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THE FINEST QUINTA VINTAGE PORT

GRAHAM’S QUINTA DOS MALVEDOS 2004 VINTAGE PORT

DECANTER’S MOST EXCITING WINES OF 2016

A Decanter Magazine panel of judges tasted blind 195 wines, nominated from a selection of wines from around the world assessed over the last 12 months, and compiled a list of the 75 best wines tasted in 2016. This year, Decanter paid “particular attention to wines with ‘wow factor’”. Sarah Jane Evans MW stated: ‘we were looking for the most complete wines, the most individual, fascinating and the most genuinely enjoyable. They did not have to be classically perfect wines, just memorable.’

Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos 2004 Vintage Port was one of those memorable wines; one of just two Ports included in the ranking of the most exciting wines of 2016. This Malvedos 2004 Vintage Port had previously been awarded a Gold Medal and the REGIONAL TROPHY at the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards. More recently, in May 2016, the International Wine Challenge also recognized the exceptional qualities of the Quinta dos Malvedos 2004 Vintage Port awarding it a Gold Medal and VINTAGE PORT TROPHY for the second year running — a remarkable achievement.

Over the last two decades Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Ports have garnered an impressive tally of ratings and awards. In the three leading UK Wine Competitions: International Wine Challenge; International Wine & Spirit Competition; Decanter World Wine Awards, Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Ports have been awarded no less than 19 Gold Medals and 3 Trophies.  25 years ago the Quinta dos Malvedos 1988 Vintage Port became the first ever wine from Portugal ranked in Wine Spectator magazine’s annual TOP 100 ranking.  No other Quinta Vintage Port comes close to this record. The world’s leading wine critics and wine competitions are in no doubt as to which is the finest Quinta Vintage Port.


Quinta do Bomfim wins major International Wine Tourism Award

The ‘Great Wine Capitals’ association, that groups together nine major wine cities* from around the world, has awarded the 2017 ‘Global Winner Wine Tourism Services’ to the new visitor facility at the Symington family’s Quinta do Bomfim.
 
Bomfim had already won the regional award for 2017, but at a ceremony held in the city of Porto on 10th November, it was nominated ‘Global Winner’, having been selected from amongst a strong list of candidates from around the world.
 
Quinta do Bomfim is a 76-hectare vineyard located near the village of Pinhão in the Alto Douro region of northern Portugal. Originally acquired by Dow’s in 1896, the estate was opened to visitors in May 2015, offering a tour of the winery and the magnificent old vat cellar followed by tastings. Self-guided vineyard walks and picnics are also available.
 
Quinta do Bomfim has been owned by the Symington family since 1912 and is the birthplace of some of the regions greatest Vintage Ports, including the legendary Dow’s 2007; the only Port made this century to have been awarded a coveted 100 Points by Wine Spectator, as well as the Dow’s 2011 Vintage Port, classified as No 1 wine in the world in 2014 by the same publication.
 
The Symington family said; ‘We are delighted that Bomfim has won this important award. For years we have been waiting for visitors to finally discover the incredible beauty of the Douro and now it is happening, bringing new opportunities for our wines and for the people of our region’.
 
Paul Symington, 11th November
 
*Adelaide, Bilbao, Bordeaux, Cape Town, Mainz, Mendoza, Porto, San Francisco and Valparaiso.

2016 Douro Harvest Report

This was the year to really know your vineyard in the Douro; each location and each variety developed at its own individual rhythm and winemakers had to be constantly in the vineyards. Deciding to harvest on a hunch or following fashion was definitely not a good idea in this special year. Intimate knowledge of the vineyards combined with patience has delivered the just reward of some beautiful Ports and Douro wines.

The viticultural year started well with a good wet winter, bringing more than double the rainfall of the previous 2014/15 winter and some 80 mm more than the average of the last 30 years. Warmer than usual temperatures advanced the vegetative cycle by 10 days in most areas. However, the challenge came when unexpectedly the wet weather continued into April and May, with three times the average rainfall for these two months. Locals were presented with the extraordinary site of the Douro in full spring flood. This made the river unnavigable and all boat traffic was stopped, resulting in countless tourists being unable to board their hotel-boats and cruise up the valley to Spain.
 
