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 litre of residual sugar. Quinta Porto was a tank sample when tasted, although the final blend was out of a 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 the most backward of the 2015s from the Fladgate Partnership this issue. It might be the best—although that is not my early bet (see the Fonseca Guimaraens). That also means it was certainly one of the most difficult to evaluate. 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 enough.
2017 Fonseca Guimaraens Port, the Wine Advocate, scores 93-95
The 2017 Guimaraens Vintage Port is a field blend at 101 grams per litre of residual sugar. This was a tasting sample when seen, out of a barrel, the final blend, awaiting bottling in two weeks. It should be by the time this News appears. This is the blend Fonseca releases when no "classic" vintage declaration exists. It is intended to be touchable earlier, much like a 2nd wine. It seems pretty good for this year, though. Round, bold and lush, it is the best of the 2017s from the Fladgate, especially on the old scale. It is also the most full of the Fladgate Partnership's wines in this issue, full-bodied and mouth-coating. With air, this shows plenty of tannins below, too, but the mid-palate depth balances perfectly. Below that first rush of all is intensely bold and fresh 2017 fruit. As big as it gets, 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 like to put it away for at least 15 years (from the vintage Port). It may need considerably more cellar time, depending on how much complexity you demand. (I tend to lean to longer in my tastes, but each to his own.) It should age very well, too. Winemaker David Guimaraens told me he "guaranteed" 50 years from the vintage date.
2017 Croft Quinta de Roeda Port, the Wine Advocate scores 90-92
The 2017 Vintage Port Quinta da Roeda is a field blend aged 18 months in French oak. It comes in with 97 grams per litre of residual sugar. This single Quinta Porto was seen as a tank sample, out of the 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 this article's appearance. Not overly concentrated, it is still seductive because its fruit is fresh, flavorful and lifted. This does show some ability to flesh out the glass and put on some weight, but it likely will never 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 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 likely going to be a challenging 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 and relatively young, I would instead let it age at least another decade, allowing it to soften the tannins and acquire some complexity. Dive in right away or wait a bit.