The 2018 vineyard cycle was unusual and had a marked effect on the character of the wine. The previous year had been very dry and hot and by 15th January nearly two thirds of the country was suffering from drought, the Douro Valley being one of the worst affected areas. Luckily, heavy rainfall in March avoided damage to the vines and replenished ground water reserves. The growing season from March until the end of June was relatively cold and wet, bringing mildew in some areas. Devastating hailstorms on 28th May caused extensive damage to vineyards in the Pinhão area, including Taylor Fladgate’s Quinta do Junco.
The development of the vines was about three weeks behind that of 2017, flowering occurring in late May and véraison in the last week of July. Dry, warm conditions prevailed throughout July followed by a wave of very intense heat in August. On 3rd August, the weather station at Taylor Fladgate’s Quinta de Vargellas recorded a temperature of just over 44°C. The extreme heat allowed the vines to make up some lost time and the abundant groundwater accumulated earlier in the year meant that, in spite of the hot conditions, ripening of the crop was gradual and balanced.
Picking at Quinta de Vargellas began on 17th September in hot, dry weather which continued for the duration of the harvest. Yields were very low and winemakers’ notes report that the new wines displayed elegance, freshness of fruit, good acidity and intense color.
Impressive purple-black core with a narrow purple rim. An intense burst of powerful woodland fruit, a dense coulis blackberry and blackcurrant, almost overwhelms the nose. The black fruit aromas are infused with discreet notes of cherry and mocha. As would be expected of Taylor’s, the fruit is very fine and focused, but the year seems to have given it an additional layer of density and weight. A familiar veil of violet scent hangs over the wine, together with a fragrance of rose petal and wild, minty herbal aromas.
On the palate, the wine has beautifully ripe tannins, which integrate perfectly into the mid-palate, providing both structure and volume, and then break out on the finish with a firm wiry, grip. The palate closes with a powerful tide of fresh, complex fruit flowing endlessly through the finish. In the 2018, the Taylor traits of fine fruit and inner power combine seamlessly with the ripeness and depth typical of the vintage.