The wet and cool April and May made it absolutely necessary to work intensively to protect the vines. The Douro is not well suited to such a challenge, with its incredibly steep vineyards and its highly fragmented land ownership. The largest area of mountain vineyard on earth has 17,000 farmers owning less than one hectare of heavily inclined hill-side vines. Many are elderly and have neither the time nor the resources to undertake the necessary measures to protect the vines in such conditions, and it is estimated that the Douro will have produced at least 25% less wine than in a normal year. Those that were able to care for their vines during this period, emerged with a fine and healthy crop of grapes, although the lower temperatures slowed development.
 
June and July brought a return to more normal weather but August was unusually hot and this further slowed the maturation and put considerable strain on the vines. The miraculous, rare, and much-desired August rainfall fell on the 24th and 26th August, but was localized with little evident in the Pinhão valley. Useful amounts fell at Malvedos (18mm), Vesuvio (7mm) and Ataíde (12mm), exactly where it was most needed.
 
September started with an intense heat wave and a high of 43.0 ̊C on Tuesday 6th measured at Quinta do Bomfim. The Douro has become very busy with tourists this year and they could be seen crowding into the few air-conditioned locations to escape the heat, mixing with worried looking farmers in the cafés of Pinhão, Pesqueira and Tua. The stress on the younger vines, with their less developed root systems, was clear. However, the older vines were coping well, with fine green leaves and healthy looking fruit, their deep roots drawing on the humidity from the wet winter and spring. But ripeness for the vines was still some way off as they coped with the special conditions of 2016, and it was clear that a late harvest was desirable in order to bring the vines to optimal maturity. A hasty rush to harvest early for those who were not aware of what was really happening in the vineyard following weeks of intense heat, would be to miss a golden opportunity.
 
From 7th September the temperatures began to reduce and after weeks of careful monitoring of the vines, using modern analytical methods but also the ancient but utterly reliable method of tasting berries in each vineyard, Charles Symington set the picking dates for the 15th for some of our more easterly Quintas, and the 19th for the others. On the 12th and 13th rain fell across the entire Douro region, with 18mm at Cavadinha, 16mm at Bomfim, 20mm at Malvedos, 15mm at Canais, 12mm at Vesuvio and 13mm at Ataíde. Charles suspended picking of the best varieties, either sending the pickers home, or switching them to the younger or less important varieties. Following this well timed rainfall, the harvest resumed on our vineyards on Monday 19th once the vines had accommodated these refreshing showers and had adequate time to rebalance. Charles took another important decision on the 22nd September and delayed picking the Touriga Nacional until the 26th, as the vines were taking their own time to reach maturity. Since then the vintage has proceeded with perfect weather and cool nights. It is rare to be finishing the Douro harvest during the week of the 10th October having had four perfect picking weeks under blue skies.
 
With this year’s special conditions, the vines chose their own rhythm and it was absolutely necessary to understand what was happening in the vineyard after the hot summer. There is no doubt that this year the vines took far longer to regain their all-important balance. This knowledge could only be acquired by many hours of careful analysis amongst the vines. It is only necessary to see the lagares of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and of old mixed Douro vines, currently ending their fermentations, to see what an exceptional result awaited those who did the essential work and had the necessary patience.
 
Paul Symington,
12.10.16
 

“The weather throughout the vintage has been exceptionally good and this has allowed for maturations to develop perfectly. We have been able to decide when to pick without the concern of the weather changing, having stopped the vintage at different properties to allow for ideal ripening to be achieved when necessary. The lagares have been giving balanced Baumés and exceptional colour and the Touriga Franca may well be the best wine of the vintage. The wines have wonderful freshness and elegance as well as structure.”

 
Charles Symington,
Pinhão, 10.10.16
 

"Port as Tourist Magnet" - Jancis Robinson

Leading wine journalist Jancis Robinson wrote about the recent upturn in tourism in both Porto and the Douro region last week in the Financial Times.

You can read a version of the article (free to access) on her blog, jancisrobinson.com.


