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Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional 2016

Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional 2016

Availability: Out of stock

£43.99


"The 2016 Touriga Nacional was aged for 16 to 18 months, depending on plot, in 90% new, light-toast French oak. It is sourced from two different vineyards plots, one with southern exposure and the other north-facing, averaging 35 years in vine age. The two plots were fermented separately. It comes in at 13.5% alcohol, a decline from the 2015. Overall, this seems every bit its equal, probably its superior. Tight and aromatic, this throws off big blue-fruit aromas and flavors turning to a bit of blackberry on the end. Bright, silky and very focused, this precise Touriga has superb structure, a certain sexy demeanor despite its elegance and plenty of finesse. When all is said and done, this is likely to be one of Crasto's finest Tourigas. Maybe the 2015 will overtake it. Maybe not. I'm still a little wary—this 2016 was only in bottle about 90 days when seen and is very unevolved. I'm leaning up for the moment, though, as the combination of elegance and sex appeal makes this seem very special just now. 

Note that this was double decanted for about six hours before being tasted. It was quite drinkable at that point, and the tannins are moderate, but that's not how it will show from a newly opened bottle. This will acquire balance and more complexity around 2023 or so. There were 7,800 bottles produced. Drink: 2021-2040. 95 points

It's raining Crasto—this issue has a big collection of them. You may want to get a bucket out and catch some of the downpour. The wines showed great.

First, we revisit Crasto's 2015s, seen originally in Porto last year. They were actually a bit closed on this tasting but very fine. Then, we get the first look at the 2016s. (The regular Branco 2018 and the 2016 Tinta Roriz were not quite bottled; they will be reviewed later.) There are also some exciting specialty items—the Honore Very Old Tawny Port (revisited) from the 19th century and the Honore Douro DOC Tinto—a brand-new blend of Maria Teresa and Vinha da Ponte, available only in magnum. Finally, Crasto also has its first-ever (from Crasto) monovarietal Touriga Franca, joining Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional.

Speaking of Tinta Roriz, this issue includes a Tinta Roriz vertical (all vintages selected by the producer). Tinta Roriz (as it's known in Douro and the north of Portugal or as Aragonez in southern Portugal, among other names) is not nearly as famous in Portugal as in neighboring Spain, where it's known as Tempranillo. Charles Symington, whose family now owns Quinta de Roriz, said, "Tinta Roriz was first planted in Portugal at Quinta de Roriz which gave the quinta its name....It may well have been brought from Spain." Down south, regarding the Aragonez name used in places like Alentejo, Manuel Lobo (Crasto's winemaker) mentioned the Kingdom of Aragon. History aside, the path to glory is a little more difficult for this grape in Portugal than in Spain. Producers have spoken to me about the wrong clones being planted and so on. In Dão, one producer told me that he ripped out all of his Tinta Roriz in order to plant new and better clones.

There are some producers doing well, however. Quinta Nova's Grande Reserva Referência is exceptional, but it is only around 75% Tinta Roriz, not a monovarietal. Other contenders are popping up. Some recent bottlings I liked a lot came from Vallado, Quinta do Vale Meão's Monte Meão Cabeço Vermelho and Quinta de Lemos, all of which are generally newer. In sum, when you look around for established and top monovarietal bottlings, it is Crasto's name that invariably pops up to the top. So, we're checking in this issue on some oldies with an interesting vertical. Remember that these all had perfect provenance—obtained directly from the winery. Your mileage may not necessarily be the same.

Manuel Lobo told me that Crasto's vineyards/plots of Tinta Roriz were planted in 1984 to 1986, with the supervision of Nuno Magalhães, a university professor of viticulture, and "for sure one of the best experts in viticulture of Portugal." The Crasto Roriz vineyards (three plots) are located at 300 meters in altitude, with different exposures (east, south and north), planted as “socalcos" (traditional terraces supported by stone walls) and “patamares” (small terraces) of two rows. Lobo said, "The soil is very particular, and I believe it has a great impact on the vines and on the final wine. It’s a very poor schist soil with a layer of 50 centimeters of clay at a depth of one meter, which allows the retention of water. Very important to allow a correct maturation of grape tannins, especially on dry years. Regarding the winemaking, since I arrived at Crasto [in 2007], all of these vineyards were fermented separately. Two of the vineyards aged 18 months in new French oak barrels from a selection of different cooperages with medium toasts. The other vineyard plot aged for 16 months in new French oak barrels also from a selection of different cooperages, but in this case with lighter toasts. The final blend is a selection of the best performing barrels."

Overall, these showed very well. The oldies aged brilliantly and developed, not just held. That's a great sign. In many ways, the 1999 was my favorite of the tasting. There is still some question of greatness—the wines are superb but a little shy of great. There is still some work to do. Obviously, styles have changed as well. The newer wines show more finesse and pay more attention to taming tannins. Hopefully, the future is bright. Pricing on older bottles is just an example of typical prices of newer wines; they are not necessarily available.
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Mark Squires, Wine Advocate (241)