Esteemed Port producer Taylor Fladgate will be releasing limited-edition bottlings from a parcel of old vines in its most renowned vineyard, Quinta de Vargellas. The Vinha Velha wines will be sold in the United States this fall in a boxed set of three vintages: 1995, 1997 and 2000.
Until now, the existence of these Ports has largely been kept quiet. Taylor Fladgate already makes a single-quinta Port from Vargellas in high-quality years, but usually only when the house does not declare the vintage. However, in 1997 and 2000, both of which were declared vintages, Taylor Fladgate made an exception and bottled a couple hundred cases of Quinta de Vargellas Vinha Velha.
Taylor Fladgate has owned Vargellas since 1893, and it is the cornerstone of the house's Ports. The Vinha Velha Ports come from vines that are more than 70 years old and produce only about a third of a bottle of Port each, compared with standard vines that yield a bottle and a half, said managing director Adrian Bridge.
"It's not very economical," said Bridge, who oversees The Fladgate Partnership, which encompasses Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca, Croft and Delaforce Ports. But after looking at the wines those old vines produced, he added, "We decided it would be a shame to replant."
The old-vine Ports are extraordinarily concentrated, rich and powerful. The 1995--the first vintage in which the house produced a Vinha Velha for sale--earned 95 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale; it's an inky-colored, full-bodied wine with loads of sweet fruit and spice and a lengthy finish.
The 1995 is the only one of the three Vinha Velha Ports that has previously been released, and it was sold only in the United Kingdom, said Bridge. This is the first time the wines will be available in the United States.
The three-bottle gift sets of Vargellas Vinha Velha are imported by Kobrand and will be sold in late fall through Park Avenue Liquor Shop in Manhattan and Zachys in Scarsdale, N.Y., and possibly other locations. Only 100 of the sets, packaged in a velvet-lined wooden case, will be available in the United States, and they will be priced at $900.
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