Following a wet 2016, the year started with cold and dry winter conditions, with a fifth less rainfall than the thirty-year average. Bud burst occurred relatively early, around 10th March. The dry conditions continued into Spring and the warm weather in April and May encouraged the rapid growth of the vines. The first three weeks of June were extremely hot, causing damage to the new bunches in some areas of the Douro. The early cycle continued with véraison around 18th June, one month earlier than the previous year. Apart from some thunderstorms and rainfall early in July, conditions remained dry until the end of September although temperatures for much of the ripening season were moderate. As expected, the crop ripened very early, showing high sugar levels which led to longer fermentations and very effective colour extraction. Picking started at Taylor Fladgate's Quinta de Vargellas on 1st September, the earliest in a generation. The last time picking was recorded as having started this early was in 1945 – one of the greatest of the 20th century vintages - when the first fruit was picked on 3rd September. Temperatures at harvest time were mild, with cool nights, leading to balanced fermentations and excellent extraction. The musts were dense and marked by exceptional depth of colour and impressive phenolics.
Opaque black at the centre with a narrow purple rim. Uncompromisingly Taylor Fladgate in style, elegant and precise. The nose is threaded with very fine, linear fruit, heady and complex but restrained by a graphite minerality. Quinta da Vargellas has imprinted its signature fragrance of violets, which hangs like a scented veil over the wine, and there are discreet terroir notes of citrus, wild herbs and gumcistus. The nose is still reserved but there is impressive depth and background, as well as hints of complexities still to emerge with time. The palate is held in place by lithe, muscular tannins, firm and grippy on the finish, and ends with a powerful surge of crisp, pure berry fruit. A beautifully delineated wine, with the hallmark Taylor Fladgate poise and definition and the tantalising promise of pleasures still to come.