It displays the rich, dense woodland fruit which is the keynote of the Fonseca house style.
Impenetrable purple-black at the centre, with a narrow band of violet on the rim. The nose is dense and compact, with impressive depth and background. The fruit quality is superb, a luscious blend of black and red berry aromas which is the hallmark feature of Fonseca's vintage ports, mingled with notes of dark chocolate. Around this core of powerful, complex fruit is an aura of balsamic, minty scents. Although the nose is sensuous and seductive, there is an attractive firm edge, provided by graphite and a flinty minerality.
The first impression on the palate is of silky smoothness but the tannins suddenly burst out on the finish with an assertive pungency and a wire of acidity runs through the wine to give it a lively freshness. There is an abundance of crisp, berry fruit flavour which carries into the long finish. This superb Guimaraens Vintage Port displays stamina and depth but is sufficiently supple and expressive for early drinking.
Notes on the year
The character of the 2018 wines was influenced by an unusual and occasionally challenging viticultural year. This followed a very hot and dry 2017 and, by mid-January, 56% of Portugal, in particular the northeast, had been declared to be in severe drought. Fortunately, March was very wet and the heavy rainfall, totalling 223 mm at Pinhão, built up the reserves of ground water which would prove vital during the ripening season. Until the end of June, the weather remained cold and wet, causing mildew in some vineyards, and hailstorms on 28th May caused extensive damage to some properties in the Pinhão area.
The vineyard cycle was about three weeks behind that of the previous year, with véraison only occurring in late July. The weather in July was dry and relatively mild but August saw the arrival of intensely hot weather with temperatures well over 40°C being recorded in the Douro Superior area in the first days of August. The heat allowed the cycle to catch up and, although the hot weather continued, the large amount of moisture in the soil resulted in an even and balanced ripening of the grapes. Harvesting began at Fonseca's Quinta do Panascal in the Távora Valley and on its Pinhão Valley properties, Cruzeiro and Santo António, in the week of 22nd September and was carried out in hot, dry conditions. The young wines were very deeply coloured and stood out for their fresh fruit character and excellent acidity.