In 1882, when Andrew James Symington first traveled from Scotland to Porto, the second largest metropolis in Portugal, it might not solely grow to be a brand new adventurous chapter in his life however it might be the start of the legacy of one of many best Port wine households in Portugal. Andrew initially joined the Port home Graham’s which was owned by a Scottish household earlier than going off on his personal. It might be a lesson in perseverance as a result of though candy fortified Port wines would have bouts of utmost recognition with the British, as England had on and off financial wars with the French – their essential provider of wine, the steep slopes of the Douro Valley in northern Portugal, the place the vineyards for Port are positioned, have been treacherous to work in addition to treacherous to journey to and from as there was no infrastructure constructed and so getting the barrels of wine to the principle port cities reminiscent of Porto, so that they could possibly be shipped to England, grew to become a momentous achievement every time the barrels made it unscathed.
It speaks to the adventurous spirit of Andrew that he stayed and by chance for the world of Port that outstanding attribute was handed on to 4 future generations of Symingtons that might not solely carry-on his legacy however broaden upon it to provide a few of the most wanted fortified Port wines, in addition to glorious non-fortified crimson wines from the Douro Valley.
Andrew James Symington ultimately purchased the Port home Warre’s; the subsequent technology of Symingtons acquired Dow’s after which the subsequent purchased Graham’s and eventually the present technology in cost acquired Cockburn’s and so every technology has helped so as to add to what’s thought of at the moment a Port household dynasty the place one out of three bottles of “actually good Port bought worldwide” belongs to the Symington household, in response to the present CEO of Symington Family Estates, Rupert Symington.
A part of the Symington portfolio contains the cherished estates of Quinta do Vesúvio and Quinta de Roriz with the previous nonetheless utilizing the centuries-old methodology of treading the grapes in granite stone tanks referred to as lagares and the latter purchased in partnership with Bruno Prats, former proprietor of the legendary Château Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux. These estates should not solely revered for his or her Port wine however for his or her excellent non-fortified crimson wines in addition to every of those estates specific a particular sense of place and a large number of complexity which has helped construct the fame of the Douro as an excellent crimson winemaking area.
Quinta do Vesúvio and Quinta de Roriz
The Douro Valley has come a good distance for the reason that Symington’s legacy was first established as roads have been constructed and dams have been constructed which allowed rather more exercise on the river with reference to getting wine barrels to port cities as beforehand solely the rabelo flat-bottomed boats have been in a position to deal with the shallow waters of the Higher Douro. However Rupert Symington remembers his father James speaking about making Port as latest because the Nineteen Sixties and even at the moment the distant farms within the Douro didn’t have electrical energy because the locations exterior the principle cities solely simply obtained electrical energy within the Seventies and so the Symington Port wines have been made through the use of candlelight and gaslight in addition to all of the wines having their grapes crushed by an outdated conventional follow of locals stepping on the grapes in sync with music whereas it fermented into wine; the foot trodden follow for probably the most half is not practiced with an exception of some particular bottlings of Port or at a few wineries reminiscent of Quinta do Vesúvio. However as time has gone on extra fashionable gear has made it doable to boost the general high quality in addition to make high quality non-fortified crimson wines doable that was additionally assisted by understanding the native grape varieties and numerous sorts of soils, elements and micro-climates of the varied vineyards within the Douro. But the painstaking technique of constructing and sustaining dry stone wall terraces carved into the foothills of the mountain ranges are nonetheless an important and expensive a part of grape rising within the Douro Valley.
Rupert’s cousin Charles Symington, who’s head winemaker at Symington Household Estates, argued that they’ve the “most costly grapes on the earth” to develop contemplating the extremes of temperatures, which might go from freezing in winter to 100 levels Fahrenheit in summer season, low rainfall, low yields and great amount of guide work, as it’s almost unattainable to mechanize any side of their vineyards, all add as much as an enormous overhead only for the viticulture work alone. The Symington household has even gone so far as utilizing drones that carry infrared thermal cameras that may assess the vigor of their vineyards which helps them to enhance the best way they plant their vines, as there are a number of native crimson varieties that change of their choice in altitude and course as west, north and east dealing with vines will be achieved within the curved terraced vineyards of the Douro, and it might probably additionally inform them of when plots will ripen. Though most of the totally different grape varieties play an necessary position there are not any two extra necessary varieties within the Douro, in response to Charles, than Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca and he additional famous that the Quinta do Vesúvio and Quinta de Roriz property wines superbly illustrated how effectively these two varieties complemented one another.
Touriga Nacional has good freshness, acidity and construction with spicy notes; alternatively, Touriga Franca doesn’t have as a lot acidity but has softer tannins and a beautiful floral observe. Merely put, “Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca are the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot of the Douro,” defined Charles.