Symington Master Cooper Honoured by the City of Vila Nova de Gaia

The Lord Mayor of Vila Nova de Gaia awarded the Symington Master Cooper Senhor Emílio Oliveira the city’s Medal of Honour on June 28th 2016. Hitherto such public recognition has gone to people in business, public service, arts and sports. This was the first time that the city has honoured a person involved in the manual crafts historically associated with Port, a trade that has existed in Vila Nova de Gaia since the 17th century.
 
Emílio Oliveira has been head of the Symington family cooperage for 30 years and is a worthy representative of a tradition which has for centuries played a vital role in the ageing of great Port. This craft is highly relevant today for the finest quality Ports and whilst most of the producers have closed their cooperages, the Symington family maintain theirs with a complement of seven coopers, all of whom have benefitted from Sr. Emílio’s unmatched experience.
 
The Lord Mayor, Eduardo Vítor Rodrigues, warmly welcomed the initial proposal made by Symington Family Estates that the city should honour those involved in the traditional crafts related to Port.
 
Sr. Emílio has many friends and colleagues at Symington Family Estates and they are all proud and delighted that he is the first cooper to be honoured in this way.
 

PEREGRINE FALCON RETURNED TO THE WILD AT QUINTA DOS CANAIS

On a sunny morning this week a young peregrine falcon, nursed back to health by the Wildlife Rescue Centre of the University at Vila Real, was returned to the wild at Quinta dos Canais in the Douro. Canais is one of the Symington family’s remotest vineyards and is home to a rich variety of wildlife and was therefore a natural choice for the falcon’s release.

Injured during its first migratory flight from the British Isles to southern Europe in December 2015, the young falcon was treated at the University’s Veterinary Hospital, and over the last 7 months it has made a full recovery. Originally marked by the West Cornwall Ringing Group in the UK in November 2015, the bird’s provenance was clear.

The Symington family have supported the University’s Wildlife Rescue Centre since 2011 and several species of birds of prey have been freed at different family vineyards in the Douro over recent years.  Conditions for the release at Quinta dos Canais were perfect, the high temperatures (30ºC) generating the thermals that help birds gain altitude rapidly. Just before it took to the freedom of the skies the falcon was aptly named ‘Canais’.

Quinta dos Canais, June 22nd 2016


GRAHAM’S QUINTA DOS MALVEDOS 2004 VINTAGE PORT
AWARDED A TROPHY TWO YEARS RUNNING AT THE
INTERNATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE

In its 33rd year, the International Wine Challenge, widely recognised as one of the world's finest and most meticulously judged wine competitions, has awarded the Graham’s 2004 Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port a TROPHY for the second year running.

The international expert panel of judges assesses every wine blind and judges each “for its faithfulness to style, region and vintage.” Throughout the rigorous judging processes, each medal-winning wine is tasted on three separate occasions by at least 10 different judges. To win one of the coveted TROPHIES, gold medal winning wines from each category progress to a second round where the judges will select just one wine, which is then emerges as the holder of the TROPHY.

This was yet another very successful year for Graham’s, clinching a total of four gold medals; besides the 2004 Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port, the Graham’s 1983 Vintage Port, the 40 Year Old Tawny and the 1972 Single Harvest Tawny also won gold.

 


A PORT TO CELEBRATE THE QUEEN’S 90TH BIRTHDAY GRAHAM’S 90 VERY OLD TAWNY PORT

On Wednesday, March 30th 2016, four members of the Symington family, together with their friends at Berrys, launched Graham’s 90 Very Old Tawny Port, a limited edition of 500 bottles to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s forthcoming 90th birthday. Paul, Johnny, Rupert and Charlotte Symington presented the special commemorative Port to a group of leading UK wine writers and journalists, as well as two of Portugal’s key wine writers. The Portuguese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, João de Vallera, was also invited. The unveiling was hosted by Berry Brothers & Rudd at their historic St. James’s Street premises in London.

Paul guided the guests through a fascinating journey back in time, tasting the venerable old cask-matured wines which make up the Graham’s 90. He took with him from Portugal the original vintage records for those years, written in the hand of his great grandfather Andrew James Symington. Paul read the entry for the 1935 harvest, in which one of the component wines for the Graham’s 90 was made. ‘AJS’ describes the quality of the year and alludes to the reigning monarch of the day, King George V (the Queen’s grandfather): “I am inclined to think that the quality and good colour inspires hope that the 1935 may prove good enough to make a Jubilee Vintage – quantity is less than last year - but quality appears to be better.”

