do Noval, including one of my dream wines, Nacional Vintage Port.
What’s so special about Nacional? It’s produced from a single, wonderfully sited vineyard of just 2 hectares (4½ acres) where all the vines still remain on their own rootstocks (so, not grafted onto American rootstocks, as most vines are, to guard against the deadly phylloxera bug). Output of Nacional Port is tiny – just 3100 bottles of the 2003 vintage – the one we tasted – were produced and demand always exceeds supply many times over.
Did it live up to my dreams? You bet it did! Although still young (good ports can easily last 50 years), it showed marvellous concentration of fruit – damsons, plums, cloves and just so much more. Truly, a once in a lifetime treat!
And though my attention was, understandably, on the Nacional, it wasn’t the only superb bottle on show: we also tasted the regular 2003 Vintage Port (from other Noval vineyards) and a tawny from the same year; either would have been the star of most tastings, as would Noval’s Douro red wine: unfortified and made from the same grape varieties as the ports, this would be a perfect match with robust food. But the Nacional was just in a different league.
And just a mention for Bristol readers: the Douro will be one of the subjects of ‘Wine Rivers of Europe’, a 5 week course (Wednesday evenings) at Stoke Lodge starting in November during which we will be talking about (and tasting, of course) a selection of wines reflecting the title. For more details: http://www.bristolcourses.com