2016 Fonseca Vintage Porto

Year: 2016
Appellation: Oporto
Country: Portugal
Wine Spectator: 97
Wine Advocate: 97
Vinous Media: 96
James Suckling: 98
Wine Enthusiast: 97
Fortified Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 20.0%
Price :
$89.95

Only the fourth declared in this century, the 2016 Port vintage is “near perfection.”

"This leads in with bramble, spearmint and blueberry notes, with the energy extending through the core of dark plum, blackberry and fig fruit. The finish features a strong graphite spine, allowing this to draw deep water, but this remains stylish in feel overall. Best from 2030 through 2055. -J.M." (WS)

"The 2016 Vintage Port is a field blend sourced from the typical three Quintas (Panascal in the Tavora Valley and Quinta do Cruzeiro and Quinta de St Antonio in the Pinhão Valley). This was not quite bottled when first seen (set for a week later). It is now in the USA. It was aged for 20 months in wood and comes in with 99 grams of residual sugar. This dry and focused Fonseca was, in my initial July 2018 report, the pick of the Fladgate Group's litter in 2016. What has most changed in this issue is that Taylor's is showing a lot better while this has closed down a bit more. This is not seriously diminished, though. It is pretty brilliant. If you want that old-school power, it comes with Fonseca in this vintage. Taylor's may have the sexiest fruit of the three, but this seems to have the most muscle. It is true that the balance on the two just might be affecting that perception. Taylor's has a bit more mid-palate depth to soak up the power. Still, if Taylor's is flashier and richer in 2016, this seems even more serious. In the long lifespan of Ports, to be sure, it won't be unusual for them to keep flipping back and forth. Admittedly, this is also probably the hardest to read. Still, I couldn't help but think that this might have slightly more upside potential. Check in around 2060 or so to see if I'm right. (Send me an email if you don't think so. I want to hear from you.) On this second look, this Fonseca is still remarkably expressive, lifted and gloriously fresh, even with that slight closing. It has reasonable mid-palate concentration but even better intensity of flavor. Despite that intensity of flavor, it is not quite as sexy as it is in some years, at least not yet, as the tannins are firmly in charge. That isn't changing anytime soon. This rather stern Fonseca simply revels in its brilliant structure. This is a Port that demands cellaring if you want it to be all it can be. You and it will profit from at least 10 more years of cellaring. Doubling that will help a lot more." (WA)

"The 2016 Fonseca Vintage Port began to be picked on 21 September at their Panascal vineyard, their Quinta do Cruzeira vineyard not picked until 6 October. It is deep, almost inky in colour. The bouquet is very intense with luscious black fruit laced with embers, clove and hints of bay leaf. There is wonderful purity here and a broodiness that suggests you'd better be patient. The palate is sweet and lively on the entry with some gorgeous ginger and curry leaf notes littered over the compact black fruit. There is wonderful density to this Fonseca. It is like a coiled spring with so much energy towards the finish that you just know this will be a long-term prospect. Superb. Production is 4,900 cases." (VM)

"Lots of ripe fruit here with raisins and wet earth that turn to violets and hot stones. Full-bodied, tannic and powerful with fantastic grip and intensity. Grabs you. Impressive. Drink in 2025." (JS)

"This bottling brings together a fine structure with great fruit to give a luscious wine that is also destined for long-term aging. With its ripe berry flavors sustained by some acidity, this is already balanced. Drink from 2028" (WE)

Winery Notes:
Tasting Note:
Dense purple black with a narrow purple rim. The nose opens with very fine pure black fruit, a fusion of black cherry, cassis and blackberry jam aromas, with notes of crushed mint, an ethereal fragrance of violets and undertones of ripe tropical fruit. The year has added an additional layer of purity and refinement to the subtle, complex Fonseca fruit character, as well as an attractive minerality. The palate is supported by a vibrant acidity and taut, wiry tannins that provide structure but also texture and volume. The fresh berry flavours carry into the long finish. A finely crafted and perfectly balanced Vintage Port.

Notes on the Viticultural Year:
The weather pattern leading up to the 2016 harvest was relatively unusual. Rainfall in April and May was almost three times the 10-year average. This replenished ground water reserves reduced by the dry conditions the previous year but also resulted in significant fruit loss and reduction in yields in some areas as well as a late start to the maturation cycle. In contrast, July saw the onset of hot, dry conditions that lasted for the rest of the summer. Ripening was even, gradual and rounded off by a spell of rainfall towards the middle of September. Estates that delayed picking until after the rains were rewarded by perfect harvesting weather, the cool nights contributing to long, well-balanced fermentations and gentle extraction. Wine makers' notes record that the young wines displayed very fine aromas as well as pronounced tannins. This early promise has been fully realised, with the 2016 vintage ports showing elegance, finesse, crisp acidity and tannins of exceptional quality. Picking at Fonseca's Panascal estate began on 21st September and at Quinta do Cruzeiro in the Pinhão Valley on the 28th. Fonseca's third property, Quinta do Santo António, only started harvesting on 6th October.