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One of the oldest port houses, Quinta do Noval is also arguably the greatest. It is unique among top port houses in that most of the ports are made from estate-grown fruit and, notably, all of the vintage Noval wines are from the single Quinta do Noval vineyard. In addition, it is difficult to elaborate on Quinta do Noval without mentioning Nacional, the legendary port made from a 6 acre parcel of ungrafted vines. When declared, only 200-300 cases of Nacional will be made, and instantly become the most sought after port in the world. Many vintages of Nacional are considered as the finest ports, and some of the finest wines, ever made.
This sports serious heft, with a core of brooding fig jam, ganache, Christmas pudding and pastis-soaked black currant notes, followed by a powerhouse finish of smoldering charcoal and tar. The feel is remarkably velvety and rounded overall, with a mouthwatering licorice root element adding to the already considerable length.
Though declared back in 2003, the 2001 Quinta do Noval Nacional was not officially released until 2016 because Christian Seely deemed it too backward and tannic in its youth. Matured in used wooden barrels for 20 months, it has a limpid purple hue with very slight bricking at the rim. The utterly captivating bouquet features multilayered black cherries, cassis, crushed violets and hints of iodine, all extremely delineated and focused. The palate is medium-bodied with a satin-like texture that renders this Nacional deceivingly approachable, and yet this is clearly a Vintage Port with decades still ahead of it. Amazingly well focused, this 2016 has a brightness and vivacity that probably manifested during the years it was kept back. Stunning. 250 cases produced. Tasted at the Vinous off-line dinner at La Trompette.