Visiting the one of the leading Port companies in the beautiful
Douro region of Portugal, part 2
of the greatest of all Port houses, Taylorís have a long history
and can boast a string of firsts. They introduced the hugely
successful LBV style with the 1965 Taylors LBV, and were the first
to release a single quinta Port (1958 Quinta da Vargellas).
Vargellas, acquired in 1893, is the heart of the operation, located
in the Douro Superior, with its own railway station.
three separate properties that were acquired between 1893 and 1896,
it is a beautiful estate with 67 hectares under vine, including some
very old blocks. There are a range of varieties planted, of which
the most significant are Touriga Nacional (25%), Touriga Francesa
(25%) and Tinta Roriz (22%). Recently, Vargellas annexed a
neighbouring Quinta, S„o Xisto, which has been extensively
replanted, and has added another 46 hectares of vines.
two Quintas in the Cima Corgo, Terra Feita and Junco, are also
significant contributors to Taylorís Ports. Quinta de Terra Feita
is located in the Pinh„o Valley, and has 61 hectares of vines.
Itís a south-facing property, and the wines it makes are an
important component of the Taylorís vintage Ports. Key varieties
are Touriga Francesa (27%), Tinta Roriz (22%), Tinta Barroca (13%)
and Touriga Nacional (13%).Nearby
to Terra Feita in the Pinh„o Valley, Junco has 46 hectares of
vines, with a fairly even spread of six key Port varieties: Touriga
Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Tinto C„o, Touriga Francesa
and Tinta Barocca.
Taylorís Vintage Port is consistently superb, with concentrated
dark, brambly fruit, firm structure, and the ability to age for many
decades: it is one of the very best of all, and the 2007 is truly
great. Single Quinta Ports from Vargellas and Terra Feita are
usually released in undeclared years, and can be very good indeed.
Taylorís also boast an icon wine: small quantities of a thrilling
Vargellas Vinha Velha are also made in some years (just five
vintages since 1995 have been released).
some messing around on boats in the Douro, it was time for us to do
some foot treading at Vargellas. The foot treading of Portis a bit of living history. Traditionally, the inhabitants of
a rural village will come to stay at the Quinta during the harvest
period. The same village comes back year after year.
the day they will pick the grapes, then, in the evening, it is time
to work the lagares. Initially, the treading is systematic. Then,
after a couple of hours, someone gets an electronic keyboard out (in
the past this would have been an accordion), strikes up a tune, and
everyone dances. Interestingly, the two lagares we were treading in
had quite a different mood to them. One was full of happy, dancing
treaders. The other had fewer people in it, and they werenít as
jolly. The village glums? Or had there been a row?
A film: foot-treading at Taylor's
treading is more than just a gimmick, though: it serves the purpose
of extracting lots from the grapes fast (the wine is only on its
skins a few days before it is fortified and pressed), in a really
gentle fashion. The human foot has been hard to replicate, and Port
companies have put a lot of work into ways of working the skins and
must to achieve the same way without the labour-intensive
Chip Dry White Port NV Lemony edge to the nose. Pure and fruity with nice clean fruit.
First Estate NV Vivid colour. Very bright, fresh, focused fruit with a peppery
edge. Lovely freshness here. 88/100
Late Bottled Vintage 2003 Cedary, spicy warmth to the nose. Nicely dense, spicy and quite
10 Year Old Tawny Complex and spicy with nice soft texture. Lots of interest here.
20 Year Old Tawny Lovely complexity on the nose: earthy, spicy, cedary. Some
raisiny sweetness. The palate has lovely balance between the
sweetness and the acidity, with complex minty, herby spiciness.
30 Year Old Tawny Smooth, alluring, brooding spicy nose. The palate is warm and
complex with lovely sweet, nutty, citrussy, spicy fruit. Refined and
40 Year Old Tawny Super-elegant and smooth on the nose. Very concentrated, rich
and sweet on the palate with lush spicy, herby complexity. Smooth
and yet powerful. 93/100
Quinta de Vargellas 1998 Woody, cedary complexity to the nose. Soft, smooth, lush fruit
on the palate with a cedary edge to it. Mellow and quite complex.
Quinta de Vargellas 2005 Vivid, intense, sweet fruit nose with some bold, spicy, herby
notes. The palate is lush and pure with lovely vibrant fruit and
good structure. 93/100
Vintage Port 2003 Very deep coloured. Complex cedary, spicy nose is warm, rich and
intense. The palate is super complex and intense with massive
concentration of spicy, dense, earthy fruit. Lots of structure here.
Vintage Port 2007 Amazing aromatics: violets, dark cherry, black fruits. The
palate is pure, vibrant and fruity, yet structured. Dense, fresh,
yet superbly fruity, this is almost perfect. 97/100
Quinta de Vargellas Vinha Velha 2007 1995 was the first release of this super-cuvee, and the other
releases so far have been 1997, 2000 and 2001. Itís a small lot
from the oldest part of the Quinta. Wonderfully aromatic: floral,
bold, spicy and quite fine. The palate has amazing lively, spicy
complexity to the dense, structured fruit. Incredibly complex, this
is approaching perfection, with wonderful structure. Dense, complex,
tannic and yet so elegant. 98/100