Perfect Balance!

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Fonseca Vintage Port HALF BOTTLE 2017

Port from Douro, Portugal


$103ea for 3+
$98ea in any 6+
Closure: Cork
Vintage Port is one of the world's most extreme styles. It's only made in the best years when the 'Vintage is Declared'. Taylor's is one of the very best houses


Take an array of red varieties with different personalities, throw them in a lagare, grab a couple dozen stompers and get them to tread the grapes, ferment it for a bit then pour in some brandy spirit leaving you with high sugar, tannin, acid, and, alcohol backed by rich fruit.

On face value how could it work? Like all the great wine styles in the world the top echelon, the best houses of Portugal have found a way.

The searing acidity of the best vintage ports and exceptional tannins balances the sweetness of the sugar, alcohol and of course fruit. Despite the strength of these superb wines they have amazing finesse, elegance, and, restraint.

The complexity of these wines offers such intrigue!

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Why is this Wine so Yummy?

Thoughts on the 2017 VP

Adrian Bridge, Managing Director:

“We are very pleased to announce the release of a classic Fonseca Vintage from 2017. This follows hard on the heels of the highly acclaimed 2016 but is very distinct in character. The Fonseca 2017 is a wine of impressive scale and depth, with the opulent, complex fruit which is the essence of the house style.”

David Guimaraens, Head Wine Maker:

“We will remember the 2017 viticultural year for the exceptionally dry conditions throughout the growing and ripening seasons and for the very early harvest. Our picking start date on the Fonseca estates was the earliest for a generation. Not surprisingly, this was also a year of low yields, with the thick-skinned grapes producing dense, deeply coloured musts with high tannin levels. However, the relatively moderate August temperatures meant that ripening was even and the wines perfectly balanced. All the Fonseca properties, in both the Távora and Pinhão valleys, produced excellent wines.”

Commenting on the wine: “The quality of the fruit on the Fonseca 2017 is exceptional. It is dense and powerful, with the classic Fonseca opulence and complexity, but with an attractive minerality. The character of the year has harmonised perfectly with the style of the house.”

The Importance of Blending

At Yarra Yering we made a VP style, the Port Sorts, renamed Pot Sorts for export after naming rights for the use of Port were granted solely to the Portuguese.

Made from the traditional Port varieties, Touriga Nacional provides structural tannin backbone, earthiness, and a core of fruit. Tinta Cão fruit richness. Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Tinta Amarela the acid component.

In addition to the above the best known red varieties for Port production include the Touriga Francesa, and, Tinta Barroca but in total there are around thirty types of Port grape. Most of these varieties have relatively small thick-skinned berries which produce the dense concentrated must (grape juice) needed to make Port.

Although they may be planted separately, the varieties are normally harvested and fermented together. Each grape variety contributes its own particular character – such as the intense flavours of woodland fruit, delicate floral scents, exotic spicy notes or the wild resiny aromas of gumcistus – to the nose of the wine. The grape varieties work together like instruments in an orchestra to create a subtle, complex and multi-dimensional harmony.

Making Port

Port is a fortified wine. Fortified wines are made by adding a proportion of grape spirit, or brandy, to the wine at some point during the production process. Port is arguably the greatest of all fortified wines and its paramount expression, Vintage Port, ranks alongside the finest produce of Bordeaux or Burgundy as one of the great iconic wines of the world.

In the case of Port, the addition of the brandy takes place before the wine has finished fermenting. This means that the wine retains some of the natural sweetness of the grape, making it rich, round and smooth on the palate.

One of the fascinating aspects of Port wine is its variety of different styles, each with its own characteristic flavours, from the intense berry fruit flavours of a Reserve or a Late Bottled Vintage to the rich mellowness of an Aged Tawny or the sublime complexity of a Vintage Port.

About Fonseca’s

Both Fonsecea and Taylor’s owned and made by the Guimarens family under the guidance of David. These are two of the great Port estates.

Throughout the 20th century, the making of Fonseca Vintage Ports was overseen by only four family members, Frank, Dorothy, Bruce and David Guimaraens and this has helped to make Fonseca one of the most stylistically consistent of Vintage Port producers.

The firm’s Vintage Ports are drawn from its own quintas or estates: Cruzeiro and Santo António in the Pinhão Valley, which have contributed to the firm’s Vintage Port blend for 100 years, as well the Távora Valley property of Panascal. Fonseca is unique among Port houses in making three different types of Vintage Port.

Fonseca Vintage Ports are released only when a year produces outstanding wines with long term ageing potential. These classic Vintage Ports are a blend of wines from Cruzeiro, Santo António and Panascal. Cruzeiro contributes concentrated black fruit flavours and firm tannic ‘grip’. Panascal adds an opulent luscious fruitiness and a dense velvety texture. Finally, Santo António brings complexity and vibrancy with its fine scented character and fresh acidity.

Where in the World is the Duoro Valley?

The 2017 Vintage

In spite of a cold and dry start to the year, the first buds appeared earlier than usual, around 10th March. Spring remained unusually dry throughout, with only about 7mm of rain falling in Pinhão in the usually wet month of April. These conditions accelerated vine growth, bringing on an early flowering at the beginning of May.

The first three weeks of June saw very high temperatures and véraison started much earlier than usual around the 18th. Drought conditions continued until the end of September but temperatures eased somewhat in August, bringing relatively cool nights. Predictably, the crop reached maturity very early.

Quinta do Panascal was the first Fonseca property to start picking on 6thSeptember. The two Pinhão Valley estates, Cruzeiro and Santo António, followed on 10thand 17th respectively. These were the earliest picking dates in a generation.  The thick-skinned grapes yield very dense musts, with impressive depth of colour.  Although the volume of production was low overall, a high proportion of the wines made were of exceptional quality and their promise was apparent from an early stage.

Drinking Vintage Port

🍷DECANTING – Vintage Port forms a natural deposit in the bottle and should be decanted. Stand the bottle upright a few hours before decanting to allow the sediment to fall to the bottom of the bottle.

🌡SERVING TEMPERATURE – Serve at 16ºC to 18ºC. Vintage Port is best drunk one to two days after opening.

🍑🧀PAIRING SUGGESTIONS – Walnuts, blue veined and other richly flavoured cheeses are excellent accompaniments to Vintage Port; so too are dried fruits such as apricots or figs.

Where in the World does Vintage Port Come From!

96-98 Points

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) (7/2019)

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

95 Points

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. (6/2019)

James Suckling

95 Points

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) (6/2019)

Neal Martin for Vinous

95 Points

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. Drinking Window 2035 - 2060 (RM) (7/2019)


17.5/20 Points

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. (JH) (5/2019)

Jancis Robinson

Where in the world does the magic happen?

Fonseca, Rua Nova de São Crispim, Porto, Portugal