Quinta do Vesúvio and Quinta de Roriz blends rely closely on these two varieties however curiously, these estates are positioned in two totally different sub-regions of the Douro Valley. The Douro has three sub-regions however two of them are finest identified for high quality wine: Cima Corgo and Douro Superior. The Quinta de Roriz property is positioned in a sub-region of Cima Corgo, within the central space of the Douro Valley, the place most premium Port originates throughout the basic schist soils but within the Roriz property there’s a presence of tin and gold tailings from the outdated mines that give a “distinctive minerality”. The Quinta do Vesúvio property is positioned within the Douro Superior sub-region, which is probably the most japanese space that truly shares a border with Spain and it additionally has porous schist soils over granite bedrock but it’s the driest and hottest of the sub-regions and though proximity to the Douro River, plantings at excessive altitudes and orientation of the vines helps to convey steadiness to the grapes, Vesúvio will many instances show extra energy in its wines.
Coronary heart Belongs to Adopted Residence
These two estates are valuable to the Symington household as they actually signify their evolution from retailers to wine producers to lastly winery growers in addition to their generational dedication to the Douro Valley that features investing in two historic estates that would have fallen by the wayside and been misplaced endlessly. The Symington household and their wine companies within the Douro Valley have survived the Nice Melancholy, two World Wars and an extended stretch of financial and political instability in Portugal, and though at some moments in time it was as if they may barely maintain their heads above water whereas holding these nice Port homes over their heads figuratively, they made the sacrifices they needed to make because the Douro is of their blood and it is important that they maintain the gorgeous elements of the Douro Valley alive whereas constructing a greater future for everybody, whether or not be it their very own household or the households of their employees, which is famous by their licensed B Corporation standing that commits to such intentions.
And the challenges of Covid have definitely thrown a large amount of uncertainty that has had intense ups and downs and no actual finish in sight however the Symington household appears to be made for such instances as Rupert spoke about how tough the instances have been after World Struggle II and that his household needed to dump property simply to remain afloat. Throughout that point, his grandfather didn’t take a wage for a few years however they made it by way of and stored their roles as guardians of those vineyards – a few of the most fiercely difficult vineyards on the earth. However one of the crucial gripping challenges for Rupert specifically has been the lack of his father final yr but it solely reinforces the significance to search out methods to climate by way of this storm as he wants to take action for the subsequent technology like his father did for him, particularly contemplating his son Hugh simply joined the household enterprise a number of years in the past.
The hardships over these a number of a long time have been balanced by the big quantity of fantastic recollections made as regardless of most of the Symingtons receiving their formal training in England, their hearts are within the Douro the place their children spend time with their grandparents throughout the summers and the place there’s a sense of group that’s intrinsically a part of their household; lots of them admitting that though they really feel privileged to be given the quite a few alternatives to journey around the globe, there’s nothing prefer it once they can spend vital time within the vineyards and the cellars of the Douro Valley… that’s residence. A house the place they’ve been part of protecting a lifestyle, traditions and a viable financial system going for over 100 years and hopefully for a lot of extra a long time to come back.
The next are Port fortified wines from the 2007 classic which was thought of one of many coolest in latest historical past in response to Rupert and Charles Symington.
2007 Quinta de Roriz, Classic Port, Douro Valley, Portugal: Vibrant crimson fruit with candy tobacco leaf and spice cake intermixed with recent mint and candied cherry on the palate that completed with cigar and gravelly notes.
2007 Quinta do Vesúvio, Classic Port, Douro Valley, Portugal: Extra wild herbs, forest flooring on the nostril and candy fruit flavors on the palate with flavors of black forest cake lifted by eucalyptus notes.
Non-fortified premium crimson wines sourced from the above estates:
2017 Prats & Symington ‘Chryseia’, Douro Valley, Portugal: This wine is a mix of 75% Touriga Nacional and 25% Touriga Franca from the Quinta de Roriz and Quinta da Perdiz estates that are each positioned within the central Cima Corgo sub-region. A touch of that mint character alludes to that very same high quality discovered within the 2007 Port with dried flowers within the background and fleshy crimson fruit with spherical tannins that finishes with a smoky minerality – elegant and recent.
2017 Symington Household Estates, Quinta do Vesúvio Tinto, Douro Valley, Portugal: 56% Touriga Franca , 41% of Touriga Nacional and three% of Tinta Amarela. That is an property crimson that comes solely from the Quinta do Vesúvio property within the Douro Superior sub-region. Darker fruit proper off the bat with black cherry preserves and a denser, deeper physique with a number of focus and a strong construction that had hints of crushed rocks and lilacs on the end.
The beneath wines are second wines to the above bottlings and they’re actual bargains retailing round $30 in comparison with the above wines which common round $90.
2018 Prats & Symington, ‘Publish Scriptum de Chryseia’, Douro Valley, Portugal: 58% Touriga Nacional, 39% Touriga Franca and three% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo). A second collection of the Chryseia bottling. A lot finesse and magnificence with this wine and fairly spectacular contemplating the value; savory spice with cumin and earthy chili peppers that had hints of extra uplifting anise seed notes with vivid crimson cherries and hints of gravel undertones that had finely laced tannins.
2018 Symington Household Estates, Pombal do Vesúvio, Douro Valley, Portugal: 58% Touriga Nacional, 39% Touriga Franca and three% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo). That is the second wine of the Quinta do Vesúvio property. This can be a a lot greater wine but the silky tannins give a comfortable texture that’s instantly pleasing with lush cassis and licorice flavors with a number of upfront fruit balanced by grounded notes reminiscent of wild mushrooms that then elevate on the end with hints of cloves and black pepper.