Fonseca belongs in the first rank of Vintage Port houses. It is recognised for the stylistic consistency of its wines which have been made by five generations of the same family since the firm’s foundation in 1822. Fonseca Vintage Ports are noted for their expressive, luscious fruitiness, which develops great opulence and complexity with age, as well as a voluptuous roundness on the palate supported by velvety mouth-filling tannins.
Fonseca Vintage Ports are often the preferred choice of the enthusiast and connoisseur, wines born of inspired and passionate winemaking and a thorough understanding of viticulture and terroir.
Fonseca Vintage Ports are produced from grapes grown on the firm’s own estates or ‘quintas’. The most famous of these is Quinta do Panascal, a historic property long recognised as the source of some of the finest wines in the Douro Valley.
The Fonseca 2009 blend is based on wines from Quinta do Panascal and Quinta do Cruzeiro. There is also a small amount of wine from Quinta de Santo António, the first time that the estate has contributed to a classic vintage port blend since it was converted to organic viticulture.
Commenting on the 2009s, Head winemaker David Guimaraens noted: “2009 will be remembered as a year of low yields which produced wines of massive density and scale. This was partly the result of the small amount of fruit produced across all grape varieties and also to the very dry summer during which there was almost no rainfall from July to harvest time in September.”
Blender Mario Araújo, who celebrates his 50th year working in the Fonseca tasting room, noted: ‘This is one of the most impressive young vintage ports that I can remember. In many ways it reminds me of the 1970 with its firm tannins and powerful fruit.’
Fonseca’s CEO Adrian Bridge, remarked: “I am delighted to announce that Fonseca will bottle a declared vintage port from 2009. It is very unusual to have a string of four great vintages in a decade. This is a reminder that, although we can tip the balance in our favour through investment in our vineyards, ultimately it is nature which is in control.”
The 2009 viticultural year started early with the first buds appearing within the first few days of March. Vegetative growth was healthy and vigorous but vine fertility was low, with all varieties producing only a small amount of fruit. The colouring of the grapes (véraison) also started earlier than usual. The relatively cool conditions in July meant that ripening was initially slow but this accelerated in August with the onset of very hot weather. Both July and August were extremely dry, with hardly any rainfall, and the arid conditions continued into September. The harvest on the Fonseca properties began relatively early. The first property to start picking was Quinta do Panascal where the harvest started on 10th September. The two Pinhão Valley properties, Cruzeiro and Santo António, followed a few days later on 15th and 20th September respectively. The reduced yields, resulting from low vine productivity and the very dry summer, resulted in dense and concentrated musts with high levels of tannin, sugar and colour.