Churchills 2017 Vintage Port, a superb vintage Port from an excellent vintage.
Churchill’s Port was founded relatively recently in 1981 by Johnny Graham. It was the first new Port Wine company to be founded in 50 years. Johnny Graham’s family has a long and illustrious history in the Port trade. Graham’s Port was established in 1820 and sold to the Symington Family in 1970) in the Port trade and Johnny had become a director of Cockburn’s Port before he left to set up his own company and make his own style. The Ports are only made with natural fermentation and with as little fortification brandy as possible as Graham strives for Port wines that are as natural as possible with a perfect balance. The company is named after his wife, Caroline Churchill. The company acquired Quinta da Gricha, where the winery is located, in 1999 which also allowed them to enter into the production of Douro table wines.
All Churchill’s Ports and Douro wines are made only with Grade A grapes and produced exclusively with native grape varieties. After harvest all, all grapes arriving at Quinta da Gricha are carefully hand-selected on grape sorting tables, the grapes are then crushed and vinified in “lagares,” or traditional open granite fermentation tanks; here the grapes are foot-trodden in the time honoured fashion, still the most effective way of producing Vintage Port. The house style of Churchill’s is a comparatively dry style with a longer fermentation time. Longer fermentation means less added brandy, more natural alcohol, therefore, a more natural wine. Also, a longer fermentation gives the wine more structure. This, combine with traditional wine-making produced excellently structured, well-balance Ports with great ageing potential.
The 2017 Port Vintage is of exceptional quality. The vintage was characterised by intense heat with record low levels of rainfall. Flowering and bud burst developed under good conditions and the high daytime temperatures and cool nights in August and September allowed for a gradual and even ripening. Harvest was exceptionally early, with some producers harvesting at the beginning of August. In places the harvest was around 20 to 30% down on a normal harvest, basically due to water stress. So, 2017 produced a smaller quantity of excellent fruit. Conditions were similar to 1945, an extremely highly regarded vintage.
Churchill’s may have hesitated at the idea of declaring two consecutive Vintages, but there was no hesitation by Johnny Graham, founder and head taster of Churchill’s, in declaring the exceptional quality of the 2017 Ports. He says: “there is a raw vibrancy to Churchill’s 2017 Vintage Port, combining a purity of fruit with a vein of natural acidity, which will give this wine great ageing potential.” They have also bottled a small amount of their single-quinta Vintage Port, Churchill’s Quinta da Gricha Vintage 2017.
Also available in half-bottles.