Wine Star: Quinta do Noval’s Christian Seely

The global winemaking legend shares a taste of Portugal’s celebrated Nacional Vintage Port, and the vineyard it comes from

Wine Star: Quinta do Noval’s Christian Seely
Quinta do Noval's Christian Seely shared the rare 2011 Nacional at the Wine Experience. (Rick Wenner)
Oct 25, 2022

Some names are especially storied among wine lovers. Portugal’s Quinta do Noval and its celebrated Vintage Port Nacional are certainly among them. Much of Noval’s recent success can be attributed to Christian Seely, who has led and modernized the estate since 1993, following its purchase by French insurance company AXA.

Impressively, Seely also oversees AXA’s other wineries, including Outpost on Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain, Sonoma’s Platt Vineyard, Burgundy’s Domaine de l’Arlot and Bordeaux’s Château Pichon Baron, and operates his own acclaimed estate, Quinta do Romaneira.

Seely’s efforts were on display at the Wine Experience, where the audience tasted the 2011 Nacional (98 points, $650 on release). He explained that the wine comes from the small Nacional parcel at the heart of Noval’s 460 acres of vineyards in the Douro Valley.

“The Nacional marches to a different drum,” said Seely. “What’s special about [it] is, of course, that it is made from ungrafted vines.” Indeed, the Nacional plot was unaffected by the 19th-century phylloxera infestation, unlike the rest of Noval’s vineyards. (It was, nonetheless, replanted to ungrafted vines in 1924.) “It’s an absolute miracle,” said Seely. “Quite frankly, we don’t know why it is that ungrafted vines survive in this parcel.”

Adding to its allure, the Nacional site is also particularly low yielding. In 2011—a challenging but excellent year—Noval only made 220 cases of Nacional. “We’re actually drinking, today, a very significant proportion of what we actually made,” Seely observed to applause.

More ny-wine-experience-2022

See More

Dominus Estate’s Balancing Act

Nov 9, 2022

Four Culinary Stars Take on a New Challenger in Pairing Competition

Nov 8, 2022

A Rare Pingus Trio

Nov 7, 2022

2022 Wine Spectator Grand Award Ceremony: Honoring the World's Best Wine Lists

Nov 3, 2022

Wine Spectator Recognizes Restaurant King Danny Meyer with 2022 Distinguished Service Award

Nov 2, 2022

People ny-wine-experience-2022 wine-experience ws-events fortified-wines port Portugal

You Might Also Like

Brandi Carlile Believes Wine Can Make a Difference

Brandi Carlile Believes Wine Can Make a Difference

The powerhouse singer and songwriter has launched a Washington wine company to raise money …

Nov 16, 2022
Aged Whites from Southern Italy?

Aged Whites from Southern Italy?

In pursuit of nuance, Roberto Di Meo holds great Fiano and other whites from Campania for …

Nov 16, 2022
Up to the Challenge

Up to the Challenge

Shannon Staglin leads her family’s Napa estate into the future

Nov 15, 2022
Sommelier Roundtable: What’s Your Favorite Thanksgiving Wine Around $30?

Sommelier Roundtable: What’s Your Favorite Thanksgiving Wine Around $30?

9 top wine pros across the country share their budget-friendly picks to go with turkey and …

Nov 28, 2022
Sommelier Yannick Benjamin Discusses Dignity and Accessibility

Sommelier Yannick Benjamin Discusses Dignity and Accessibility

The restaurateur behind Contento has received a $1 million award for his outstanding work …

Nov 10, 2022
Wine Talk: Oregon's Vivianne Kennedy

Wine Talk: Oregon's Vivianne Kennedy

The transgender winemaker discusses her jump from social worker to vintner and her efforts …

Nov 3, 2022