Robert Parker 97
The 2018 Vinha da Ponte, a field blend from very old vines (100+ years), was aged in new French oak for 20 months. It comes in at 14.8% alcohol. As always, Ponte is a very different animal than Maria Teresa. It’s less personable and less exuberant, but it is solid in the mid-palate, brooding a little and promising that better days will come. This is a great Ponte and one of Crasto’s best versions of it. Concentrated and powerful, but with the tannins held in check and still showing some expressiveness, this grabs the palate and doesn’t let go. In fact, this might be a year when this is as open as the Maria Teresa (although it’s never as personable). Serious and long on the finish, this is just a baby that will need a decade in the bottle to show its best, or even show well. It should age well for another decade or two after that. As with the Maria Teresa, it was better the next day. It looks to be brilliant. I still preferred the Maria Teresa—I usually do—but this is a close call this year. Reasonable minds might differ. This Ponte: fuller bodied in mouthfeel, less flavor. Maria Teresa: more finesse, more personality. Both have plenty of power. There were 3,550 bottles produced, plus 150 magnums and 30 three-liter bottles. The big 2018 reds here are set for release in October. At least as of this early moment in their lives, it looks like a fabulous vintage for Crasto. Crasto goes from strength-to-strength these days. You’ll want some. For bargain hunters, the best intersections of quality and price probably come with the Superior Tinto and the Reserva Old Vines. For trophy hunters, just buy everything. It will simplify your life. Then you can spend the next 20 years arguing about which is better. The lower-end value wines, by the way, show great as well. It is hard to argue with anything in this group. Maybe the Branco Superior was a bit ho-hum, but even that was nice.
Anticipated maturity: 2023-2050