Tag Archives: 1952

Graham’s Ports Leave Their Mark in Memorable Tasting


The Essência do Vinho, now in its tenth edition, is the principal wine event held annually in northern Portugal, and generates ever increasing interest not just from the trade — wine professionals, sommeliers and restaurateurs — but also from consumers (Portuguese and foreign) as well as journalists from Portugal and from farther afield. The organizers prepared a very comprehensive and interesting programme for the 2013 edition, featuring a number of tutored tastings, which revolve around varied themes, involving both Portuguese wines and wines from other countries. More than 20,000 visitors are expected over the four-day event (7th – 10th February).

Porto's old stock exchange, the venue for the 10th edition of "Essência do Vinho."
Porto’s old stock exchange, the venue for the 10th edition of “Essência do Vinho.”

The venue is the magnificent old Stock Exchange building in Porto (the Palácio da Bolsa) and under its covered, lofty courtyard, 350 wine producers are showing visitors over 3000 different wines. This has always proven one of the reasons for the event’s great popularity: the fact consumers, and wine enthusiasts generally, can discuss their favourite wines directly with the producers and winemakers themselves. The atmosphere is very relaxed and very rewarding for the scope it allows visitors in tasting wines from Portugal’s varied and rich wine heritage, ranging from the country’s great fortified wines (Port and Madeira) to the up-and-coming dry wines from the Douro, Alentejo and the Dão, as well as those from other less well known regions.

The covered courtyard where exhibitors show their wines.
The covered courtyard where exhibitors show their wines.

One of the themed tastings that has generated greatest interest over the last few days has been Symington Family Estates’s ‘Voyage in Time: 3 Centuries – 10 Wines’ — a tutored tasting hosted by Paul Symington on Saturday, February 9th. Indeed as soon as it was announced, it was almost immediately sold out and the organizers approached the family asking if it were possible to accommodate more people (from the original starting figure of 25). This isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, because when you’ve only got a few dozen bottles of the legendary Graham’s 1948 left in your private family cellar, it isn’t a mute point!  In the end, a few additional people were accommodated and they were very grateful that they managed a place because the tasting proved to be indeed memorable.

Manuel Rocha (left), fourth generation blender at Graham’s and Henry Shotton (our winemaker at Quinta dos Malvedos) comment the 1948 Graham’s they have just decanted

Of the 10 Ports tasted, Graham’s provided the main offering, showing 5 wines; the 1948, 1963 and 1970 Vintages, as well as the 1952 (‘Diamond Jubilee’) and 1935 Colheita, or Single Harvest Tawnies. Landmark Vintage Ports from the family’s three other Port marques (Cockburn, Dow and Warre) were also present and the tasting culminated on a very high note with the unprecedented opportunity of sampling a treasured family heirloom, a very old family reserve (cask-matured) Port dating from the late 19th century. The tasting was held in the ‘Arab Salon’ — an exquisitely decorated chamber of the old stock exchange well known as a venue for ceremonial events.

The tasting gets off to a start in the magnificent 'Arab Salon' of the stock exchange
The tasting gets off to a start in the magnificent ‘Arab Salon’ of the stock exchange

The first Graham’s wine shown was the 1970, heralded as one of the finest Vintage Ports of the second half of the twentieth century. Paul commented to the captive audience of tasters that, in his opinion, this is indeed one of the finest 3 or 4 Vintages of the last half-century. The 1970 holds a particular significance for Paul and his family as it was the first Graham’s Vintage made by them, shortly after acquiring the famous Port house. Paul’s father and his cousins, who made the wine, couldn’t have wished for a more auspicious start. One could say this Port is 43 years young, such is the evident capacity of this impressive wine to carry on developing still further (years? decades?). But if you are fortunate enough to have this gorgeous wine in your cellar, why wait any longer to enjoy it?? It is drinking magnificently well right now.

Paul Symington enthuses the virtues of the legendary Graham's 1948
Paul Symington enthuses the virtues of the legendary Graham’s 1948

The next wine sampled was the 1963, and once again one could be forgiven for heaping superlatives on this half-century old Port. As Paul pointed out — just how many of the world’s fine wines can reach 50 years of age and still show such balance, complexity, sheer completeness? The 1963 was a landmark Vintage; it marked a turnaround in Port’s fortunes following the post world war II era when sales of Port took a long time to recover.

Only two bottles of the 1948 were made available by the family for this tasting.
Only two bottles of the 1948 were made available by the family for this tasting.

