2017 Vintage Port
Port houses don't declare a vintage all that often and full declarations, where the majority of houses all declare the vintage are less frequent. The universal declaration of 2017 is particularly special as it is the first time in the Symington family's history that consecutive vintages (2016 & 2017) have both been declared. As for Taylor-Fladgate, the last time it happened was the 1846 & 1847 duo. This is great news for Port-lovers as the 2016's were heavily oversubscribed and it was often hard to get everything one wanted.
The Douro experienced an exceptionally dry winter, followed by a warm, dry March, resulting in one of the earliest bud-bursts ever. The vines' cycle continued in an early fashion, with flowering at the beginning of May. The heat rose throughout June and veraison had already occurred by the end of the month. A massive storm ensued at the beginning of July, which came at just the right time to refresh the vines, without the danger of swelling unripe berries. The summer heatwave broke and never really returned. Benign conditions continued through to harvest. A prolonged period of drought meant that the oldest vines with the deepest roots fared best. The resultant crop was unusually healthy but average berry size was smaller than normal; thus the only fly in the ointment for 2017 is that yields were well below typical.
Stylistically, the 2017s are very different to the 2016s so there's plenty of reason to hold both. Where the 2016s are closer in character to the 2011s in terms of elegance and subtlety, the 2017s deliver power that hasn't been seen in a generation or more. In fact, some have already drawn comparisons with the profound 1945s, which resulted from a remarkably similar growing season. The 2017s are also marked by their exceptional balance and wonderfully nuanced aromatics. There seems to be something magical about the '7' vintages for port. 2007, 1997, 1987, 1977, 1967, 1947 and the all-time legend, 1927 all resulted in exceptional vintages.