Wine Advocate 90
The NV Black Ruby Reserve Porto is mostly Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Tinto Co aged in an equal mixture of oak and stainless steel. It comes in with 100 grams of residual sugar per liter. This has many fine attributes, but the most important is that it seems very much like Noval. Laced with an invigorating eucalyptus/cistus aromatic, it is always elegant in the mid-palate yet somehow still solid, something I find Noval does very well. It was one of the relatively few in this report that actually seemed better two days later (and most of the others were unfiltered). There is plenty of finesse and lift to the fruit. It is pointed, ripe and chock full of flavor while still showing off some power and structure. This was, in fact, a bit tight on opening. One of the more distinctive Reserves (in part, thanks to the aromatics), this is very well done at a good price point. It became one of my favorites. It is lovely and exceeds expectations, so I'm leaning up on this a bit. It should still be drunk young, as it won't reward aging.
Wine & Spirits 91
"Christian Seely recently introduced this wine in New York as a rethinking of the super-premium, multivintage Porto style. Black replaces LB, Noval's former entry in this range, and uses top-quality fruit to create a soft, accommodating texture. The aromas are purple-black while the flavors are pure black cherry. Acidity spices it up and adds to the juiciness of the finish. It?s plump in the middle and supple all the way through, ending on fruit-skin tannin and a touch of chocolate from oak. At the level of many of the region?s best LBVs, this wine may become a staple for a new generation of Port drinkers."
Quinta do NovalView all from Quinta do Noval
One of the oldest port houses, Quinta do Noval is also arguably the greatest. It is unique among top port houses in that most of the ports are made from estate-grown fruit and, notably, all of the vintage Noval wines are from the single Quinta do Noval vineyard. In addition, it is difficult to elaborate on Quinta do Noval without mentioning Nacional, the legendary port made from a 6 acre parcel of ungrafted vines. When declared, only 200-300 cases of Nacional will be made, and instantly become the most sought after port in the world. Many vintages of Nacional are considered as the finest ports, and some of the finest wines, ever made.
Noval is mentioned in land registries going back to 1715, and has been sold just twice in that time, once in the late 19th century, and to its present owners in 1993. Noval has, however, a reputation for being an innovative, independent producer. Noval's focus on its vineyard and estate ports distinguishes it, but there are numerous other areas in which it has been a pioneer:
– Quinta do Noval was the first to introduce blended tawnies with an indication of average age.
– Noval introduced the first late-bottled vintage port, in 1958.-
– In response to a change in shipping laws in 1986, Noval became the first major port house to age, blend and store all its wines at its Quinta, in the Douro.
In 1994 Noval once again made a bold statement, by beginning a massive program of improvements, while re-committing to the traditional, and best, methods of port production. Namely:
– 60% of the estate's vineyards were taken out, and the terraces were rebuilt and replanted with the best quality grape varieties.
– A new winery, warehouse and bottling facility were built, and the lodge (warehouse) at the Quinta was greatly improved.
– All grapes harvested at the estate are crushed by foot, in lagares that have been made smaller and modified to better control individual lots.
The astonishing terraced vineyards of Noval, perched above the Douro and Pinhao rivers, are an infertile schist, and not soil as much as sheer rock. The elevation of the vineyards goes from just above river level to 1,200 feet, with density at about 2,000 vines per acre, and vines producing on average 30-35 hectoliters per hectare. The tremendous rewards of the work done at the estate over the last fifteen years are visible across the range of Noval ports, and have placed Noval a step ahead of everyone in the Douro.