The legendary Graham’s 1948 was next and it proved one of the several high points of the tasting. As Paul remarked, “this is a wine that commands respect and admiration”. The wine showed an ethereal quality, with hints of mint, cinnamon and nuances of coffee (a distinctive hallmark of the 1948). A superbly refined wine with ripple after ripple of flavours and sensations, culminating with an endless, persistent aftertaste. Recovering from flu, Paul told the audience that he was feeling much better for sampling all these superb wines — the very best medicine he could take for a speedy recovery! This is a wine that deserves to be enjoyed on its own, without any unnecessary distractions.

Following this majestic trio of Vintages, Paul guided the gathered tasters through the other great interpretation of the art of Port: the cask-matured wines. The exquisitely elegant and charming Graham’s 1952 Diamond Jubilee surprised the tasters with its vitality and freshness, belying its 60 years of age. The subtlety of the 1935 enchanted all those present, but the best was kept till last: the family reserve dating from the late 19th century. The concentration and complexity of this exceptional wine left everyone spellbound by its sheer intensity and presence. Layer upon layer of flavours teased the assembled palates, leaving everybody enchanted. The aftertaste will linger for a long time in the memory of those who were privileged to take part in this tasting.

To learn more about all the Vintage Ports shown at this tasting, read  the blog on The Vintage Port Site.

The trio of Graham's Vintage Ports tasted; they provided the tasters with a memorable experience.
The trio of Graham’s Vintage Ports tasted; they provided the tasters with a memorable experience.

Which Port Did Johnny Symington Enjoy This Christmas?

Johnny Symington at the launch of the Graham's 1952 Diamond Jubilee Port earlier this year
Johnny Symington at the launch of the Graham’s 1952 Diamond Jubilee Port earlier this year

Just before Christmas our Vintage Port Site blogger asked the Symingtons and colleagues around the office what Ports they would be enjoying with their holiday feasts.

We only heard from Johnny Symington the morning after Christmas, but wanted to share his story with you:

Sorry not to reply earlier, I only decided on Christmas eve.

Having had a Pre launch taster of the Graham’s 1952 at last years Christmas lunch (before it was the Graham’s 1952 Diamond Jubilee Port and before it was approved by the palace and served at the Sovereign Heads Lunch at Windsor Castle). I decided on Christmas Eve this year that I would finish the Diamond Jubilee year with the same wine and celebrate and reflect on the outstanding PR success  that this wine has had for Graham’s.

The Graham's 1952 Diamond Jubilee Port
The Graham’s 1952 Diamond Jubilee Port

So as I sipped and reflected at our Christmas Dinner this year the overwhelming thought was “no wonder it was such a success, the wine is so delicious and over delivers in every respect”.

As we go into 2013 this wine becomes a collectors’ item of great rarity and significance.

You can read more about which Ports we enjoyed during our holiday festivities on The Vintage Port Site blog.

How about you? What Ports have you enjoyed this holiday season, or are looking forward to in the coming week?  We would love to hear from you!

Berry Bros. & Rudd and Graham’s

For generations the Berrys, of London wine merchants Berry Bros. & Rudd, and the Symingtons have worked together to bring Graham’s Ports to England, the oldest and still one of the strongest markets for fine Port wines.  Every harvest season we enjoy hosting members of BBR’s team in the Douro so they can better understand the region and winemaking behind these superb Ports.

This year, as is customary, our guests stayed at Quinta dos Malvedos and Graham’s winemaker Henry Shotton showed them over the winery and then took them up into the vineyards.  With Malvedos as their base of operations Johnny Symington led the group on visits to Dow’s Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira, Quinta do Vesuvio and to Quinta de Roriz, where in collaboration with Bruno Prats we make our finest Douro DOC wines, Chryseia and Post-Scriptum, as well as a Vintage Port in extraordinary years.

The highlight of the visit, however, was a celebratory dinner at The Factory House hosted by Graham’s to thank Berry Bros. & Rudd as well as the SFE team who contributed in their respective ways to the outstanding success of the Graham’s 1952 Diamond Jubilee Port in the UK market.