Johnny went on to explain that Port has long been used to toast royal and historic occasions by every conceivable British institution for centuries and this seemed an entirely appropriate association. The challenge was to create something very special to pay a fitting tribute to the Queen’s dedicated lifetime of service to the nation. Perhaps nobody more than the Queen has been of such importance for Port’s standing worldwide; the fact that Port has been served at every state occasion at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle during her long reign has helped to project Port as one the world’s premier classic wines.

This rare Port became available in the UK exclusively through Berry Bros. & Rudd as of March 30th 2016 and is priced at £700 per bottle. For each bottle sold, a Graham’s will make a contribution to the Patron’s Fund, which supports a collection of UK and Commonwealth charities of which Her Majesty is the patron. Within the first 24 hours of the presentation, 108 bottles had already been sold. A very restricted number of bottles will be available for sale in Portugal, some of which at the Graham’s 1890 Lodge.

 

 


OPEL LAUNCHES NEW CAR MODEL AT QUINTA DO BOMFIM


Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann At Quinta do Bomfim

German carmaker, Opel, chose Quinta do Bomfim as the venue for the international presentation of its new Astra Sports Tourer model, Car of The Year 2016. From March 10th to March 24th over 700 journalists from all over the world will be at Quinta do Bomfim from where they will drive Opel’s new model along the Douro’s beautiful mountain roads.

 
Opel CEO, Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann was at Quinta do Bomfim on March 14th to personally welcome German auto journalists. Herr Neumann was delighted with the beauty of Quinta do Bomfim and the surrounding scenery and thanked Symington Family Estates for the welcome and hospitality extended by the Quinta’s staff. As he enjoyed the cloudless sunny day on the balcony of the Quinta’s Vintage Room he commented that the Douro’s vineyards reminded him of the Mosel wine region of his homeland. Opel’s Rüsselsheim HQ and principal plant, where the company first started making cars in 1899, is just over an hour’s drive from the heart of this famous wine region known for its fine Rieslings. Herr Neumann was keen to know more about the Douro’s wines and was interested to learn the different winemaking processes involved in the production of Port and Douro DOC wines.

GRAHAM’S VOTED THE WORLD’S MOST ADMIRED PORT BRAND

The Drinks International magazine has conducted its 6th annual survey of the World’s 50 Most Admired Wine Brands. The jury consists of over 200 leading figures in the wine sector, masters of wine, sommeliers and journalists. 

The 2016 survey has nominated Graham’s as the World’s Most Admired Port Brand and the 14th Most Admired Wine Brand in the world.

Dow’s Port, also owned and managed by the Symington family, was placed 31 in the World’s 50 Most Admired Wine Brands. 

Other wines in the World’s 50 Most Admired Port Brand include Vega Sicilia, Penfolds, Château d’Yquem, Château Margaux, Guigal, Château Latour, Cloudy Bay, Mateus and Cheval Blanc.

The Symington family said; ‘We are very proud to have earned this prominent position amongst the best wines in the world. This wonderful endorsement is the result of generations of work in our Douro vineyards and in our caves in Vila Nova de Gaia, as well as to the loyalty and the great skill of the people who work with us in our project of excellence.’


AMBULANCE DONATION TO THE VILA FLOR FIRE SERVICE

On Saturday, February 13th, Symington Family Estates presented a new ambulance to the Vila Flor Volunteer Fire Brigade in recognition of the vital services they offer to the local community in this rural area of the Upper Douro Valley. Since 2007 this is the ninth ambulance donated by the Symington family to fire services in the Douro region.

The family employ close to 500 people, 40% of whom live and work in the Douro. In the vicinity of Vila Flor, the family owns Quinta do Ataide, which has the largest area of vineyard under organic viticulture in Portugal (80 hectares) and, besides wine, also produces organic olive oil.
With this donation, the Symington family have presented a total of nine ambulances to as many fire brigades in the region over the last decade: Pinhão (2007), 
São João da Pesqueira (2009), Provesende (2010), Carrazeda de Ansiães (2011), Lamego (2012), Régua (2013), Vila Nova de Foz-Côa (2014), Tabuaço (2015) and now, Vila Flor.

