Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Port, the Wine Advocate scores 98-100
The 2017 Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port comes in with 99 grams per liter of residual sugar. This single-quinta Porto was a tank sample when tasted, although the final blend and out of barrel. This has fine precision and a tight, steely edge. It opened with too little concentration, but it kept putting on weight in the glass, showing enough stuffing to balance the steadily increasing power. Fresh and clean, with a fruity finish typical of the vintage, this eventually tightened to the point where the tannins popped up early and often, overwhelming the fruity beginning. This is probably the most backward of the 2015s from the Fladgate Partnership this issue. It might well wind up being the best—although that is not my early bet (see the Fonseca Guimaraens). That also means that it was certainly one of the most difficult to evaluate at the moment. Certainly, it may have the most potential to improve in the cellar. In short, this will need more time, but it looks promising given its impressive structure. Prepare to hold this awhile. It is fashionable these days to dive into Port very young, but the 15 years indicated may not be nearly enough.
2017 Fonseca Guimaraens Port, the Wine Advocate scores 93-95
The 2017 Guimaraens Vintage Port is a field blend coming in at 101 grams per liter of residual sugar. This was a tank sample when seen, out of barrel, the final blend and awaiting bottling in a couple of weeks. It should be released by the time this article appears. This is the blend Fonseca releases when there is no "classic" vintage declaration. It is usually intended to be approachable a bit earlier, much like a second wine. It seems pretty impressive this year, though. Round, big and lush, it might well be the best of the 2017s from the Fladgate Partnership, especially on the hedonism scale. It also seems to be the most concentrated of the Fladgate Partnership's wines this issue, full bodied and mouth coating. With air, this shows plenty of tannins underneath, too, but the mid-palate depth balances everything perfectly. Underneath that first rush of everything is intensely flavorful and fresh 2017 fruit. That's what this vintage tends to deliver. As relatively fat as this is in its youth, it also seems relatively dry this year. This has a long life ahead and the potential for significant development. It may be approachable on the younger side, but I'd personally like to put it away for at least 15 years (from vintage date). It quite possibly needs considerably more cellar time, particularly depending on how much complexity you demand. (I personally tend to lean to longer in my own tastes, but each to his own.) It should age very well, too. Winemaker David Guimaraens told me that he "guaranteed" at least 50 years from vintage date. I think he's right, but let's check back in with him around 2065 and jeer if he is wrong. This is a can't-miss bargain at the price.
2017 Croft Quinta de Roeda Port, the Wine Advocate scores 90-92
The 2017 Vintage Port Quinta da Roeda is a field blend aged for 18 months in French oak. It comes in with 97 grams per liter of residual sugar. This single-quinta Porto was seen as a tank sample, out of barrel and the final blend when tasted. It was set to be bottled in a couple of weeks after tasting and should be in the marketplace by the time this article appears. Not overly concentrated, it is still seductive because its fruit is fresh, flavorful and lifted. This does show some ability to flesh out in the glass and put on some weight, but it likely won't ever be remarkable because of its modest concentration. That said, its gorgeously flavorful fruit will always make it appealing. The fruit succeeds because of that lift and freshness. As it airs, the tannins become rather more assertive, too, but this will still be approachable on the younger side. These days, I typically find Croft to be rather underrated. Since Croft's acquisition by the Fladgate Partnership about 15 years back, the output has been increasingly impressive, in my book. This, however, is not likely going to be a great one. Still, the fruit here is delicious, the finish is serious and it should become a crowd-pleasing Porto in time. Even if it is approachable rather young, I would rather let it age at least another decade, which will allow it to soften the tannins and acquire some complexity. Dive in right away or wait a bit.