Taylor's Port 2016, The Wine Advocate, 96 points, invest and sell Drink Date 2027-2070
The 2016 Vintage Port was originally seen about a week before bottling in a more unsettled incarnation. It is now in the USA and showing in a rather forward fashion for Taylor's. It was aged for 20 months in wood and comes in with 102 grams of residual sugar. This is a pleasure just to smell, with its hints of herbs, eucalyptus and blackberries. Some more time in bottle has made this a classic Port from start to finish in terms of aromatics and flavors. In my almost-40-year history of Port drinking, Taylor's was and is always one of my benchmarks for what a Port should taste and smell like. This delivers all that in spades.
Now, it is not the most powerful or massive Taylor's. Dry and a bit tense after it sat in the glass for an hour, this finished with moderate bang and pop a couple of hours later. I've certainly seen young Taylor's with more intensity. A creature of its vintage, it is a very elegant Port with a touch of understatement. It shows off focus and freshness more than jammy richness. If it is not quite as tightly wound as in some years, the typical profile is still there and the structure is still very good. Indeed, some two days after opening it did not lose any power. The Fonseca is probably more powerful in the Fladgate Group offerings in this vintage (and, perhaps, the somewhat deeper Taylor's balances the tannins differently), but the fruit here is even more gorgeous and seductive. Indeed, the fruit is often sensational, the biggest bragging point here. I gave it a couple of extra days open to be sure just how lovely it was. It was particularly closed on the first pours, when many young Ports are exuberant. It eventually became far more expressive. How you evaluate this will depend on what you most want in Port. If you want that old-school vibe, perhaps Fonseca will serve you better this year. If you want to drool over sensational fruit, this will work just fine. You'll think I'm being stingy.
Given how precocious it seems just now—it certainly won't make your mouth turn immediately to cotton and your tongue seize up—the fruit is so good that some will dare to drink it now. (If you do, you can unfriendly me on Facebook and the rest of social media, not that I'm judgemental or anything.) Harmony and complexity will still take time; there is no short cut for complexity and harmony. Overall, the purity and flavour make this rise above the crowd. How far above still remains to be seen. I'd like to see more proof of development here around 2030, more evidence that this will fulfil all of its potential.
Fonseca 2016, The Wine Advocate, 98 points, invest and sell Drink Date
2026 - 2070
The 2016 Vintage Port is a field blend that was not quite bottled when seen (set for a week later), but it was the final blend. It was aged for 20 months in wood and comes in with 99 grams of residual sugar. This Fonseca is remarkably expressive, lifted and gloriously fresh. It has good concentration but some years have had more and seemed sexier. However, the most notable feature is the structure. It is very impressive in structure, that classic Port power and firmness coming to the fore and overshadowing the rest at the moment. This is very tight and very uninvolved. Don't even think of buying it if you aren't prepared to cellar it. The 2030 start date that I have will not be even close to late enough if you want harmony and complexity. To me, this is the best of the three 2016s from the Fladgate Group this issue (Croft and Taylor being the other two), thanks to its pure intensity, but time will tell if it becomes as sexy as I'm sure Taylor's will be. In the meanwhile, Fonseca looks like one of the greats of this vintage
Croft Port 2016, The Wine Advocate, 94 points, invest and sell Drink Date
2025 - 2065
The 2016 Vintage Port is a field blend originally seen about a week before bottling. It comes in with 104 grams of residual sugar. Not a lot has changed except that it seems even more approachable and much better balanced now. It also seems drier than its statistics would suggest. Tight and intense on first taste, this comes around relatively well with a couple of hours of air on the first day tasted, but it isn't expressive until a couple of days later. The initial firmness moderates to some extent, showcasing a relatively approachable young Port. (That doesn't mean it is ready or close to it.) The concentration seems good enough now, so that the hints of alcohol that I saw in June—and again this time around when this was in its first 90 minutes of aeration—seem under much better control. The balance is just more appealing. It shows beautifully with a couple of days of air. As with all Ports of any quality, this could use some time. This is gripping, but it won't sear your mouth with tannins. You are going to have to cellar it awhile to allow it to acquire more complexity and more harmony, though. This is showing more promise than ever.