Another Kind of Quality Control

Graham’s produces a wide range of ports, and ensuring consistently high quality across all our products is of course paramount.  For the wines which are unique to any given vintage, whether classic Vintage ports, single quinta Vintage bottlings, or Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) port, once the blend is agreed, it is re-tasted and double checked for quality when we prepare for a bottling run.  These wines are also tasted and checked for quality after bottling, at regular intervals.

But we also have another rather unique quality challenge when it comes to producing our “stock” non-vintage wines, such as Six Grapes or our tawny blends.  We have to ensure a consistency across bottlings despite the fact that every year the final wines will be blended from an ever-changing stock of component wines.

Assessments for quality and consistency often draw in the entire family as well as staff from the Sala da Prova (Tasting Room) and commercial teams.  This assessment is so critical, and requires such concentration, that Dominic took the photos for the blog himself, rather than introduce non-essential personnel to the room during this exercise.

Thursday they were assessing new lots of Six Grapes and also reviewing the Graham’s 2006 LBV again before bottling.  In each case the “new” wines are compared very carefully with previously bottled examples.  We must have perfect consistency not just of quality and style, but flavour and colour.  Ultimately, they should be able to taste blind and not discern any difference whatsoever between the wine from the previous bottling and the wine drawn from the sample cask.

From left to right, Euan Mackay (Sales Director), Charles Symington (Head Winemaker), Manuel Rocha (Sala da Prova), Rupert Symington, and Paul Symington in front, scrutinising the wine.  Dominic Symington is behind the camera and Henry Shotton, the Quinta dos Malvedos winemaker during harvest, is camera-shy and out of view.