David Bruce Fonseca Guimaraens, winemaker for the Port houses Croft, Fonseca and Taylor Fladgate, was in New York this week on a quick trip to make sure U.S. retailers knew at least eight houses declared 2016 Port a vintage.
It’s the first fully declared vintage since 2011, and only the fourth this century, as vintages are declared only in the best years.
Guimaraens expects to produce 3,050 cases of Croft (SRP $100), 4,900 cases of Fonseca (SRP $120) and 6,200 cases of Taylor Fladgate (SRP $120). The United States will get about 20% of that number, as it’s the second-largest export market for the wine.
“Normally, in a declared year one would expect to produce 20,000 cases, but I’m not sure we’ll get to that number. It was a very wet spring and that meant a significant fruit loss,” Guimaraens explained. “But the summer was so hot and dry from July on that the remaining fruit was ripening evenly… The grapes were beautiful.”
Declaring a vintage means that the so-called wood ports, the aged Tawneys, the Reserve Ruby Ports, the Late Bottled Vintages (LBVs), also see increased sales, he said.
From Generation To Generation
He explained that Vintage Port, in particular, is “very long-lived.” When asked to define what he meant by “long-lived,” Guimaraens replied, “Oh, 50 years easily. You don’t really want to open it before it’s 20.”
The vintages from 2016 are “almost perfection. It is rare that we go so many years without having declared… But we really have to respect what nature gives us. If we don’t do that, we won’t have a reputation for the generations to come,” Guimaraens said.