In the spring of 2014, Symington established an experimental grape variety vineyard at Quinta do Ataíde in the remote Vilariça Valley, deep in the Douro Superior. The company planted 53 varieties of Vitis vinifera, made up of many almost forgotten indigenous varieties from the Douro as well as from other regions of Portugal, with a few well-known international vines to act as references. This vineyard will make a significant contribution to the understanding of these grape varieties, and will safeguard the Douro’s extraordinary vine diversity. Future vineyard plantings and their wines will undoubtedly benefit from this important project.
Determined by the number of varieties per 1,000 km2 Portugal has the greatest diversity of vines of any wine producing country in the world and in total has 250 indigenous varieties, many of which come from the Douro. This provides a great opportunity to use the extraordinary potential of these vines, and the Symington family have taken a leading role in this by establishing their Grape Variety Library at Quinta do Ataíde.
Two hundred vines of each variety have been planted in two contiguous vineyard parcels covering 2.25 hectares of relatively flat land. The uniformity of the terrain will remove many variables that could influence the research, and the large size of the plant population will enable Symington to undertake meaningful comparative studies. The family’s viticulture team have established research protocols with various universities, and the findings will be shared with other producers, thus benefiting the wines of the Douro in general.
This research project aims to safeguard the genetic diversity of the Douro’s grape varieties, whilst studying their viticultural and oenological potential. The Symington viticulture team will seek to identify varieties that might be suitable for planting in the Douro’s varied terroirs in the future and Charles and his team look forward to making new and exciting Ports and Douro DOC wines based on what they learn at Quinta do Ataíde in the coming years.
Quinta de Ataíde has a long association with pioneering developments in Douro viticulture. It was here that Miguel Corte-Real and Cockburn’s undertook their pioneering clonal selection of Touriga Nacional in the 1970s. Many of Portugal’s vineyards of this outstanding variety used cuttings from Quinta do Ataíde.
Alicante Bouschet • Alvarelhão • Alfrocheiro • Aragonez (aka Tinta Roriz) • Baga • Bastardo • Cabernet Sauvignon • Casculho • Castelão • Cornifesto • Donzelinho-Tinto • Malvasia Preta • Marufo • Moscatel Galego Roxo • Mourisco-de-Semente • Rufete • Syrah • Tinta Barroca • Tinta Caiada • Tinta Carvalha • Tinta da Barca • Tinta Francisca • Tinto Cão • Touriga Fêmea • Touriga Franca • Touriga Nacional • Trincadeira (aka Tinta Amarela) • Vinhão (aka Sousão) • Zinfandel
Alvarinho • Arinto • Avesso • Bical • Cerceal Branco • Chardonnay • Códega de Larinho • Donzelinho Branco • Dorinto • Encruzado • Fernão Pires • Folgasão • Gouveio • Loureiro • Malvasia Fina • Moscatel Galego Branco • Moscatel Graúdo • Rabigato • Sauvignon Blanc • Sercial • Semillon • Síria • Viosinho • Vital