Photo credits: Jornal de Notícias 


SYMINGTON WINES RECEIVE AWARDS IN THE ‘BEST OF THE YEAR 2015’ FROM REVISTA DE VINHOS (PORTUGAL)

On Friday February 12th, in the annual ‘Revista de Vinhos’ (Portugal’s leading wine publication) gala ceremony, ‘The Best of The Year 2015’, Symington Family Estates received the following awards:
Excellence Awards: 2 (from a total of just 30 awarded to all Portuguese wines)

  • Chryseia 2013 Douro Red - “One of the great red wines of the Douro…a name that has in the last few years attained widespread recognition”.
  • Graham’s 1972 Single Harvest Port - “This 1972 [single harvest] is absolutely unmissable and is a fine example of Symington expertise in this Port category.”

The Finest of The Year: 4 (192 awarded)

  • Dow’s Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira 2013 Vintage Port
  • Quinta do Vesúvio 2013 Vintage Port
  • Quinta do Vesúvio 2012 Douro Red
  • Warre’s 2003 Late Bottled Vintage Port

Good buys – excelent value

  • Altano Quinta do Ataíde 2011 Reserva Douro
  • Altano Quinta do Ataíde 2013 Organic Douro
  • Altano 2013 Douro Red
  • Altano 2014 Douro White
  • Cockburn’s 2009 LBV Port
  • Cockburn’s 10 Years Port
  • Dow’s 2009 LBV Port
  • Graham’s 2009 LBV Port
  • Graham’s 10 Years Port
  • Warre’s Otima 10 Years Port
  • Warre’s 2009 LBV Port

It is very rewarding to have, once again side by side, a Port and a Douro wine produced by the company recognised with awards of this calibre. Each year, just 30 ‘Excellence Awards’ are presented to the whole Portuguese wine trade. Also worthy of note is the fact that the entire Altano DOC Douro range obtained ‘Good buy’ seals.


CHARLES SYMINGTON NAMED WINEMAKER OF THE YEAR IN PORTUGAL

Symington Family Estates is proud to announce that Charles Symington was made ‘Winemaker of The Year’ by the highly respected Portuguese wine magazine, Wine - Essencia do Vinho on Friday 29th January 2016.

Charles was chosen amongst nominees from several Portuguese wine regions and when announcing the winner, Wine referred to him as “One of the most brilliant winemakers of this generation.”

This accolade is testament to Charles’s work over two decades, which have seen the family build on the strong legacy bequeathed by its ancestors. Charles joined the company in 1995 and went on to succeed his father, Peter, as taster and winemaker for the family’s Port Houses, as well as being the head winemaker for the family’s Douro DOC wines which are increasingly earning recognition around the world.


WINE SPECTATOR 2014 WINE OF THE YEAR - WINE SPECTATOR TOP 100 OF 2014: TWO WINES MADE BY THE FAMILY ARE RANKED Nº1 AND Nº3

  • Dow’s 2011 Vintage Port the Nº 1 Wine of The Year
  • Chryseia 2011 Douro DOC: Nº 3 Wine of The Year

This is a landmark achievement for the Symington family, for the Douro and for Portugal. Particularly remarkable is the fact that two wines made by the same family in the same region (one fortified, one still) were ranked in the first three places.


REVISTA DE VINHOS 2014 WINE PRODUCER OF THE YEAR (FORTIFIED WINES)

On announcing this coveted accolade, Revista de Vinhos, Portugal’s leading wine publication, highlighted the company’s premium Ports, which “ shone brilliantly and intensely throughout 2014.”

They gave as examples the Graham’s Ne Oublie (a Symington family heirloom), and the Quinta do Vesuvio and Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira 2012 Vintage Ports. Revista de Vinhos stated though that the icing on the cake was the announcement in November by the influential US Wine Spectator that Dow’s 2011 Vintage Port was its Wine of The Year, ranked Nº1 in its annual TOP 100 listing which has global resonance. Chryseia, the Douro DOC red made by the Symingtons with the Prats family was ranked 3 rd.

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