Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

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Chris Doty
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Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by Chris Doty » 15:57 Thu 14 May 2015

Greetings from Colombo!

I observed in the 2013 Declarations thread a comment from Master Seeley about QdN's declaration philosophy:

"Quinta do Noval has consistently followed a policy in recent years of declaring a Vintage Port, even of very small volume, if even a tiny proportion of the harvest has the quality and style of a Quinta do Noval Vintage Port."

Indeed, it seems that this is true, including several vintages where most producers in their class refrained from bottling VP (e.g., 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013, etc - curiously not 2005, although apparently it was 100% QdN fruit).

Before I go further, let me reveal I think Christian is a stud, I think Noval has come a looooong way since his installment and I appreciate his forthright, consumer-friendly, and responsible stewardship of Axa's wine interests. And now...

I am wondering a few things from my port chums -

1.) Do you feel there is risk of brand dilution/fatigue from this strategy? (if so, why would it be different from say Vesuvio?)
2.) Do you have experience with any of the 'idiosyncratic' declarations? (if so, discuss! AHB seems to be a big believer in the 12, 08 and the 04, and accounts for the vast majority of TNs in the forum). Personally, all of my Noval budget is being allocated to their 2007...
3.) Do you expect that this pro-declaration behavior will become more commonplace within the Port trade? (FWIW, similar dynamics appear underway in Champagne).

TIA

woo woo

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jdaw1
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Re: Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by jdaw1 » 18:01 Thu 14 May 2015

Perhaps our first post from Ceylon. Greetings.

Declare VP-grade Port. Do it.

(But, old rant, do put it on the website about which Seely has forgotten.)

Glenn E.
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Re: Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by Glenn E. » 21:11 Thu 14 May 2015

I think that the "mid majors" like Noval and Vesuvio can get away with oddball declaration schedules, so they should do it. Especially Vesuvio, as it has the rest of the Symington brands under the same umbrella.

But I like the periodic nature of the full declarations, so encourage the big producers to continue that tradition. That does mean that there will be some stellar SQVP years in order to space out major declarations, and possibly also some dry periods with a single declaration that barely qualifies as well. Though I suspect that the latter will be very rare as technology and winemaking skill have increased so dramatically during the last couple of decades. I doubt there will ever be another '85 to '94 gap (with or without a split like '91 and '92) without some sort of external interference.
Glenn Elliott

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djewesbury
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Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by djewesbury » 21:44 Thu 14 May 2015

jdaw1 wrote:Perhaps our first post from Ceylon. Greetings.

Declare VP-grade Port. Do it.

(But, old rant, do put it on the website about which Seely has forgotten.)
Ceylon??

I believe it would be appropriate for the Port Forum to recognise the independence of Sri Lanka, and maybe to agree to use that name, by which it asks to be recognised, rather than that under which it was controlled by its colonial overlords. This may be good manners in all similar cases.
Daniel J.
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Re: Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by Justin K » 23:48 Thu 14 May 2015

I second that,

Justin (from the Free State or Eire, without the fada).

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DRT
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Re: Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by DRT » 08:24 Sat 16 May 2015

I agree.

From an ex-pat of the Independent Republic of Nicola Sturgeon.
"The first duty of Port is to be red"
Ernest H. Cockburn

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djewesbury
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Re: Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by djewesbury » 17:03 Sat 16 May 2015

DRT wrote:I agree.

From an ex-pat of the Independent Republic of Nicola Sturgeon.
Can't argue with democracy Derek.
Daniel J.
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DRT
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Re: Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by DRT » 17:14 Sat 16 May 2015

djewesbury wrote:Can't argue with democracy Derek.
True, although some seem to think that you can.

Back on topic.

I think QdN are simply following a similar model to QdV and other SQVP producers. If it is good enough in large quantities, make lots of it. If not, don't make too much.

I like the approach, but I also like that the traditional shippers that are not concentrated around one quinta continue with the 3 to 4 declarations per decade for their classic blended VP.
"The first duty of Port is to be red"
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AHB
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Re: Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by AHB » 22:29 Sat 16 May 2015

I like having the choice, some producers who make full declaration port plus single quinta / second label port and some producers who make port every year if some of the grapes are good enough.

Long live choice!! Long live eccentric declarations!
Top Ports in 2019 (so far): Cockburn 1947 and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
2018 Ports of the year: São Leonardo 1927 White Port (Bottled 2018), Quinta do Noval Nacional 1994

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Axel P
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Re: Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by Axel P » 07:58 Wed 27 May 2015

Hi Chris,

interersting topic, which I gave a lot of thoughts to recently.

Well, as the quality of the Ports is getting better and better throughout the trade,what harm could this do? On the other hand if you are around at true verticals from still wine-producers, you can easilt spot the bad years where you think they should not have bottled this under the label, but they do.

For Port this "three times per decade" was rather something they came up with after doing it for decades than a hard target for the producers that they came up with intentionally. Being true for many decades this creates some serious PR problems for Port. Once a year like 2011 has passed, what is to follow? - maybe 15 again? And the misterical finding of an old cask and bottling this as whatever does not do the job here.

I am fully on with Christian and do think that they should bottle whenever the quality is there. If the quality is as convincing as Noval, why not?

Axel
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RAYC
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Re: Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by RAYC » 19:50 Wed 27 May 2015

Chris Doty wrote:curiously not 2005, although apparently it was 100% QdN fruit).
By "it" you presumably meant Noval Silval 2005 - I seem to remember Christian Seely mentioning at BBR's Noval event in late 2010 that, at the time of the 2005 declaration, they still did not feel they could release the first-label VP in three consecutive years (and so he regarded the 2005 Silval as something of an "insider's secret"). Interesting to see that this former position seems to have changed with the declaration of 2013.

I know that Richard Mayson is a big fan of their 2008 and 2004 (TNs here and here), scoring them favourably to the 2003 / 2007 on at least one occasion (TNs here)
Axel P wrote:For Port this "three times per decade" was rather something they came up with after doing it for decades than a hard target for the producers that they came up with intentionally.
How much do you think this also has to do with producers' willingness nowadays to release small quantities of a vintage port (eg: 1000 cases of 2004 Noval vs 6000 cases of 2003 Noval)? I don't have a good sense as to whether there's increased confidence that the costs of / demands for small extra declarations now make it worthwhile to produce even a small quantity of VP from your best vines, as opposed to waiting for the next time harvest is good enough to support a bigger quantity. But my gut feeling is that may be a factor in the changing pattern of declarations. Albeit Sandeman seem to have gone the other way!
Last edited by RAYC on 19:55 Wed 27 May 2015, edited 1 time in total.
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jdaw1
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Re: Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by jdaw1 » 19:55 Wed 27 May 2015

RAYC wrote:Albeit Sandeman seem to have gone the other way!
GTDS has told us that the former Sandeman habit of declarations being many and eccentric was, well, former.

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Re: Quinta do Noval - Declaration Philosophy and Results

Post by Andy Velebil » 23:10 Wed 27 May 2015

One aspect to keep in mind is technology. Before one was solely at the mercy of mother nature. As technology (i.e. lagar cooling, better picking bins) and winemaking (i.e. block planting, ground cover) has progressed over the years it has become possible to make better wines, even in years that would have been impossible in the past.

I see no reason in this day and age not to declare in each year a company feels they have made a product that has met their top quality standards. However, I do understand economics does come in to play. If you declare too much you risk over saturating markets which would only hurt your product and most likely end up driving down prices. The roughly 3 times per decade we see now seems to be working fairly well to generate interest and hype and thus sales. Would a wholesale attempt at declaring more by most producers be a wise move?

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