Berry Brothers & Rudd and Graham’s celebratory evening at the Factory House

Left to right, back row:  Richard Girling, John E Fells & Sons; Johnny Symington, Joint Managing Director, SFE; Charles Newman, Sales and Services, BBR; Jonathan White, Direct & Interactive Marketing Manager, BBR; Euan Mackay, Sales Director, SFE; Miguel Potes, Communications Manager, SFE; Henri Sizaret, Vice President, Marketing, SFE; Left to right, front row:  Jackie Thurn-Valsassina, Event & Visits Manager, SFE; Vicky Williams – PR Manager, BBR; Irene Fernandes, Market Assistant (UK), SFE; Laura Atkinson – Fine Wine Private Account Manager, SFE; Anabela Mouta, PA to Johnny Symington & Vintage Port Management, SFE; Eliana Soares, Graham’s Marketing Manager, SFE; Corinne Graham – Cellar Plan and Wine Club Administrator

The evening at the Factory House began with cocktails, and Euan Mackay, Graham’s Sales Director, explained the history and significance of The Factory House as the home of the Port trade and Vintage Port.

Dinner naturally featured our Altano and Chryseia wines with the main courses before moving on to a spectacular succession of fine Ports.  The Graham’s 30 Year Old Tawny was served with a chocolate fondant with tangerine sorbet and mascarpone, perfect to enhance the complex flavours of this old Tawny.

As is traditional at the Factory House, the guests then moved through to the second dining room, the better to savour their after-dinner Ports away from any lingering aromas of food.

Johnny Symington raised a toast to Her Majesty the Queen of England and The President of Portugal, with a glass of the 1952 Diamond Jubilee Port.  He went on to make a brief speech thanking Berry Bros. & Rudd for the long association and friendship we have shared for generations, and the role BBR has played in establishing Vintage Port as one of the world’s greatest wines.  Johnny went on to thank all present from both Berry Bros. & Rudd and Graham’s for their various contributions to the success of the 1952 project in the UK.

Vicky Williams, Public Relations Manager for Berry Bros. & Rudd, responded with a toast to friendship.  The evening continued over a superb bottle of Graham’s Vintage Port 1970.

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The Spirit of Chartwell: From the Thames to the Douro

The Spirit of Chartwell, shortly after its arrival from the UK, moored alongside Oporto’s ‘Ribeira’ quarter. Photo courtesy of Adelaide Carneiro

On Friday, 14th of September, just a couple of days before the vintage started at Malvedos, the Spirit of Chartwell crossed the bar of the Douro after completing its sea voyage from Ramsgate in Kent. Readers will no doubt remember that this was the Royal barge in which the Queen and other members of the Royal Family sailed down the Thames for the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on June 3rd — the highlight of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The Portuguese entrepreneur, Mário Ferreira, whose thriving company, ‘Douro Azul’ operates river cruises along the Douro River, acquired the Spirit of Chartwell from its British owner, Philip Morrell. The latter was unable to obtain from the relevant authorities a license to operate the vessel on a tourist route along the Thames.

The Spirit of Chartwell, in its new home: Oporto, from where it will sail up the Douro River on regular cruises from March 2013.

In a shrewd move, Mário Ferreira contacted Philip Morrell, whom he has known for a long time and made an offer to purchase Spirit of Chartwell. His approach was well timed as it pre-empted other prospective buyers and the deal was swiftly sealed in June, just weeks after the royal pageant on the Thames. The Spirit of Chartwell will join Mário Ferreira’s growing fleet of river cruisers whose customers are drawn from all over the world, attracted by the magnificent scenery of the Douro and — of course — by its renowned wines.

Mário Ferreira (left) presents a bottle of Graham’s 1952 Diamond Jubilee Port to Oporto’s Mayor, Rui Rio, as Johnny Symington looks on.

The 64 metre Spirit of Chartwell, fitted with 14 luxury cabins and one royal suite, will operate exclusive luxury cruises on the Douro, whose theme will be centred very much around the valley’s fine wines, which the cruise programmes will showcase amidst the exceptional surroundings of the Quintas’ terraced vineyards. It is likely that Spirit of Chartwell will become the Douro Azul flagship vessel and given its royal associations it will undoubtedly attract a great deal of interest from travellers from around the world, keen to experience for themselves The Spirit of Chartwell’s regal comforts. According to local press reports, the vessel will begin regular cruises from March next year.

