There are few acts as crucial in the life of a Port House as the decision to declare a Vintage: on average, producers declare just three Vintages over 10 years. At Quinta do Noval, we take this decision only when we are overwhelmingly convinced that we have produced an exceptionally high-quality wine: we are aware of the fact that every declared Vintage leaves an indelible mark on our Quinta’s history, and that every declaration puts our reputation at stake.

Our decision to declare the 2012 Vintage is a genuine event, particularly as we are one of only very few Quintas to have taken this step. The context is unusual, since this Vintage follows the declaration of the 2011 Vintage, a year which was so exceptional that it gave rise to a general declaration. Even in these circumstances, a general declaration is decided by consensus, representing the body of decisions by all individual producers, each of whom can refuse to declare individually.

Conversely, a producer can choose to declare a Vintage on their own, if they consider that their wines are worthy of the honour. At Quinta do Noval, the wine itself makes the decision: if we consider that the year has produced a great wine, if the quality is there, then we declare – regardless of whether or not there are significant quantities available, and regardless of whether or not there is market demand. It is an almost eccentric compulsion driven by our conviction that we must do the right thing. This is how we have always operated, and we will continue to do so: we consider that it is our duty to pay tribute to the magic of the wines from this unique vineyard.

Each Vintage has a distinct personality, which is so much the better: very clear-cut differences in character are discernible from one year to another. However, the underlying attribute which we find in all Quinta do Noval wines, which makes them different from any other Port wine (and is instantly recognisable) is the soul and personality of the place where they are made. There is something floral and delicate about these wines; their aromas give a taste of the Douro Valley's wild beauty.

The 1955 and 1966 Vintages are two perfect examples of this character: their fragrant, floral and extremely subtle nose makes these two very great years the archetype of the Quinta do Noval style. This is the style (or at least the first signs of it) that we try to identify in young batches. Not only their aromatic character, but also the subtlety of their tannins, gives Quinta do Noval Vintages their unique identity. When the wine is young, these characteristics are infinitely hard to detect: you have to anticipate the way the wine will develop, use your intuition and have the courage to believe in your decision.

The 2012 Vintage follows on the heels of the amazing 2011 Vintage, one of the greatest Vintages ever produced in the Douro Valley. 2012 might not be in quite the same league, but it’s a wine in which the notes of fruit are very open, subtle and elegant, making it irresistibly charming. Some batches of wine produced in 2012 were so fine that we had to declare the Vintage, even though it came just after the very great 2011 Vintage. Selection was very strict and the quantity produced (only 1,000 cases of wine) is made up of these very fine batches. We are delighted to present this wine, which is unquestionably typical of Quinta do Noval and which stands side by side with other great Vintages of the past, but as always with its own unique personality conferred by the year.

Resulting from abundant and crucial spring rains followed by a very dry summer, which produced absolutely magnificent red wines, the 2012 Vintage is ideal for immediate enjoyment: it is absolutely delicious, with a typically floral character. Tasting it evokes this place which is so dear to all of us: at Quinta do Noval, we are convinced that the Douro Valley is one of the world’s greatest wine-growing terroirs. It’s a wild and fascinating place, and Quinta do Noval is without any doubt one of the Douro’s greatest treasures: a free and untameable place, whose rugged beauty is reflected in every one of our wines.

Over eighty years ago, the declaration of Vintage 1931 already greatly contributed to establishing our Quinta’s reputation. It was a bold act against a background of economic depression, but it turned out to be a visionary intuition, since this superb wine was subsequently a well-deserved triumph after the recession. Like our predecessors, we are inspired by this magical place that is the Noval vineyard. This is why we will continue to let the wine decide and to follow the intuitions which the Douro winds blow our way. There is something magical about this place, and although we might not be able to explain it, we have every intention of continuing to let the magic weave its spell.

Christian Seely, Managing Director

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