A tasting of Fonseca ports presented by their brand ambassador, Lorenzo Bakewell-Stone, for Cambridge University Wine Society. Most of the wines are widely available in retail outlets; UK agents are Mentzendorff. Prices are retail to local wine merchants in Cambridge.
Fonseca Siroco White Port
A dry white port. Smells characteristic of white port - slightly cheesy, along with vegetal (cabbages), definite oxidation there, also nutty. Just gently off dry, plenty of acidity, nutty oxidation too; fresh and light on the mouthfeel; slight bitterness at the end. Should be perfect as a long drink with tonic, ice and lime.
Fonseca Bin 27 Reserve Ruby Port
Noel Young £12.49 | B+
Their entry level ruby port. Dark fruit, black berry and cassis, smells quite hot actually, you can almost smell the spirit fortification; also licorice and woody. Lots of fruit, sweet, lush and simple; warmth comes through; bit of tannic group at the end. Actually rather good for an entry level port, better than your average rubies.
Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Reserve Port
Organically grown. A more muted nose, black berry and cassis dominates, theres mint as well; not as voluptuous as the Bin 27. Sweet fruit, lush, dark plums with a savoury / woody touch; whereas the Bin 27 was more fruit forward in style, this is more restrained and focused. Also, I dont know of any other widely available organic ruby port.
2005 Fonseca Unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage
Cambridge Wine £15.99 | B+
Lots of dark fruit, straightforward; sweet fruit, some spice. Theres more on the mouthfeel, improving in texture, slightly thicker; tannic grip also more prevalent. Less aggressive and fruity on the entry, but is more sustained; what I would describe as linear, perhaps.
Fonseca Crusted Port (bottled 2006)
Dark fruit, jammy; quite floral actually, also sweet spice. Lots of fruit, rounded and lush; sweet spice too, also showing more tannic grip on the finish. A touch more complexity and will probably develop with time, attractive style.
Fonseca 10 year old Tawny Port
Red fruit, dried red currants; good oxidative nose; lacquer and nutty notes. Still plenty of fruit on the palate, dried red fruits and raisins; fresh acidity there, nice vibrancy about this. A balanced expression, can be served slightly chilled.
1996 Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Port
Cambridge Wine £29 | B+(+)
Produced in 'lesser' years when they dont declare vintage ports. Sweet, quite jammy, red fruit jelly on the nose, still mostly primary fruit showing; sweet spice too, also touch of mocha. Greater concentration of fruit on the palate, still plenty of primary dark fruits, plums and dark cherries; quite spicy on the palate. Does have decent tannic and acidity, should develop; drink now - 2020+.
1998 Fonseca Quinta do Panascal
Cambridge Wine £26 | B+
A single quinta vintage port; from a quinta that normally forms the backbone of the Fonseca vintage ports.
Slight brick red tinge on the rim, its almost too light. Red fruit, some figs, also floral nose. Palate feels a touch light and lacking in concentration, theres still primary red fruits, along with a spicy edge but it feels mature. Not much tannins, just rounded softness; this is ready to drink and I doubt it'll improve. Beginning to wonder whether its a slightly dodgy bottle?
1985 Fonseca Vintage Port
Really holding it's colour, so deep still, barely a rim, such depth. Black berry, theres heat, almost wood smoke to this, lots of fruit showing, along with a touch of floral scent. Balance, sweet red fruit, still primary but not the most expressive of vintage ports; still fresh with good acidity. I think it will run out of fruit before acid, drink now - 2020+.
2009 Fonseca Vintage Port
The vintage that divided the two port dynasties with the Taylor Fladgate Partnership declaring all their wines (unusually, their fourth declaration in a decade) and the Symington Family Estates not declaring, apart from a small, mainly commemorative declaration of Warre's.
Completely opaque, dark, deep purple rim; really dark. So much dark fruit, cassis, jammy, some floral and mint; everything there, so big, the spirit fortification hasnt quite yet melded together with the wine. Ahhhh so much fruit concentration there, you can still taste the spirit actually; big, concentrated dark fruit, bitter chocolates. Tannins grip everywhere, this is a beast thats nowhere near ready; drink 2025-2045+.