Graham’s 1952 Diamond Jubilee Colheita Port

On the evening of September 15th, Johnny Symington attended the inauguration party on board Spirit of Chartwell, which served to present the unique craft to local dignitaries and to other guests. Johnny has reached agreement with Mário Ferreira for Graham’s 1952 Diamond Jubilee Port to be served and sold to guests on board Spirit of Chartwell. This will mark an interesting and meaningful association between two participants of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. During the reception aboard Spirit of Chartwell, Mário Ferreira presented a bottle of Graham’s 1952 Diamond Jubilee Port to the Mayor of Oporto, Rui Rio.

Johnny Symington at The Queen’s Jubilee

Sunday 3 June marked one of the highlights of the public celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  Johnny Symington of Graham’s was there, on a balcony overlooking the river, along with over a million people lining the banks of the Thames to watch the barge carrying Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip pass by.

The Queen waves to Johnny Symington as he toasts her with a glass of Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny Port

Johnny Symington writes for the Graham’s Blog:

Today I and my family and friends watched the magnificent Royal Pageant on the Thames.  It was the most exceptional spectacle with over 1000 boats in the flotilla, the likes of which has not happened for 350 years and may never happen again.  And of course we all raised a glass of Grahams 1952 Diamond Jubilee to Her Majesty, as she sailed by and waved to us!

The second photo is of the Queen and Prince Philip sailing past a bottle of Grahams 1952 Diamond Jubilee Port on the Royal Barge on their way to join other members of the Royal Family aboard the Sprit of Chartwell by Chelsea Bridge.

The last photo shows myself holding up a bottle of Grahams 1952 Diamond Jubilee as the row barge Gloriana passes, rowed by a crew of 18 oarsmen including 4-time Olympic Gold Medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent and 5-time Olympic Gold Medallist Sir Steve Redgrave.  They were followed by a flotilla which included row boats, boats from the evacuation of Dunkirk, musical barges and more.

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Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny Launches in Lisbon

Martim Cabral will introduce the Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny on Jornal de Noite this weekend

Earlier this week Johnny Symington and Joaquim Augusto Cândido da Silva of Portfolio Vinhos (our Portuguese distribution subsidiary) were in Lisbon to launch the Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny which has been specially bottled this year to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

At the press launch Martim Cabral, News Editor of SIC Noticias, interviewed Johnny Symington about this special Port and the commemoration of the Queen’s Jubilee.  Watch the 20:00 Jornal da Noite (Evening News) show on SIC this weekend to learn more about this extraordinary wine, the story behind it, and the commemoration of the Queen’s Jubilee.

L to R: Mario Morais of Restaurant Eleven, Johnny Symington, Queen Elizabeth II looking over their shoulders, Chef Joaquim Koerper, and Joaquim Augusto Cândido da Silva of Portfolio Vinhos

In the evening, Johnny and Joaquim hosted a dinner for our top clients and distributors in Lisbon and southern Portugal at the elegant  Restaurant Eleven.  Set in the gardens in the Park Eduardo VII overlooking Lisbon and the Tagus River, Chef Joaquim Koerper’s Restaurant Eleven holds First Place among top Portuguese restaurants as rated by Revista Wine.  Once again, the group enjoyed the event, the Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny Port, and learning more of the story behind this outstanding wine.

A limited quantity of the 1952 Single Harvest Tawny is available from select retailers in Portugal.  If you need help locating this Port, please contact us through the comments below, or directly at blogadmin at grahams-port dot com (use the usual symbols, we just spell it out here to avoid spam).

Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny Launches in Porto

Yesterday marked the Portuguese launch of Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny, hosted by Johnny Symington and Joaquim Augusto Cândido da Silva of Portfolio Vinhos (our Portuguese distribution subsidiary) at the Factory House in Porto.

Customers representing some of the top wine shops in the north of Portugal were invited to a presentation, luncheon and tasting of this extraordinary Port which has been specially bottled this year to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  As the home of the British Association, a more than two century old club for English Port shippers in Porto, which hosted the Queen and Prince Philip in 1957 and other members of the British Royal Family as well as Portuguese heads of state over the years, the Factory House was a natural venue to celebrate the release.  Copies of the Times of London from the Coronation Day and the Queen’s visit to Porto, from the Factory House’s own library, were laid out for visitors to read.

Johnny Symington presenting Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny

Johnny spoke of how this wine is the result of unique and actually rather difficult circumstances:  during and after World War II many superb wines were made and simply held, like this one, rather than declared as Vintages or otherwise used up to make other styles of Port, while Port’s main markets – Europe and the UK – struggled to recover from the war and the austerity that followed for almost ten years afterwards.  Additionally, over the years our winemakers – three generations of Symingtons – recognised the quality of this wine as it was ageing and chose to hold back several pipes, rather than use it up in making our blended Tawnies.

Graham’s is honoured to have received the Palace’s approval to include the legend “To Commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” on the label of the 1952 Single Harvest Tawny.  No other 1952 wine has been honoured in this way.  It is a testament not just to the fact of its Vintage year and its outstanding quality, but to the long standing alliance and friendship between Portugal and England, which dates back to the Treaty of Windsor in 1386.  The choice of a Port wine for this recognition is wonderful for the attention it will draw to Port and the Douro, and indeed Portugal and Portuguese wines generally.

As is traditional at The Factory House, the group gathered in the Lunch Room for a meal which concluded with Graham’s Vintage 1994 served with Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sorbet and a selection of Serra da Estrela and Stilton Cheese.  After coffee, the group moved to the Dessert Room, where they were able to enjoy Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny Port without the distraction of any lingering scents of food.  The Port was served accompanied only by dried apricots and fresh walnuts to complement the complex flavour profile of the wine.

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A limited quantity of the 1952 Single Harvest Tawny is available from select retailers in Portugal – we already have confirmed outlets in Porto, Matosinhos, Coimbra, Espinho, Braga and elsewhere.  If you need help locating this Port, please contact us through the comments below, or directly at blogadmin at grahams-port dot com (use the usual symbols, we just spell it out here to avoid spam).

Graham’s Hosts The Worshipful Company of Distillers

Johnny Symington with Senhor Lapa and Nuno Moreira checking the wines for the Graham’s vertical tasting

Graham’s enjoys receiving and entertaining a wide variety of visitors throughout the year, and recently welcomed members of The Worshipful Company of Distillers to a tasting and luncheon at our offices in Vila Nova de Gaia.

This City of London Livery Company was founded in the 17th century and granted a monopoly and rights to control the distilling trade within 21 miles of London and Westminster.  It has enjoyed a long and colourful history, and continues to be active today supporting education and “conviviality” within the drinks trade, as well as raising funds to support a number of educational and benevolent charities.

Naturally entertaining fellow professionals is a wonderful challenge – as veterans of the drinks business our visitors know the fundamentals of how our Ports are made, and are certainly familiar with many of our wines from previous tasting events as well as their own personal cellars.

8 Vintage Ports for 30 people meticulously laid out and ready for our visitors

Johnny Symington and Henry Shotton decided to host a vertical tasting which would demonstrate the gradual change in flavour profile as Port ages in bottle.  They chose 8 Graham’s Vintage Ports, including 1970, 1977, 1980, 1994, 1997, Malvedos 1999, 2000 and 2007.  The set up of such a complex tasting for 30 people called for great organisation and attention to detail, with Senhor Lapa and Nuno Moreira of our Tasting Room helping Johnny and Henry set up the places, decant and serve the Ports.

The event was very relaxed, and everyone enjoyed the open discussion and exchange of stories and experiences over long careers in the wine and spirits trades.  Allan Cheesman, formerly the buyer for UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, particularly enjoyed the 1977, as that was the year of his first visit to Porto.  He later wrote to say, “Can’t recall doing such a vintage vertical like that and I’ve been around for a while!”  Another guest commented on having enjoyed the Quinta dos Malvedos 1950 many times over his career – much to Johnny’s envy, who has only tasted it once, and may never have another opportunity as the last bottles were served at our Quinta tastings in London and Lisbon last October.

Johnny Symington and Henry Shotton enjoyed hosting the tasting for The Worshipful Company of Distillers

The 1970 was particularly seductive, one of Henry Shotton’s favourites of the event, though he picked the 1994 and 2007 as also showing particularly well at this stage of their development.

Afterwards, the group enjoyed a glass of the Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny, which was recently released to commemorate the the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  They then went on to have lunch with Johnny, Paul and Rupert Symington at our offices and a tour of the Graham’s Lodge before heading up to the Douro for a few days, beginning with dinner at Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim with Dominic Symington.

A Good Week for a Good Year

João Vasconcelos and Johnny Symington at The Big Fortified Tasting with Graham’s 30 YO Tawny in the new bottling

Both Johnny and Paul Symington have been in London this week in conjunction with the launch of Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny, bottled this year to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which was released yesterday exclusively through Berry Brothers & Rudd.

On Wednesday Johnny, Paul and UK Market Manager João Vasconcelos were at The Big Fortified Tasting (BFT), a trade event now in its third very successful year, which focuses on showing the best of Port, Madeira and Sherry, as well as other fortified wines from around the world.  The trio showed visitors a range of Vintages and other bottle matured Ports from all the Symington brands, as well as showing the new range of Graham’s aged Tawnies in the impressive new bottles.  Johnny says the Tawnies, particularly, “were exceptionally well received by all who attended.   We also presented the Graham’s Diamond Jubilee 1952 which received unprecedented comment and interest.”

Indeed – there was much Twittering about the 1952 during the BFT, and some of the top UK wine writers have already featured this Single Harvest Tawny in their websites, including Jamie Goode’s Wine Anorak, Sarah Ahmed’s Wine DetectiveTom Cannavan’s Wine Pages and Jancis Robinson’s website.

Johnny Symington and Richard Mayson (centre) looking forward to the hard work of tasting Vintage Ports blind with members of The Port Forum

Many of our readers will no doubt be familiar with The Port Forum, a UK based on-line chat forum for lovers of Port.  The group meet regularly to enjoy blind tastings of Ports contributed from their own cellars, and Wednesday night Johnny joined them, along with wine writer and Port specialist Richard Mayson, contributing a bottle of the Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny to the evening’s delights.  “It showed absolutely magnificently much to the delight of all present” in Johnny’s words.

Have you had a chance to taste the 1952?  We would love to hear from you either here or on Facebook with your impressions of this sumptuous wine, and how you will be celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee with Graham’s.

Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny Port

Graham’s is very pleased to announce the release of the Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny Port in a special limited edition bottling to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Whereas most Tawny Ports offered for sale are blends of an average age as indicated on the bottle – 10, 20, 30 or 40 Year Old – a Single Harvest Tawny is Port wine from a single vintage aged in small oak casks.  Our winemakers taste and assess the quality of these wines at least annually, and over the years they are used as components of progressively older blends of tawny port.  Very rarely a few of these casks show such quality that we hold back and allow it to age, unblended.  And even more rarely, we decide it is so extraordinary that it ought not to be blended at all, but bottled as a Single Harvest Tawny Port, also known as a Colheita.

In the case of the 1952, three generations of Symington wine makers have had the foresight and wisdom to hold back a few pipes of this wine and allow it to continue maturing in cask.  In fact, this Tawny is still showing such freshness that it could continue to mature in cask if we wished.

The five Symington cousins currently active in the company have the responsibility of tasting the older wines remaining in our cellars on an annual basis, and it was in one of these tastings last autumn that this tawny port from 1952 stood out.  Not only did Charles, Dominic, Johnny, Paul and Rupert agree on the magnificent quality of this lot, but Johnny served the 1952 at home at Christmas to further test-market the wine with the broader family.

The result was the decision to bottle the 1952 as a Single Harvest Tawny, and as 1952 was the year that Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne, we sought and are honoured to have received the Palace’s approval to offer the wine to the public “To Commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” as can be seen on the label.

Very naturally, we turned to London wine merchants Berry Brothers & Rudd, with whom we have worked for generations, to craft this special limited edition product for the Jubilee.  The first release of  Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny will be just 1,000 individually numbered bottles, available individually or in hand crafted oak gift cases of 3 bottles.  Additionally ten jeroboams (4.5 litre bottles) will be released.

Port has always been a uniquely Portuguese and English wine, and in recognition of this long standing alliance, Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny will initially be offered exclusively in England through Berry Brothers & Rudd, and in Portugal after 11 May through Graham’s Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia and Portfolio Vinhos.

This extraordinary wine has inspired an exquisite tasting note from Simon Field, Master of Wine and the Port Buyer at Berry Brothers & Rudd:

Striking mahogany, with hints of amber at its rim, the wine has an extraordinary aromatic intensity, redolent of old libraries, autumnal bonfires and distant poetry.  The palate is profound and majestic, astonishingly intense and powerful, regal in its complexity, a timeless elixir.  Notes of molasses, dried apricot, figs and clove, dance across the palate, elegant and symphonic in their structure, dignified and profound.  Orange zest freshness and finely-wrought tannins underwrite structural harmony with the long finish indulging a gentle nostalgia and a real sense of worth.

Whether you are celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee or your own special anniversary or landmark event, Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny will be an exceptional Port wine with which to mark the occasion.