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The wines of Quinta do Noval
Table wines from the famous Port producer 

Website: www.quintadonoval.com

Christian Seely (checked shirt) flanked by Joanna Simon and Neal Martin

Added later: see a more recent report on Noval's table wines based on a visit in September 2009

Quinta do Noval, one of the Douro's most respected Port producers launched their eagerly awaited first table wines in the UK in March 2007 (see above). They were a little late to the Douro table wine party, but it seems they've used this time well: the wines are very good indeed. 

Noval have been playing around with table wines for some years now, but it’s only with the 2004 vintage that they were happy to market them. ‘We’ve taken our time’, says Christian Seely. ‘We started making unfortified red wines in 1996, and we’ve always dreamed of making wines that bring out the Noval and Douro terroir.’ He adds that. ‘I’ve always believed that it should be possible to do this with an unfortified wine.' 

Seely admits that they went down the wrong path at the beginning, putting their hopes in Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo). ‘I was always a bit disappointed with the results’, he reveals. ‘It doesn’t give the same results in the Douro as it does in the Duero’. Seely reckons that Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Cão are the most exciting varieties in the Douro. ‘We’re more and more enthusiastic about Touriga Franca.’ So the trials continued, culminating in the release of these two very impressive wines. 

‘2004 was the first year that we thought we had something exciting that we could put the Noval name on’, says Seely. Impressive as these wines are, he reckons the 2005s will be even better, but 2006 turned out to be quite a difficult year and so only the Cedro was released this year.

One of the factors that has swayed Noval’s decision to go down the table wine route is because they have lots of good quality grapes coming from new vineyards and they don’t necessarily want them to end up in LBV Port. Seely says he is upset by the desperately uneconomic nature of LBV production. ‘Lots of good LBV is being made’, he says, ‘but because of the crazy price competition it isn’t an economic category’. Noval makes a serious LBV that Seely describes as a ‘baby Vintage Port’, so they avoid the price battle. But he says that as they get more quality grapes coming online, he wouldn’t want to be forced to make more LBV. 

The notes below are from two separate tastings, in March 2007 and November 2008.

Quinta do Noval Tinto 2004 Douro
70% Touriga Nacional, 20% Tinta Cão and 10% Touriga Franca.
Production 200 cases. Dark aromatic nose of complex, sweet, spicy fruit. Beguiling, pure and complex. There’s a lovely fresh purity to it; it’s almost liqueur-like. The palate is dense, sweet and quite elegant with nic purity of black fruit supported by some spicy tannins. Expressive, elegant and quite accessible. It’s ripe, but there’s the richness and structure to support medium-term ageing. Delicious stuff. Very good/excellent 94/100 (this will retail around £35) (03/07)

Quinta do Noval Cedro Tinto 2004 Douro
40% Touriga Nacional, 40% Tinta Roriz, 20% Touriga Franca.
1200 cases made, 250 of which are earmarked for the UK. Lovely open bright fruity nose is quite sweet with smoothness, purity and freshness. The palate shows nice smooth pure fruit backed up by spicy tannic structure. Stylish, spicy and pure, this is a ripe but well balanced wine of great purity and freshness. For drinking now and over the next few years. Very good/excellent 92/100 (retail around £10) (03/07)

Cedro do Noval 2006 Vinho Regional Duriense
Unusually for a Douro wine, there’s 35% Syrah in this, most of which comes from another plot Noval own in the Roncao valley between Roeda and Romaneira. It was Christian Seely’s idea to try planting Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon: while the Cabernet was a disaster, the Syrah was great, and Noval went as far as bottling some of the first wines separately. Now the Syrah is complementing this blend. It shows sweet, pure red berry fruits on the nose, with a fresh, pure palate showing bright fruit and nice minerality. Very berryish, with delicious purity of fruit. 89/100 (11/08)

None of the regular Noval table wine was made in 2006, just the Cedro.

Quinta do Noval 2005 Douro
Pure aromatic nose is really fresh with lovely definition and great purity of sweet blackberry and raspberry fruit. The palate is fresh and supple with lovely pure summer pudding fruit and some nice spicy structure. Nicely defined. 93/100 (11/08)

Quinta do Noval Unfiltered LBV 2003
Very fresh, bright nose is sweet and focused with some spiciness. Dense, sweet, concentrated palate with nice spicy notes. Really delicious. 91/100 (11/08)

Silval Vintage Port 2005
No Noval vintage made in 2005, but this is certainly good enough quality to have been declared. Fresh, intense, spicy nose. The palate is concentrated, sweet and expressive with lovely freshness and definition. A really serious effort. 94/100 (11/08)

see also: Visiting Quinta do Noval, part 1 the table wines; 2004 in the Douro; interview with Christian Seely 

Wines tasted 03/07, 11/08
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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