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Noval’s vineyards were devastated by phylloxera in the 1880s and 1890s.  The owner replanted over many years, and decided in 1925 to re-plant a tiny parcel of the vineyard with ungrafted vines.  The Nacional name comes from this direct connection of the ungrafted vines to the soil of Portugal.  The 6 acres of Nacional vines are in the middle of the Quinta do Noval vineyard, in an area indistinguishable from, and surrounded by, the other Noval vines.  The Nacional vines have over the years been examined thoroughly by agronomists and scientists.  There have been attempts to plant the vines on other vineyard parcels, without any success.  In the end, the survival of these legendary ungrafted vines remains a mystery.  Tasting a bottle from the minute production of 200-300 cases of Nacional vintage port is every port lover’s fantasy.  Up close, it becomes apparent that the Nacional vines are slightly less vigorous, with smaller trunks and less foliage, and with leaves that are slightly less vibrant green.  The berries are smaller, giving a higher ratio of skin to juice.  The grapes are picked in one day, and trodden in only the smallest lagar, but otherwise are treated with the same meticulous care as the other Quinta do Noval wines.

Nacional bottle