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The wines of Quinta do Vesuvio, Douro, Portugal
A vertical tasting of the Vintage Port

Quinta do Vesuvio is one of the great Quintas of the Douro. It’s located in the Douro Superior (the wamer, drier section, up river from Pinhão, on the way to the Spanish border), 120 km east of Porto. The estate was developed in its current guise by António Bernardo Ferreira, who purchased it in 1823. His ambitions were such that this became the grandest Quinta of all in the Douro. António’s son inherited the estate; his wife was the famous Dona Antónia, who was widowed shortly after and went on to develop a grand portfolio of Douro properties.

The current fame of Vesuvio is down to the Symingtons (owners of the likes of Warre, Dow and Graham) who purchased the property in 1989. They have redeveloped it somewhat and expanded the vineyard holdings to some 130 hectares. These days, the quality option in the Douro is to plant different varieties in separate blocks, as opposed to the older technique of planting a range of varieties together in the same block. This means that the old vineyards tend to be interplanted, while the varietally planted blocks are new vines. Vesuvio is lucky in that it has some varietally planted blocks that are over 30 years old.

The focus of Vesuvio is vintage Port. The grapes, however, are rigorously selected and only a proportion find their way into the Vintage Port; some are used for the Symington’s table wine projects, and soon there will be a table wine with Vesuvio’s name on it. [Update: this wine is now available, and is excellent, with a second wine called Pombal de Vesuvio.]

This vertical was a great chance to try the majority of the vintages back to the Symington acquisition. It’s clear that Vesuvio is right up there with the top Port houses in quality terms: this is one of the great Vintage Ports of the Douro, even though it is technically only a single quinta Port. Top vintages are 1991, 2000, 2001 and 2003. Many of these vintages are available from Berry Bros & Rudd (www.bbr.com); the UK agent is Fells. 

Quinta do Vesuvio 1989
Elegant and dense with smooth, pure fruit and a nice long spicy finish. Dense. Evolving beautifully with good structure still. 94/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 1990
Aromatically complex with soft, smooth, elegant fruit. Warm and pure, and evolving nicely. 93/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 1991
Firm nose with a bright, spicy edge. Intense palate with dense spicy fruit. Quite firm with nice structure. A fabulous Port. 95/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 1992
Herby, spicy nose shows some evolution. The palate has an earthy edge behind the structured, spicy fruit. Finishes very spicy. 91/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 1994
Pure, aromatic nose with nice spiciness. Concentrated, dense, sweet and lush on the palate with lots of warmth. 94/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 1995
Really lovely aromatics: sweet and a bit fudgey, with warm fruit. The palate is ripe, sweet and shows elegant fruit. 93/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 1996
Fresh, pure, slightly spicy aromatics. Lovely bright fresh spicy fruit on the palate with a savoury edge. A really expressive, bright wine. 93/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 1997
Warm, sweet, pure aromatic fruit on the nose. Soft, lush and broad on the palate. Seems very sweet. 92/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 1998
Lovely fresh berryish aromatics. Sweet and attractive. The palate is fresh and pure with a bit of mintiness. Bright and fruity. 91/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 1999
Warm, sweet, ripe herby nose. Vivid bright fruit on the palate. Really expressive. 91/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 2000
Lush, sweet, concentrated and ripe. Still quite youthful with lovely purity and spicy density. Great purity and depth here. 96/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 2001
Youthful, dense, sweet and pure with spicy fruit and good structure. Really lovely linear fruit here. A little sweeter and riper than the 2000, but still expressive. 95/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 2003
Vivid and aromatically rich with lovely purity of fruit. Brilliantly fresh and structured on the palate. A truly great wine. 97/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 2004
Ripe, sweet, open nose with coffee and chocolate notes along with lush fruit. The palate is lush and dense with lovely pure, sweet fruit. One for drinking young-ish. 93/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 2005
Pure sweet aromatic fruit on the nose: raspberry and blackberry. Very sweet, bright and pure with lovely tannic structure. 94/100

Quinta do Vesuvio 2006
Opaque in colour. Sweet, open, bright vivid fruit with great purity and focus. Almost wine like. Lovely. 93/100

Wines tasted 10/08  
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