Quinta do Noval

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Founded in 1715, Noval is the name of both the estate and this historic, unusually vineyard-based, port shipper. Quinta do Noval was owned by the firm António José da Silva, who in 1973 changed their name to Quinta do Noval-Vinhos, because Noval represented their finest wine (and they also wanted to avoid confusion with all the other da Silva companies in oporto). The estate of Quinta do Noval, in the Pinhão valley, enjoyed a heyday in the mid 20th century when run by Luiz Vasconcellos Porto, before being inherited by the Van Zeller family. The firm’s vineyards produce well over 60% of their needs, with the remainder being bought in from other properties in the douro valley. Noval’s most prestigious wine is Nacional, produced from 2.5 ha/5 acres of vines which are not grafted on to phylloxera-resistant American rootstocks and are therefore ‘national’. These vines yield particularly small quantities of fruit, so that a Nacional vintage port is made only in exceptional years. The wines these ungrafted vines produce are amongst the most concentrated of all vintage ports, however, with a deeper colour and much fuller texture than others. This results in these ports’ commanding high prices on the market, with the Nacional 1931 vintage (which Noval was virtually alone in declaring) enjoying almost legendary status. Quinta do Noval suffered a devastating fire at its lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia in 1981 and has continued to age its wines in air-conditioned lodges in the Douro Valley rather than in Gaia.