2003 Quinta de la Rosa Vintage Port

Hello friends. Our Quinta de la Rosa LBV Port offering on March 14 turned into a hot mess, mostly because I waaaaaaay underestimated the interest level in fortified wines.

My excitement at our list’s willingness to venture into the unfashionable quickly turned to horror as I realized we were going to have to seriously under-allocate, as demand far outstripped supply.

I’m hoping that today’s offering will serve as a mea culpa to those who were under-allocated or shut out entirely. It’s a chance to access the next step up the Port ladder: Quinta de la Rosa’s finest wine from the glorious 2003 vintage:

Again, I think we have a pretty exceptional tariff on this one. If we have to under-allocate again, there do seem to be parcels floating around Oregon, although you’ll notice that the prices for full 750ml bottles (that’s what we’re offering today) start at $49.00 and go up from there.

I’ll repeat what I said in the LBV offering: one of the things I love best about Full Pull list members is our willingness to embrace the unfashionable. Ports and sherries and madeiras all fall into the “Grandma’s Tipple” stereotype, which is rough for producers but great for consumers who don’t mind being compared to grandmothers (and who, in fact, love our grandmothers and their tastes in alcohol), because that stereotype has a clear impact: it artificially suppresses prices on otherwise lovely categories. That’s certainly the case here. Thirty dollars, to my mind, does not represent fair value for a full 750ml bottle of vintage Port from a fine producer. But it does represent market value, and bully for that!

As I mentioned in that LBV offering, vintage ports sit at the top of the heap in the Douro, representing a mere 1% of the overall Port market. There are two major requirements for “declaring” a vintage in the Douro. The first is openly acknowledged: you need an outstanding summer in the Douro, with the grapes reaching maximum ripeness with high yields.

The second requirement is more of the dirty-little-secret variety: the port shippers must feel that the market is ready to absorb another vintage. In other words, if you have three great vintages in four years, there’s almost no chance the third vintage will be declared, because there simply aren’t enough port drinkers in the world to absorb all that juice. But that was not a problem in 2003. As you can see from this chart, there had been no declarations since 2000, and only two since 1994, so the market was perfectly ready for the terrific 2003 vintage to come along.

As a reminder, Quinta de la Rosa is located right on the banks of the Douro (see location here), by the bend at Pinhao. Here are several photos from this steep-sloped Quinta (one, two, three). Madness. Unlike QdR’s 2003 LBV, this vintage Port has a fine review out there (94pts) from a major publication (Wine Enthusiast), but it was written eight years ago, so I’m not going to include it here. You’ll have to trust my tasting notes instead.

This kicks off with a deeply expressive nose of fig, smoked cherry, sultana, and silty mineral. Where vintage ports just kill it is with their depth, intensity, and complexity: all present here. Look for golden raisin, maraschino cherry, and apricot. Look for high-cacao chocolate (like some nice Scharffen Berger) and Grade B maple syrup (note: in Vermont maple syrup, Grade B is not worse than Grade A; just different: darker and richer). All that rich, delicious fruit is balanced by bright citrusy acids and swaddled in sweet, fine-grained tannins. I suspect this will evolve in new and fascinating directions for 20-30 years if you can resist its youthful charms.

Please limit order requests to 4 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

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