Spotlight on Portuguese Dry Wine: Quinta do Noval Cedro do Noval 2007

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Quinta do Noval is becoming one of the more important houses in Portugal for dry red wine. Situated in the Douro, Quinta do Noval was founded in 1715 and started making dry reds in 1996 (but only marketing the wines as of 2004). Over time, the estate was driven towards the brink of bankruptcy until it was sold by its former owners, the Van Zeller family, to AXA Millesimes and is headed by Christian Seely who is given free reign by the corporate conglomerate.

It is amazing that a Quinta famed for one of Portugal’s greatest ports, “Nacional” made from a single vineyard of very old ungrafted Touriga Nacional vines, also has managed to turn out some of the country’s finest dry reds that are constantly improving.

A Touch of Internationalism

All the table wines at Noval are fermented in conical steel tanks. Seely has said that Legares are not good for table wines as the grapes are prone to oxidation. While most of the excitement in Portuguese wine comes from its bevy of undiscovered indigenous grapes, Noval has become well known for planting Syrah vines (Seely notes that their vineyards have schist soil overlooking a river, much like Hermitage), and blending syrah into their second wine, Cedro do Noval.

As such, this 2007 has 35% of Syrah blended in with 30% Touriga Nacional, 25% Touriga Franca and 10% Tinta Cao. Seely insists that his intention is not to make the wines international, but rather to experiment and also to produce a more accessible wine at a younger age.

Quality Wine on the Rise

The wine pours an extremely rich dark red and opens with oak, spice, chocolate, and dark red fruit aromatics. There is a heaviness to the nose that suggests lack of balance, but after a few hours open, this, along with everything else, integrates very well.

The palate tasted of blackberries and chocolate and is very dark and rich. Nonetheless good acid keeps the wine speaking and I think this is a worthy bottle at its price point, but I wish it went in a different direction (I still prefer Ribera del Duero or Rioja reds over most of the Portuguese reds I’ve had so far). However, there is something unique and compelling about the wine and despite its bigness it maintains an old world feel. There is also a softness to the texture that pegs this immediately as old world. It is not hard to appreciate that this is quite a delicious wine and it prompts me to seek out Quinta do Noval’s top wines.

Very Good+
$35 at BCLDB

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