This venerable port wine producer was founded in 1822 with the acquisition of Manuel Guimarens of the trading company called Fonseca e Monteiro. Shortly after the purchase, Manuel Pedro Guimarens had to flee Portugal by hiding in an empty port wine barrel. He settled in England, where the company was headquartered until 1927. Now it is back in Porto and still thriving.
Fonseca grew quickly, and by 1840 it had become the second largest port shipper, and seven years later the first Fonseca vintage port was shipped to England where consumers appreciated the exquisite taste of vintage dated ports and were prepared to pay extra for the privilege.
Since its foundation a family member managed Fonseca. The founder’s great-great-grandson Bruce Guimarens supervised the company’s extensive vineyard holdings in the Pinhao Valley (Upper Douro) and further south from 1955 to 1996. His son David is the current winemaker with the additional responsibility to supervise the stocks of aging port wine in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Today, Fonseca is owned and managed by Taylor, Fladgate. Both the chairman Alistair Robertson of the board, and David Guimarens are members of the company’s executive board.
Fonseca owns several estates (Quinta) in the Upper Douro Valley, all of which are reputed to yield the best fruit for fortified wine. Quinta de Cruzeiro and Quinta do Panascal and Quinta de Santo Antonio are, in the Cima Corgo, and provide the fruit both for Fonsca’s vintage and Guimarens vintage ports.
All are A –rated properties. In teh Douro Valley vineyards are rated A to F. Quintas that are rated A are located on high altitudes and planted with the noble grape varieties (touriga nacional, touriga francesa, tinta roriz, tinta cao, tinta barroca and tinta amarela). The Port Wine Institute in Porto allows 48 varieties, but those mentioned above are considered the best and most flavourful.
Fonseca’s consistency of style is legendary. Connoisseurs depend on it and can expect to find it in every bottle they acquire. The leading brand of this legendary company is Fonseca Bin No 27 and white port. Most of the fruit for Bin 27 originate in Quinta do Panascal in the Tavora Valley, south of the Douro River.
Fonseca’s white port (available at the L C B O is a blend of arinto, boal, codega, esqana cao, folgasao, gouveia, viosinho and rabigato. This rich sweet, fragrant port is full-bodied, and velvety on the palate. The finish is long and satisfying. It should be served chilled, and can be enjoyed as an aperitif or at the end of an extended dinner with fresh, ripe, seasonal fruit.
Fonseca’s tawny port (aged for a minimum of three years in 630 liter casks) is fruity and full bodied with nutty and raisin aromas.
Bin 27, the most famous brand of all, is aged for four years, and blended from the wines of three estates. It possesses a deep dark red colour, aromas of berries with an excellent mouth feel and depth. A long and satisfying finish proves quality and care in its creation.
Vintage port requires bottle aging and Guimarens 1987 proves the point with a vibrant crimson colour, blackberry aromas, and fill body. It is velvety with pleasant spicy undertones. This well extracted wine is succulent, and finishes gloriously. Ready to drink now.
Fonseca 1985 vintage port is inky black with a powerful, fruity bouquet and hints of medicinal aromas. It has excellent depth and layers of flavours that open up in midpalate. Ready to enjoy now.
Fonseca 2003 vintage port – I had tasted this wine in Toronto in 2005. At this tasting in Fonseca’s tasting room overlooking the Douro River in 2006 the wine had evolved more aromatic and became more nuanced. It had more power and depth. Recommend buying a few bottles and cellar for at least ten years.
Fonseca Guimarens vintage ports are produced in much smaller quantities than regular vintage ports. They mature a little faster than regular vintage ports and are released ready to drink.
You can depend on Fonseca’s quality and consistency.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
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