Quinta De La Rosa Late Bottle Vintage Port (2007 Unfiltered)
Review: Quinta de la Rosa Late Bottle Vintage Port (2007 Unfiltered) 79/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published June ,2018
Quinta de la Rosa was established in 1906 when the Port house was given to Claire Feueheerd as a Christening gift. Although the family rum Port shipping company was shut down in the 1930s, Claire maintained the vineyards and ran la Rosa. In 1988, Claire’s Granddaughter, Sophia and her father, Tim Bergqvist decided to relaunch Quinta de la Rosa as a small family run winery producing a variety of wines including Port.
Quinta de la Rosa Late Bottled Vintage Port wines are produced from grapes grown in a single year at Quinta de la Rosa. They are matured for between four and six years; but they are not filtered prior to bottling. In the case of the 2007 LBV, this wine was produced from grapes harvested in mid September 2007 , and it was bottled almost four years later in July 2011.
It should be pointed out that unfiltered (sometimes called traditional) LBV Port wine differs from filtered LBV Port in that the traditional LBV Port wine is bottled without removing the sediment from the wine. This sediment contains residual material from fermentation including grape skins and stems which were crushed into the grapes when they were pressed for juice. These ‘fines’ play a role in maturation of the wine, and when they are not filtered out the wine will actually continue to age after bottling. Prior to serving, these fines are usually filtered out, or ‘decanted’ as they definitely do not add to the enjoyment of the Port when it is consumed.
There are many schools of thought regarding the proper amount of time to decant an unfiltered LBV Port Wine properly. My tendency is to use a rather experimental approach to search out the proper breathing time, as I have found different vintages and different brands seem to behave differently each time I open a bottle. When I brought out this particular bottle, I let it stand upright for half a day before I opened it. When I opened it I poured it though a double layered piece of cheese cloth into my Port decanter. The cheese cloth effectively removes any sediment or fines that may have accumulated. Then, I left the decanter open while I was sampling the Port for the first time with the intention of returning the port wine to its original bottle once I felt the wine was tasting as it should.
Normally, I would leave a bottle like the Quinta de la Rosa LBV 2007 in my cellar (actually it is a cold room) for several years before I would open it to receive the benefit of bottle aging. However, the particular bottle I have pictured below was given to my by the folks at Thristy Cellars for the purpose of a review. I would expect that whatever scores I assign during this review would actually increase if I were to allow the wine to mature in my cold room.
(Some people have told me that I may drink LBV Port straight from the bottle without letting it breath, but I have found that whether a LBV is filtered or unfiltered, allowing the bottle (or glass) to breathe opens up the wine bringing forward a fresher fruitier flavour which I prefer.)
In the Bottle 4/5
I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw my sample bottle of the de la Rosa Port wine. It is unusual see an LBV Port Wine in a non-traditional bottle. The bottle is short and stubby and to be honest looks more like a rum bottle than a wine bottle. I have to say, I like it! Finally I have found a Port wine house that dares to look uniformity in the face and say, “No!”. Perhaps the bottle should have been darkly coloured to protect the wine from the light; but this is a minor quibble.
Having said all that, I do wish the label had more ‘pop’. As you can see, minimal effort was put into the front label, and even though this bottle looks different from the other port bottles in my cold room, there is precious little information provided to the consumer to give them a reason to pick this bottle over any others. I also found it odd that an unfiltered LBV Port would arrive with a straight sided – plastic topped cork; I have more to say on that count in the review.
In the Glass 18/25
When poured into my glass, the wine was a nice rich plum colour. The center of my wine glass was almost deep purple, and the crest at the rim was a nice shade of violet. When I poured the wine into my glass. there was almost no scent at all rising up to greet me. Perhaps a bit of graphite, and an indication of wet gravel was all that I noticed. Over time some faint raisin and cherry notes arose, alongside some sort of mealy vegetal aroma. It was obvious to me that this wine was going to require a lot of time to bring forward the rush of berry and fruit sensations which I relish in a good Port. So I waited, and waited and waited.
Unfortunately the gush of fruit never arrived. Instead some indistinct notes of poplar and cedar wood arose, alongside a restrained indication of cherry and raspberry.
In the Mouth 41/50
When I poured my first glass of Quinta de la Rosa I encountered a mixture of odd flavours which reminded me of mealy fruit tinged with wood sap with light hints of sourness. Understanding that sometimes an unfiltered Port requires time in the glass I let the glass sit, (and I left my decanter sit open) for several hours. Although the nose was seemingly not benefiting from the breathing time, the flavour was. The glass was noticeably fruitier after a couple of hours, and much of the initial unpleasantness had dissipated. However, the wine still carried what I will term ‘a tannic sharpness’ that caused me to seal up the Port for the night such that I could try again the next evening.
When I returned to the Port the next day, I noticed more fresh fruit and berry flavours had come forward, and I was tasting a little less of that sharpness. The wine was apparently settling down as it oxidized. This pattern continued as I sampled the wine each day over the next week with more fruitiness apparent with each tasting. Having said that, even when the wine reached its apex on the seventh day, I would not term the wine as bursting with fruit even then. Instead the fruit was restrained and the Port seemed to carry an oddly metallic ‘mineral’ quality which seemed out-of-place. I did notice that the tannins and acidity remained quite firm throughout the tasting, and I suspect that aging in the bottle would improve the score tremendously. (It was strange that the makers of this port chose to use a straight sided cork with a plastic head, as my understanding is that this style of cork may inhibit the aging process as the plastic head on the cork interferes with the ability of the bottle to breathe.)
In the Throat 12/15
The wine exits with a bit of tannic dryness and fresh acidity. I taste some dry fruit and chocolate, however I also taste that odd metallic mineral quality just a little more firmly than I would like, even after much breathing time has been allowed.
Final Impression 4/5
The Quinta de la Rosa required a great deal of breathing time (oxidation) to reach its apex of flavour. In fact, it was a full seven days after I opened the bottle when the wine was half gone that I finally fully enjoyed the flavour the glass presented. My final score of 79 is perhaps a bit lower than it should be, based upon the flavour I encountered on the seventh day. However, it took a dreadfully long time to get there, and I do not believe most consumers would have been as patient as I was. My final score reflects this. I should note however, that I feel the wine would have great potential if left to age in my cold room as there seems to be strong tannin flavours and a firm acidity present.
If you are interested in some comparative reviews, here is a link to all of my Port Wine Reviews!
Note: My Wine Scores are computed in the same manner as my scores for distilled spirits. This means that my total score out of 100 is generally lower than what you would see in popular wine rating magazines. (Those magazines appear to have a system which scores almost all wines at 85 points or more.)
My system which is described below and you may (loosely) interpret my scores as follows:
0-25 A wine with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 A mediocre wine which will excite no one.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, still rather unexciting.
80-84 Enjoyment begins here.
85-89 Very good to excellent!
90-94 You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this one yet…but I want to.