Cockburn's are pleased to announce the reopening of their 19th century Port cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia following a major refurbishment.
The Cockburn’s cellars are the largest in the old quarter of the city, holding 6,518 seasoned oak barrels of maturing Port, plus the equivalent of a further 10,056 barrels in oak vats. This priceless stock is essential for the creation of great wines, especially the company's famous Special Reserve.
A new museum holds a collection of 19th century watercolours by Baron Forrester, along with extracts from the unpublished 1930s diaries of another of Port's legendary figures, John Smithes. As well as being a brilliant taster, Smithes was an early pioneer in the research of Douro grape varieties.
Visitors will see the company's coopers at work repairing barrels, using the same tools and crafts that their ancestors have used for centuries. The Symington family, owners of Cockburn's, have the only fully equipped cooperage in operation in Vila Nova de Gaia. At the entrance to the cooperage is a magnificent Robey steam engine, original manufactured in Lincoln, England in 1921 and used for the making of barrels until 1996.
The increasing pressure from major tourist projects in Vila Nova de Gaia is resulting in fewer cellars continuing the traditional ageing of Port in the historic quarter of the city. The newly renovated Cockburn's cellars with its large and valuable stocks, maintains the time-honoured and irreplaceable art of slowly maturing Port in seasoned oak.
Paul Symington said ‘The opening of these cellars is an important step in the revival of this great Port house after decades of multi-national ownership. My family continues to invest in Cockburn’s and now visitors can come and see our work at first hand.’
Pre-reservation is required as all visits are guided and can be made online, here: www.cockburns.com/visit-us
Prices start at €12.00 per person.
Symington Family Estates’ wines are once again placed highly in three of the worlds’ most prestigious wine competitions, the International Wine Challenge, the International Wine and Spirits Competition, and the Decanter World Wine Awards.
For the third consecutive year, Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos 2004 Vintage Port won a gold medal in the International Wine Challenge, and was this year accompanied by Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha 2004 Vintage Port, which also received gold.
In the International Wine and Spirits Competition, Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha 2004 Vintage Port and Warre’s 2004 Bottled Matured LBV were also awarded with
a gold medals.
Very positive results also came from the Decanter World Wine Awards in which Warre’s 2004 Bottled Matured LBV also achieved gold medal status alongside that gained at the IWSC, Graham’s Six Grapes, and Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny was also awarded gold medals.
A special mention must also go to Cockburn’ Special Reserve, which won its fourteenth silver medal in these 3 competitions since 2010.
Quinta do Vesuvio & Dow\'s Senhora da Ribeira 2015 Vintage Ports declared
Produced at two of the Douro Superior's most remote vineyards, the Symington family is pleased to announce the release of the Quinta do Vesuvio 2015 and of the Dow's Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira 2015 Vintage Ports.
The cycle of the vine in the Douro Valley in 2015, between bud-break and veraison, was the hottest and driest of the last three decades, but abundant late autumn rain in 2014, and crucial spring rain, which was unusually more abundant in the Douro Superior than elsewhere in the Douro Valley, sustained the vines during this hot and dry period.
At Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira, the vintage began on the 8th of September, although the finest varieties, namely the Touriga Nacional from the east-facing Vinha Grande and the Touriga Franca from the south-facing Vinha da Pedreira, were only picked towards the end of the month in order to reap the benefit from the heaven-sent rain which fell on September 15th.
At Quinta do Vesuvio, Touriga Nacional from the Vinha Nova and Raposa vineyards began to be picked from the 21st of September, followed by Touriga Franca from the Vale da Teja vineyards, a week later.
Graham’s Declare Stone Terraces 2015 Vintage Port
The small 2.9-hectare Stone Terrace vineyard at Quinta dos Malvedos produced an extraordinary wine in 2015. The grapes were picked by hand on the 12th and 13th of September, a couple of days before substantial rain fell across the Douro Valley, and were then fermented in lagares in the estate’s own winery. Yields were incredibly low at just 0.82 kg per vine but several hours of treading over the following days delivered a magnificent wine with sublime floral aromas of violets.
The Stone Terrace vineyard at Malvedos is composed of three parcels in a narrow curving valley and all are immediately adjacent, one facing north, another due east and one due west. None faces south. In most of this vineyard there is just one row of vines on each terrace, and walls are between 1.6 and 3 meters high. The warm surface stones in the soil and the walls themselves play an important role in sustaining maturation through the night, while the balance achieved by the varying aspects is key to this rare wine.
Graham’s Stone Terraces Vintage Port is only bottled when this vineyard produces an incomparable wine deriving from its unique location and layout; predominantly a single row of vines on each traditional dry stone-walled terrace, and the quality does not necessarily follow the pattern of general Vintage Port declarations. The Symington family, owners of Graham’s, believe that the 2015 Stone Terraces will age superbly as a remarkable Vintage Port of extraordinary elegance and complexity.
The first ever Stone Terraces was the 2011 Vintage Port which received exceptional reviews from the international press; 97 points Wine Spectator, 18.5/20 Jancis Robinson and was called ‘a masterpiece’ by leading Portuguese commentator, Manuel Carvalho.
Symington Family Estates has been granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment from Her Majesty The Queen as Suppliers of Graham’s Port. The Symington family and all who work with them in the Douro vineyards and Gaia Lodges are pleased and proud that this honour has been given.
Johnny Symington said; “Our great grandfather Andrew James had the Royal Warrant from King George V for Dow’s Port, so it is with great pride that we now receive the Royal Warrant for our Graham’s Port. We feel that our ancestors would have been as pleased as we are with this historic honour, as with the fact that my generation has kept the family Port company united and successful well into the 21st century”.
Cockburn’s are pleased to announce the declaration of a 2015 Vintage Port. This is the second Cockburn’s Vintage Port made by the Symington family since they acquired the historic name in 2010, having bought the vineyards and cellars in 2006. In the 19th century and up until the 1950s Cockburn’s was the leading Vintage Port, fetching the highest prices at international wine auctions and on the lists of the leading wine merchants.
Since 2010, the Symingtons have striven to recover the Cockburn’s reputation. The family conducted two research tastings with international experts, one in Porto in September 2012 that tasted back to Cockburn’s 1896, and another in London in 2015 that reviewed most Vintages back to 1863. These extraordinary tastings were fundamental to discovering the style that had made Cockburn’s so valued and admired. Both events identified the Cockburn’s 1908 as one of the greatest Ports ever made, and the Douro Superior as the birthplace of its finest Ports.
Coupled with these tastings, the Symington family have made significant improvements to the Cockburn’s vineyards at Quinta dos Canais and Quinta do Vale Coelho, both located in the Douro Superior. The results were apparent in the Cockburn’s 2011 Vintage Port that achieved outstanding reviews; 97 points Wine Spectator, 18.5/20 Jancis Robinson, 97 points Wine Enthusiast, 98 points (the 2nd highest rated 2011) James Suckling, and the following comment by Neil Martin on eRobertParker; ‘Wonderful focus… harks back to those classics of yesteryear. Cockburn’s is back’.
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.
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 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.”
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.’
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
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)
The Finest of The Year: 4 (192 awarded)
Good buys – excelent value
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.
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.
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.
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.