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This is a wine that confirms something that for me is a deep conviction. What makes the excellence of a wine is the quality of the grapes, the character of the harvest and the place from which they come. These are far more important than anything we can do, whether in the vineyard or in the cellar.
The Nacional is vinified in the same way as the other grapes from the Quinta do Noval vineyard, with footsteps in a stone press - a simple yet laborious process - and the result is always something very different with regard to the Vintage Nacional, when compared to the remaining Port of Quinta wine. The Vintage National is what it is because of the grapes and their parcel of origin, not because of a special winemaking process.
Always different, and with a unique character, the Vintage National vineyard does not always follow the same pace as the rest of the property. In 1996, for example, a year that was not declared Vintage for the rest of Quinta do Noval's vineyard, Vintage Nacional turned out to be exceptional and so we decided to declare it. There are other years, however, when we declared Quinta do Noval Great vintage but in which the National simply does not manifest and so we do not declare it. 2007 is an example of this.
From 1994 we decided to declare Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional only when it is truly exceptional, and we have respected the decision ever since. All National Vintage are excellent National Vintage. There were years when we would have been tempted to declare it, but we decided not to. We are guardians of the reputation of this magical wine and in the long run that is what matters.
Vintage National is very much in demand due to the limited quantity we produce - only between 200 and 250 boxes in each reporting year. It represents only a small percentage of Quinta do Noval Vintage's production (from 1200 to 5000 boxes per declared year), which in turn represents about 10% of Noval's total production in Vintage declaration years.
Given its extremely low production, the amount of Vintage National sold is very small. The Vintage National bottle that hits the market over time is sold at a very high price, a reflection of the exceptional quality and rarity of the world's most prized Port.