2016 Smith Woodhouse Vintage Porto

Year: 2016
Appellation: Oporto
Country: Portugal
Wine Spectator: 97
Wine Advocate: 91
Vinous Media: 91
James Suckling: 96
Wine Enthusiast: 94
Fortified Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 20.0%
Price :
$59.95

"A serious Port in the making, loaded for bear with dark currant paste, warmed fig sauce and blackberry reduction flavors pouring through. The brambly grip is deeply embedded and there are gorgeous ganache and licorice snap notes hanging on the finish. Best from 2035 through 2055. -J.M." (WS)

"The 2016 Vintage Port is an equal blend of old vines and Touriga Franca, coming in with 113 grams per liter of residual sugar. Fresher, livelier and lusher than the Warre's this issue—which is the most accessible of the Symington declarations—it is also going to be approachable relatively young. This is a fine Port, but it's not truly made for greatness. If it is not quite as rich and decadent as Warre's, it is more lifted on the finish, with a sunny feel and a more aromatic beginning. I liked them about equally well, but the styles are certainly different. Neither may be the best agers. Bottled in May 2018, there were 1,500 cases produced.

Part of the Symington Family houses, Smith Woodhouse was declared this year, along with everything else. All of them were bottled, although not long in bottle. They are set for release in October 2018.

Charles Symington said that 2016 started off very rainy, followed by a hot and dry summer, but with moderate temperatures. It was fairly apparent it would be a later vintage. In mid-August, some rain helped the maturation. At the beginning of September, there was a wave of hot weather. He said that was a crucial moment when he thought of starting harvest, even though it was not quite perfect, but they waited. Victory goes to the bold. Rain in the second week of September caused them to hold back another week, beginning harvest around 22 September. It was a very late harvest, creating a certain element of risk. Touriga Franca, he said, is particularly susceptible to rain. But there was no rain for the next 30 days, making harvest easy. Charles said that the "blue skies and mild temperatures from the 13th September to the 10th October allowed for the Nacional to be picked in late September and the Franca in early October in perfect conditions with fantastic balance. The freshness coming through in these wines being a defining feature of this vintage."

As we debate the trends in Ports (see, last year's article on the 2015s, "Undeclared and Unashamed"), it's worth noting that my favorites of the Symington group are easily the single-plot wines—The Stone Terraces and Capela, both wine-of-the-vintage candidates." (WA)

"The 2016 Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port represents the best production from the Quinta da Madalena vineyard, where picking did not begin until 28 September. It perhaps just lacks the same intensity and complexity of its peers with black truffle and smoke aromas infusing the black fruit. The palate is well balanced with a spicy, stem ginger tinged opening that shows much more promise than the nose. I admire the tension here, a nimble and agile Vintage Port that gathers weight towards the finish. Fine, but perhaps a more short-term proposition than its peers " (VM)

"This is extremely floral with dark fruit and plum character. Full-bodied, very tight and focused. It's a complete young vintage Port that is great from start to finish. Rio Torto fruit makes this great! Better in 2022." (JS)

"Full and rich, the wine has dark tannins and dense blackberry flavors. It is generous wine-juicy, perfumed and layered with impressive tannins. This is a wine with a long-term future, drink from 2028." (WE)

Winery Notes:
Floral aromas of rockrose and violets of the Franca deliver superb elegance, finesse and harmony. The sizeable contribution from the old, mixed vines show through in the gorgeous layers of liquorice and blackberry fruit. The seamless spicy tannins give grip and authority to this Vintage Port.