Vintage 2008 Ports, just released, are delicious, fruity and offer great acidity to balance the sweetness of the wine. They are not big or powerful, and will develop quickly and easily–in short, wines that can be drunk well today. Knowing that ageability was limited in many cases, top producers made single quinta wines, rather than declared vintage Ports (prized wines from the finest grapes of producers’ top vineyards). The plus side of that decision is that the 2008 vintage represents great value for lovers of vintage Port—but as collectors of vintage Port will know soon, quantities are small. Production of 500–1,000 cases is the norm. Bottling has just taken place, and the wines should be shipped in spring 2011. Here are some top picks:
92 Churchill’s 2008 Quinta da Gricha Vintage Port; $120. Toffee sweetness on the nose, giving a rich wine with plenty of sweet flavors. Intense in its structured character, and solid, this is a wine with good potential. Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons.
92 Fonseca 2008 Quinta do Panascal Vintage Port; $60. A fruity, big, ripe wine, its tannins enveloped in the forward fruit. There is sweetness from black figs and berries, while red berries give acidity. Imported by Kobrand.
92 Quinta do Noval 2008 Vintage Port; $100. An impressive, dry wine, textured and firm. Not as firm as a classic vintage year, with the forward fruit more in evidence. That makes it a wine for medium-term aging. Imported by Vintus.
92 W & J Graham’s 2008 Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port; $NA. A perfumed wine, initially soft, then showing some mineral character to go along with the spice and acidity. That puts it on the dry side, with a smoky character coming through the juicy fruit. For aging. Imported by Premium Port Wines Inc.
91 Quinta do Vale Meão 2008 Vintage Port; $80. A soft, silky wine, very opulent and ripe. It shows big berry-jam fruit, while never losing its tannins or acidity. It has power and great richness. Imported by W.J. Deutsch & Sons.
91 Taylor Fladgate 2008 Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port; $65. A beautiful, fruity wine that also has good structure to balance its black plum fruits. The acidity is important, although the wine as a whole is on the dry side, with spice and dominant final tannins. Imported by Kobrand.
91 Duorum 2008 Vinha de Castelo Melhor Vintage Port; $80. A solidly structured wine that has big spice and ripe fruit. On the dry side, with dark fruits, while there is also an attractive balance between the fruit and the acidity. Definitely for aging. Imported by Winebow.
91 Dow’s 2008 Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port; $60. Dominated by acidity and a smoky character, the wine has great balance, a light caramel flavor to go with red cherry and sweet fruits. It shows an generous character that is attractive for early drinking. (Imported by Premium Port Wines Inc).
91 Quinta do Vesuvio 2008 Vintage Port; $61. Structured wine, shouting its dark schist terroir. Bitter chocolate and spicy fruit set an attractive frame for the acidity. With plenty of weight to go with the tannins, this will age well. Imported by Premium Port Wines Inc.
90 Niepoort 2008 Quinta da Pisca Vintage Port; $90. Fine grain tannins, a light smoke and tobacco aroma over juicy, soft fruit. It has great structure, with a firm core, round and fruity. Well balanced, it suggests aging possibilities. Imported by Martine’s Wines.
Other ratings for 2008 Vintage Ports are in the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide.