Tag Archives: Dominic Symington

Quinta dos Malvedos Harvest Update – October 1st

A group of guests from our German distributor, 'Smart Wines', visited Malvedos on Tuesday afternoon. Here, in front of the winery, built in 1890.
A group of guests from our German distributor, ‘Smart Wines’, visited Malvedos on Tuesday afternoon, photographed in front of the winery, built in 1890. On the left our market manager for Germany, Gonçalo Brito and on the far right, Henry Shotton, Malvedos winemaker (and to his right: Dominic Symington).

Since the last report, posted late Friday evening, the common denominator of the last three days has been overcast skies and rain; 25.7mm at Malvedos from Friday through to Monday — that’s more precipitation in 4 days than was recorded for the months of June, July and August combined.

Henry Shotton’s day-by-day account:

Saturday, September 28th

Most of the rainfall referred to above began to come down during dinner time on Friday the 27th and continued into the night of the 28th.  The morning started with some scattered showers interspersed with bright patches up until lunchtime. Similar pattern during the afternoon — a few showers with bright sunny intervals. A plentiful 20.7 mm of rain came down between 9am Friday and 9am Saturday.

The weather has played a few tricks with us over the last few days; alternately overcast, rainy, bright spells, rain showers on and off. Here the road descending towards the Douro River near Malvedos and Tua.
The weather has played a few tricks on us over the last few days, alternating between overcast skies and bright spells, with quite a few rain showers on and off. This landscape illustrates those conditions (route descending towards Malvedos and Tua).

Today the pickers have gone back to Quinta do Tua to pick the Sousão. Should the yields prove too low to fill a lagar then it will be topped up with Touriga Nacional, also from Tua. Fewer pickers showed up today – 20 people in total as opposed to the normal 24-25, most likely put off by the abundant rain during the night. Tomorrow, Sunday, there are local government elections and we fear that some of the pickers won’t turn up and that we will therefore pick less and not be able to fill a lagar.

Sunday, September 29th

Walked towards the winery at 07:30 under cover of dark grey clouds, which in the event discharged a paltry 1.8mm during the whole day.

Predictably, only 11 people showed up this morning for picking because many of the team understandably decided to exercise their right to vote in the local government elections. The bottom line is we’ll pick less grapes today. Tomorrow the roga will move to Quinta do Síbio, the adjoining property, which was acquired last year and incorporated into Malvedos. Síbio is planted with ‘MC’ — Mistura de Castas (mixed varieties) — all planted in 1990, hence now a mature vineyard with 23 years. By the looks of things yields will be low.

The first tractor load of grapes arrive at the winery from Quinta do Síbio.
Juca and Carlos unload the first grapes arriving at the winery from Quinta do Síbio.

The lagar from Tua trodden last night (55% Touriga Nacional & 45% Sousão) gave an excellent 13.55º Baumé and displayed a deep purple colour. Today we are plunging the cap (immersing the skins of the grapes back into the must) of the now fermenting lagar of Sousão and Touriga Nacional grapes. This co-fermented lagar is showing a superb deep colour. 

Monday, September 30th

Malvedos, from the grape reception area, looking east towards Tua (background left).
Malvedos, from the grape reception area, looking east towards Tua (background left).

A distinctly warmer feel this morning, although still overcast. At least there was no need to wear a sweater. Today, Sr. Arlindo and his roga will be harvesting grapes exclusively from the Síbio blocks (mixed varieties). This evening we started treading the first lagar from Síbio, and despite the rain, the graduations were excellent at 14.25º Baumé.

Tuesday, October 1st

Another start to the day with low-lying, rain-laden clouds, which released showers on and off during the morning and afternoon. However, we have received very good news from Charles Symington who has been closely monitoring the weather and the forecast for the next few days is for an end to the rain and the return of clear blue skies. Fingers crossed! The roga is continuing to pick the Síbio grapes all day today.

The Spirit of Chartwell cruises along the Douro, just below Malvedos, Tuesday, October 1st.
The Spirit of Chartwell cruises along the Douro, just below Malvedos, Tuesday, October 1st.

Our daily routine was briefly interrupted at about noon as the ‘Spirit of Chartwell’ quietly cruised by downriver, probably on its way to Porto. Readers will remember that this was the royal barge that carried the Queen and other members of the Royal Family during the Royal Pageant on the Thames, one of the high points of last year’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. Spirit of Chartwell was acquired by a Portuguese river cruise operator and and it has now become a familiar sight, plying the waters of the Douro.

The Spirit of Chartwell, previously of the Thames, now a familiar sight along the Douro River.
The Spirit of Chartwell, previously of the Thames, now a familiar sight along the Douro River.

Dominic Symington and Gonçalo Brito (who helps Dominic in the German market, among others) arrived by boat with a party of 7 guests from our German distributor for Graham’s: “Smart Wine”, which is based in Cologne. Following lunch at the house, the group visited the winery.

Tonight we will start treading our second lagar made up entirely of mixed grapes harvested from Síbio.

A visual representation of the Douro weather of the last few days; damp and wet.
A visual representation of the Douro weather of the last few days: damp and wet.

Tracking the Season – August 30th

Quinta dos Malvedos: the house perched on the characteristic ridge.
Quinta dos Malvedos: the house perched on the characteristic ridge, with commanding views of the Douro River.

By 11 am on Friday morning, August 30th, the temperature had already reached 33ºC at Malvedos. Although we had abundant rainfall in the Douro over the first few months of the viticultural year (i.e. from November 2012 to April 2013), precipitation levels began to fall sharply from May. At Malvedos, just 3.5mm of rain was recorded during the whole month of June, 4mm during July and not a single drop in August, well below average for all three months.

A small birds nest, nestling among the vines at Tua; a testament to Graham's policy of sustainable viticulture.
A small bird’s nest, nestling among the vines at Tua; a testament to Graham’s policy of sustainable viticulture.

To further complicate matters, air temperatures since the summer solstice and over the last two months in particular, have been rising steadily, with Malvedos registering an average daytime temperature of 28ºC during the month of July and 27.7ºC during August, in both cases that is approximately 3ºC above the mean. Also significant were the maximum daytime temperatures recorded at Malvedos, a sweltering 42.3ºC (July) and 42.6ºC (August); for those readers who think in Fahrenheit ­— that’s 107 degrees…

The Portuguese Meteorological Office advised that the heat wave registered between the 3rd and 13th of July, which affected the whole of the country, but particularly its north-eastern corner (where the Cima Corgo and Douro Superior sub-regions are located), was the “most significant” (a euphemism for ‘severe’) observed since July of 1941 (July 2006 also came close).

Alexandre samples a Touriga Nacional berry at Quinta do Tua, August 30th
Alexandre samples a Touriga Nacional berry at Quinta do Tua, August 30th. He will do this almost daily to monitor the grapes’ final ripening stage leading up to the vintage.

Our vines have therefore been subjected to a double onslaught of hydric stress and thermal stress and they have had to ‘batten down the hatches’ to withstand these challenging conditions and thus far they have done this incredibly well. The accumulated water reserves (from the winter/spring rainfall) have made a real difference and our older vines (with more developed root systems that go deeper into the soil) have fared very well. Whereas the younger vines with their shorter roots, have struggled to tap into the moisture, which inevitably retreats lower down into the schist soil as the drought has depleted the water reserves.

Note how it is the lower layers of leaves that the vines sacrifice first, when subjected to hydric and thermal stress.
Note how it is the lower layers of leaves that the vines sacrifice first, when subjected to hydric and thermal stress.
Touriga Nacional grapes at Quinta do Tua: note the small size of both the bunch and the berries - a sure sign of quality.
Touriga Nacional grapes at Quinta do Tua: note the small size of both the bunch and the berries – a sure sign of quality.

As the Malvedos viticulturist, Alexandre Mariz pointed out, however, it is quite remarkable how well adapted these hardy vines are to their tough environment; the grape clusters and berries are looking well formed and healthy. The size of both the grape bunches and the berries is quite small, a telltale sign of quality (concentration as opposed to volume). Despite the difficulties, the vines at both Malvedos and Tua are looking very healthy, the only signs betraying the lack of rain and high temperatures being the parched brown vine leaves along the lower sections of the plants, with some of them already falling off the vines. This is one of the vines’ self-defence mechanisms when faced with such trying conditions; the vine sacrifices part of its leaves to lessen the pressure on the plant, which has less water to continue the maturation cycle. It is the lower leaves that are shed, partly because they are closest to the hot soil surface, which radiates heat back up towards the vine but also because the vine preserves the mid and top layers of leaves in order to provide the all important shade that the grape bunches require to shelter them from the fierce sunshine.

Despite the drought of the last three months, Quinta dos Malvedos displays verdant vegetation.
Despite the drought of the last three months, Quinta dos Malvedos displays verdant vegetation.

Stop press: on Thursday morning, September 5th, when this post was about to be published we awoke to a real surprise at Quinta dos Malvedos; during the middle of the night, a thunderstorm rolled in and delivered a bounty of rain: about 10mm, which came down steadily over around three hours, according to our caseiro (farm manager), Senhor Arlindo, who was woken up by the thunder and witnessed the downpour. Dominic Symington who was at Malvedos entertaining some Russian guests from our importer there, had a broad smile of contentment. He was later joined at the Quinta by Charles Symington, our head winemaker, and he too was all smiles. Charles is in no doubt that this welcome rain has made a real difference and that the final stretch of ripening has been given just the fillip we were praying for. We still do not have a firm starting date for the harvest but Charles says it will be later than usual (up to 10 days) and will probably start during the third week of September.

French Film Partially Filmed at Malvedos Premieres Today in Portugal


The French film, la Cage Dorée (The Gilded Cage), directed by the young Franco-Portuguese director, Ruben Alves and which has a cast of well-known Portuguese and French actors makes its premiere in Portugal today — August 1st. Filmed on location in Paris and at Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos in the Douro Valley, the film has been a box-office hit in France, having been seen by over one million cinema goers since it premiered there on April 24th. The producers of the film are hopeful that this success will be mirrored in Portugal.

Dominic Symington welcomes members of the cast and film director, Ruben Alves to the Museu do Douro.
Dominic Symington welcomes members of the cast and film director, Ruben Alves (centre) to the Museu do Douro.

The charming comedy revolves around the story of a young Portuguese couple who emigrate to France in the early 1970s in search of a better life. Several decades later, they inherit a Douro quinta and this is where Quinta dos Malvedos becomes, itself, one of the stars of the film. Following much exploration in the Douro early in 2012 in search of a suitable location to shoot the Portuguese scenes of the film, the director immediately fell in love with Malvedos (after visiting many other quintas) and was thrilled when the Symington family agreed to his request to film there. During a week in July 2012, Malvedos was a hive of activity as the cast of French and Portuguese actors played out their roles amidst one of the most spectacular settings in the Douro Valley.

Actress Rita Blanco and actor Joaquim de Almeida stake a claim on a large bottle of Six Grapes!
Actress Rita Blanco and actor Joaquim de Almeida stake a claim on a large bottle of Six Grapes!

Leading Portuguese actor, Joaquim de Almeida, who enjoys a successful career in Hollywood, and the popular actress, Rita Blanco, star in the roles of José and Maria (he a builder and she a concierge). They are supported by a varied cast of other Portuguese, as well as French and Franco-Portuguese actors such as Chantal Lauby, Jacqueline Corado and Barbara Cabrita.

Besides Malvedos, Graham’s is also represented in the film by one of its landmark wines — Six Grapes, the Port served by José and Maria when they entertain guests at their Parisian home.

Rita Blanco, in the role of Maria, pours her guest a glass of Graham's Six Grapes.
Rita Blanco, in the role of Maria, pours her guest a glass of Graham’s Six Grapes.

On July 22nd, the film producers organized a first screening in Portugal and naturally they chose a Douro venue in which to do so — the town of Lamego. To give them a fitting welcome on their return to the region, the Symington family organized a reception in the attractive surroundings of the Museu do Douro (the Port Wine Museum) in Régua during which a tutored tasting of Graham’s Ports was provided for the film cast, crew and all assembled guests. Besides Graham’s delicious Six Grapes, the superb Graham’s 2001 Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port was also much appreciated by all.

Jackie Dias, Graham's PR & Events Manager, with actor Joaquim de Almeida and film director, Ruben Alves.
Jackie Thurn-Valsassina, Graham’s PR & Events Manager, with actor Joaquim de Almeida and film director, Ruben Alves.

The Next Generation: Anthony Symington

What do you do during that interval between finishing university and landing a job?  If you are a Symington, and it’s September, you could go to work in a Douro winery.

Dominic’s son, Anthony, had already worked the 2007 harvest at Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos, so this year he asked to work with our Douro DOC winemaking.  He is spending the harvest season at the Prats + Symington winery at Quinta de Roriz where, in collaboration with Bruno Prats, we make the elegant Douro DOC wines Chryseia, Post Scriptum and Prazo de Roriz, as well as Vintage Port.

Anthony was keen to learn the winemaking techniques which of course are very different from Port making, and has found a wonderful teacher in Luis Coelho, the resident viticulturist and oenologist.  Luis has ensured that Anthony has worked at every task in the winery, and that he understands what he is doing and why and how it affects the finished wines.  They have tasted the wine lots together daily to monitor the fermentation and development of the wines, which has been a great learning experience too.

After studying languages and history (he speaks both Portuguese and Spanish) including 6 month placements in each Brasil and Spain, Anthony is very interested in the political and business environments in South America, and hopes to find work to suit these interests.  Like his cousins Harry and Tom, he would like eventually to work for the family firm if there is an opportunity and a place for him, but feels it is important to work outside first for some years.  He understands, as they do, that he will have to prove his business skills and have something to offer when and if there is an opening.

His grandfather Michael used to dip his finger in a glass of Port so Anthony and the other grandchildren could have just a taste when they were small, and as they grew older he would give them a sip from his own glass  – Michael was very keen for the children to learn about Port.  Later, when Anthony and Paul’s son Harry had a joint celebration of their 21st birthdays, they chose to have what he called “a very Douro meal” at Paul’s Quinta das Netas:  a soup (served with Altano Branco), roast pork, green beans and batatas a murro (bashed potatoes), served with an old Quinta de Roriz Reserva and for the Port they enjoyed Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha 1989 Vintage Port in honour of their birth year.

Many of Anthony’s friends are very keen on food and cooking, and he helps them with the wine pairing for their dishes.  With their passion for good food and wine, Port is a natural fit, but he does feel that Port needs to change its historically rather grand image to be marketed successfully to this younger generation.  He spoke of a memorable picnic meal in the Douro of rather light Moroccan or Greek dishes of chicken or lamb with couscous and a salad of rosemary, chicken and plum tomatoes, and how a very old, delicate and nuanced Vintage Port was the perfect conclusion to this eclectically flavoured meal.  An example, if ever there was one, of how to simply enjoy Port, as the pleasure it is, at any time, in any setting.  We like Anthony’s approach!

Malvedos Winemaker’s Update: Tuesday 18 September

Quinta dos Malvedos Adega Team 2012

The weather was cool at 07:30 when I opened the winery although as the morning wore on it was clear that we would have another warm and sunny day of ideal Vintage weather.

We managed to fit our winery team 2012 onto the scale this morning, totalling 748 kilos!  Dona Sonia is a very good cook, God knows what they will weigh by the end of it…

The 27 pickers today ran through the rest of the Tinta Barroca in the Eastern part of the Quinta, picking a total of 11,524 Kg and filled the second lagar of Barroca.  This is just over 400Kg per person and is again an indicator of the slightly lower yields we are experiencing this year, as last year pickers were averaging slightly over 500 Kg per day each when picking the Barroca.  As Charles has mentioned before, the grape bunches are generally smaller than normal, hence the lower weight for the same amount of work.  The grapes continue to arrive at the winery looking healthy, however, and the second lagar is looking promising.

Cap plunging the first lagar of Tinta Barroca

The first lagar of Barroca finished treading early this morning at 01:00 hours and gave an excellent 14.05º Baumé. This is just what we need to be able to give the lagares a lot of work during fermentation and produce structured full bodied Ports.  By lunchtime the fermentation had begun in earnest, the cap had risen and we were able to begin cap plunging in order to extract yet more colour and flavour.

Fortunately we had no more breakdowns and everything ran smoothly in the winery today.  Dominic brought a group of visitors in the morning including Hermann Stockmann of Smart Wines in Germany and some of his colleagues.  They arrived in style at the winery, Dominic having treated them to a tour of the vineyards in authentic Harvest style:  in the lorry we use for transporting our picking team.

Tour of the vineyards in authentic Harvest style: in the pickers’ lorry

Primum Familiae Vini in Burgundy

This past weekend Paul, Rupert and Dominic Symington were in Burgundy together with their colleagues from Primum Familiae Vini, a group of eleven of the most prestigious winemaking families in the world.

Every year the members come together to show their wines in a key market – this past February in London and in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil.  But in addition to the rather spectacular public events, including gala dinners, charity auctions and press tastings, the group also meet for private working weekends.  This weekend in Burgundy was the annual meeting to to share best practice, discuss developments in the wine world, and agree on activities for the coming year, as well as transfer the presidency – this year from Frederic Drouhin to Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild for 2013.

Miguel Torres and Francois Perrin in earnest discussion waiting for the bus

Dominic wrote in to say “It was great fun, with many members of all the families, including a good number from the next generation.  It’s always nice to mix with friends and fellow wine-makers in an environment away from commercial pressure.”  Though their wineries are located in a dozen different regions, the group share many common concerns not just of wine production and distribution, but managing and ensuring the future of a family business, and the protection of their vineyards, regions and unique heritage.

Business and pleasure naturally go together among winemakers, and Dominic describes the weekend’s events as a combination of serious discussions and brilliant wine and food:

At the end of the Annual Meeting we had a picnic lunch in Drouhin’s Premier Cru Clos de Mouches vineyards south of Beaune which began with a delicious Chablis Premier Cru aperitif, followed by both white and red wines from the Clos de Mouches.  During the picnic we enjoyed a fascinating talk from Aubert de Villaine, proprietor of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, on the history and terroir of Burgundy and his efforts to get the region classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site.  This was followed by a very technical presentation on the geology and different soil types within the region and their influence on the wines.

Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, Paul Symington

In the evening the team from the Michelin starred restaurant Hostellerie de Levernois served dinner in the Chambre du Roi at the Hospices de Beaune.  Naturally more superb wines from fellow PFV members were served including Pol Roger 2002 magnum, Meursault Premier Cru Perrières 2002, Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Grand Cru 2004 magnum, Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2001, an outstanding Griotte Chambertin Grand Cru 1985 and a fantastically youthful Warre’s 1980 Vintage Port.

Aromas and Flavours

Dominic Symington is on the road again, this week in São Paulo, Brazil at Expovinis, showing a range of Graham’s Ports including Six Grapes and the Graham’s 1983 Vintage, 10 and 20 Year Old Tawnies, and our 1969 Single Harvest Tawny.  Whilst there is nothing very unusual in this, he worked with José Carlos Santanita, of The Wine Academy who are also at Expovinis, to create an unconventional presentation and tasting experiment for visitors.

Arrayed on the table surrounding a bottle of Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny were wine glasses, each containing samples of herbs, spices or fruits, such as star aniseed, nutmeg, pepper, orange peel, and various fresh tropical fruits.  Guests were invited to enjoy a tasting of the Tawny and then “nose” the various foodstuffs.  This helps the connoisseur to identify aromas and flavours in the wine by comparing them with an actual sample of that food, and may also suggest compatible food pairings.

Dominic’s own findings:

I did compare lemon thyme and dried desiccated orange peel … Even a hint of cinnamon stick and a little vanilla pod.   Amazing how individually you can find hints of these aromas when you smell them pure in a glass and then compare to a glass of 20 Year Old Tawny!  Sadly I didn’t have a chance to try this with a young vintage.

Anyone who has done a wine course is likely to have worked with the bottled aroma essences in wine education kits, but have you ever tried this kind of experiment with foods, flowers or other aromatic materials to compare with your Port wines?  What have you found that surprised you?

The Douro Goes to Vienna

The start of the year is always an extraordinarily busy time for every one at Graham’s and Symington Family Estates, as we travel to share our wines at many shows and exclusive tasting events around the world.

Dominic Symington

Dominic Symington has been in Vienna, at the Welt WeinFestival at the Palais Coburg, which rightly bills itself as “the meeting point of wine connoisseurs, wine experts and viniculturists from all over the world.”  The four day event features a wine show of 250 fine wines from 50 makers across 12 countries, as well as Master Classes and fine wine dinners.

Dominic was one of a group of four winemakers whose Douro properties produce both Port and Douro DOC wines: Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Vale do Meão, Quinta Vale Dona Maria and Dominic on this occasion represented Prats + Symington, which makes DOC wines under the names Chryseia, Post Scriptum and Prazo de Roriz, and Quinta de Roriz Port wines.  As neighbours in the Douro, well familiar with one another’s wines and estates – as were generations of all our families before us – it was an extraordinary opportunity to show visitors to the Welt WeinFestival what the region can produce.

Cristiano van Zeller presenting Douro wines at the Welt WeinFestival in Vienna, against a backdrop of Prats + Symington's Quinta de Roriz.

Cristiano van Zeller of Quinta Vale Dona Maria was asked by the organisers to present a selection of Douro wines, and among others showed the Douro DOC wines Chryseia 2008 and Quinta do Vesuvio 2008.  He knows our wines very well and had no difficulty presenting and discussing them with the group.

Dominic wrote in to tell us more:

Having four of the top Douro wine producers all together created a lot of attention and as a group we were one of the most sought after tasting areas.  This was fascinating for the visitors as they were able to cross taste at different quality levels and therefore better understand the nuances and unique flavours of Douro red wines.  The guests were at times a little surprised to see us picking up bottles from each other’s tables and suggesting that they do mini comparative tastings across producers.

In addition, I was one of six producers who did Tasting Lessons with small groups of just 3 or 4 guests.  We discussed with them how we the producers taste, what we look for ourselves.  As Port is so different from dry wine I also discussed and explained the various flavour stages in the maturing cycle of Vintage Port.

For this lesson I showed Graham’s 1994 – currently at the secondary stage of maturity and showing quite superbly! – and the Post Scriptum 2009.  This was very interesting because I could show how (essentially) exactly the same grape varieties make two such distinctive wines.  The guests were intrigued to be taken through the wines in detail and to look for similarities of aroma and flavour within such distinctive styles, Port and dry Douro DOC wine.  Fascinatingly some people found it easier to identify a particular character in the Graham’s ’94 first and then find it in the Post Scriptum, while others went the other way.

One question posed was, “would it be easier if the Post Scriptum was more mature?” to which I replied yes, as I believe the richness of the Douro wines evolve as they mature and take on a more “port-like” aromatic.

Graham’s at Hugos Restaurant

A team of top chefs prepared truffle-based dishes for the guests at Hugos Restaurant to enjoy with Graham's Ports

Dominic Symington has recently returned from Berlin where Graham’s was invited to take part in a Truffle Party at the Michelin-starred Hugos Restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel Berlin.  The event was organised by Thomas Kammeier, Chef at Hugos, who together with many guest chefs, including Joachim Koerper of the Michelin-starred Restaurant Eleven in Lisbon and Johannes King of the  two-Michelin-starred Restaurant at the Sol’ring Hof Hotel on the German Island of Sylt, prepared a variety of small truffle-based creations which guests enjoyed in an informal walk-around buffet.

Dominic Symington was at Hugos Restaurant in Berlin to serve Graham's Vintage 2007 and 20 Year Old Tawny

Thomas himself invited us to join the party, and Dominic brought along 6 Litre bottles of Graham’s Vintage 2007 and Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny for guests to enjoy with the truffle dishes.  Both were a great success and we ran out of wine before the end of the night.  Dominic said “It was a huge, fun evening.  I left at midnight and the party was still in full swing!”

During the event an auction was held to raise money for an African children’s charity which is supported by a group of top German chefs.  Thomas so enjoyed his own visit to the Douro last year, he asked if he could auction a 2 day visit to Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos.  As a result of the ensuing very highly contested auction two couples will join Thomas Kammeier and Johannes King (who, together with his restaurant team, visited Dominic at Malvedos just last week) on a Port lover’s dream trip to Graham’s during the harvest in September.  The Quinta dos Malvedos trip alone raised € 22,000 for the charity out of a total of € 60,000 raised on the night.

Which Ports Are The Symingtons Enjoying Today?

At the Christmas party Friday I did a quick survey of the Symington family members to ask which Ports they would be enjoying over the holidays?

Charles’s first answer was, I haven’t had time to see what’s in the cellar!  With a moment’s reflection, he decided he would bring up some 1970 Graham’s.  At the Port Walk tasting at Berry Brothers & Rudd in 2010 I remember Charles saying this wine was served at his wedding as well as several other special occasions – so clearly this one is a favourite for sentimental reasons, besides being a great Port.

Charles’s father Peter is also planning to enjoy a 1970 Vintage Port, but in his case, a 1970 Dow’s.

Paul and Dominic are also both planning on drinking Dow’s Vintage Ports, both from vintages that are underrated:  Paul will enjoy the Dow’s 1955 and Dominic will be pouring the Dow’s 1966 which has always been unfairly overshadowed by the 1963.

Rupert will be enjoying the Quinta dos Malvedos 1964 – this is his birth year, and he still has another 30 bottles or so in his cellar, so he makes a point of opening one every year, to make sure it is still ageing as well as he is!

Johnny can’t tell me what his family will be served – it is a sample wine, which, if it passes muster with the family over the holiday, we may hear about in 2012!

And Rupert’s father, James, will be serving Dow’s 1970 and Gould Campbell 1980, both in magnum.  The reasons for his choices, and the story of the Warre’s 1908 he served last year, are told in full in a news story on The Vintage Port Site.

What Ports will you be serving over the holidays?  We would love to hear from you!

Merry Christmas from the Symingtons!