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!

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Holiday Cheer

Symington family members and staff from Graham’s and Symington Family Estates’ offices in Vila Nova de Gaia, the Lodge and all our Douro properties, came together this afternoon for the annual Christmas lunch and party.

Paul made a pithy speech, reviewing the accomplishments of our employees and the firm in the past year.  98 of our employees – almost 30% of the workforce – have been with the firm 25 years or more, which is an outstanding testament to the dedication of our employees and to the incredible depth of experience that SFE can bring to all its endeavours.  Two employees marked their 43rd year with us.

In 2011 our Port brands again substantially outperformed the overall Port market, particularly in the sales of premium Ports.  Despite the financial crisis, the Symingtons continue to invest heavily in a wide range of projects, including critical in-house computer systems, the successful re-launch of Cockburn’s Port and the Altano table wines, replanting  25 hectares of vineyards, a new winery adjacent to Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim, and of course the re-design of the Graham’s Lodge here in Gaia.

To celebrate, we enjoyed an excellent meal, a lavish dessert banquet, and a spin on the dance floor afterwards.  I can tell you that while Johnny definitely has the moves, it was Paul’s flawless lip-synch to that disco classic “YMCA” that really impressed me!

The Symington Family and everyone at Graham’s and Symington Family Estates wish all of you a joyous and safe holiday season and a prosperous 2012.

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Graham’s Lodge in Winter

Graham’s Lodge is open throughout the winter, and after your tour, it’s nice to relax and savour some warming Ports, without the bustle of summer crowds.

But be aware – the Lodge will close Friday 23rd December at 12:00 noon and be closed on Monday 26th December as well.  From the 27th, we resume normal winter hours, Monday through Friday, 9:30 to 13:00 (last tour 12:00), and 14:00 to 17:30 (last tour 16:00).

For a map and more information, visit the Lodge’s own website.

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September and October 2011 Douro Insider

After a bit of a non-summer came an extraordinary autumn, bringing weather that the gods of grapes wouldn’t have dared to dream about.  With just enough rain falling on the first of the month to refresh the vines and put the final gloss on maturation, we then enjoyed a seemingly endless summer, with absolutely perfect picking weather.  The growing season thus far had brought innumerable viticultural difficulties and some not inconsiderable losses of potential production, so it was extremely pleasing to see that the surviving grapes that did eventually come into the wineries appeared to be in excellent condition.  Read Full Report

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Help the Graham’s Blogger

The Graham’s blogger has accumulated almost 16,000 photos since the blog was re-launched in July 2010.  So… why haven’t we changed our header image in all that time?

We have winnowed down to four images and now we are asking you:  Which of the following photos would you enjoy seeing across the top of the blog every time you come to visit?

Please vote for one through the survey form below,  and over the Christmas break we will count the votes and load the new image you have chosen.

Tasting Lineup at Graham’s Lodge:

Tawny on the Veranda at Malvedos:

The Malvedos Gate:

The Vineyards at Malvedos During Harvest:

Please vote for your favourite photo here:

[polldaddy poll=5704478]

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Graham’s Winners at the Concurso de Saltos Internacional

The Graham's Jump on the course at CSI Porto

Graham’s had an exciting weekend at the Concurso de Saltos Internacional in Porto and was very pleased to sponsor and present two trophies at this prestigious event in the international show jumping calendar.

The seventh trial of the weekend, on Saturday 10 December, was the Dificuldades Progressivas com Joker (Accumulator with Joker), and the winner was the Brazilian Bernardo Alves on his horse Nimu L’Enchante.  Joe Alvares Ribeiro, Executive Director of Symington Family Estates, was on hand to present a bottle of Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny 1969, accompanied by his son and Gonçalo Portal of Go On Sport Events Lda, the organisers of CSI Porto.

Renowned Fadista, Katia Guerreiro, together with Prof João Mota (President of the Clube de Hipismo de Leça) chose the Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet and his beautiful grey Crushing Z, as winners of the Graham’s Style Competition, for being impeccably turned out.  Katia presented the award of Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny 1969 to Gregory, while it appears the horse was enjoying a feed of oats!

The slide show below gives you some highlights of the weekend, and you can find full results and many more photos on the CSI Porto website (in both English and Portuguese).

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Graham’s Sponsors Concurso de Saltos Internacional

After successfully sponsoring the first Concurso de Saltos Internacional (International Show Jumping Competition) held in May of this year at Ponte de Lima, Graham’s Port owned by the Symington Family, is once again proud to announce their support and sponsorship of the second International Show Jumping Competition which will take place at Exponor in Porto from 8–11 December 2011.

Considered the largest equestrian event in Portugal, Graham’s will give its name to one of the competitions in the contest taking place on Saturday 10th December at 11H00.   The “Graham’s Trophy”, an integral part of the competition, will be awarded to the winner.

During this event, the Symington Family will launch the Graham’s 1969 Single Harvest Tawny, a special limited edition that reflects maximum quality and excellence of the brand.   The winner will be presented with a bottle of this unique Port from a rare batch of only six casks of the year 1969, each producing only 712 numbered bottles.

The renowned Portuguese fado singer, Katia Guerreiro, will join with Graham’s in choosing the most elegant rider of the competition and this will be toasted with a glass of Graham’s 1969 Single Harvest Tawny Port.

Graham’s finest quality Ports are a fitting match to a prestigious, international equestrian competition such as this and we wish the competitors every success.

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Private Cellar Release: Graham’s 1970

James Symington at the Factory House with his grandfather AJ looking over his shoulder

In 1970 the Symington Family acquired the firm of W & J Graham, including the wine stocks and the properties in both the Douro and Vila Nova de Gaia.  James Symington was at Quinta dos Malvedos for their first harvest that autumn and together with his cousins was responsible for the winemaking.  In his harvest report, James wrote:

It is likely that the 1970 wines will prove to be quite outstandingly good.  The colour (of the must) is exceptional and very purple and they seem to have plenty of body… Everybody seems delighted with the 1970s and it would surprise nobody if the year produced a Vintage.

Because of both the historical significance of this being their first harvest for Graham’s, and the sheer quality of the wine, the Symington Family decided to hold back a private reserve of several hundred bottles of Graham’s 1970 Vintage Port.  Those bottles have never been moved from the cellar at our Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Until now.

The 1970 Graham’s has been praised by critics over the entire course of its life, from Michael Broadbent’s top score of 5 Stars in 1972 on release, to Clive Coates calling it “the complete wine” and rating it 20 out of 20 points in 1991, to Richard Mayson observing earlier this year that it was “Still deep for its age… Drink with pleasure for the next thirty years or more!”

Vintage Port, like all wines for ageing, is affected by its storage conditions.  The coastal climate here in Vila Nova de Gaia, together with the consistently and naturally cool conditions in our Lodge, combine to create the perfect conditions for ageing fine Ports, in cask or in bottle.

We wanted our customers to have the chance to taste perfection:  An extraordinary Vintage Port, at what we consider to be the optimum epoch in its life cycle, the 40 year mark, which has been stored in ideal conditions.

Graham's 1970 Private Cellar

So, we have decided to release some of the Graham’s Vintage 1970 from our private reserve.  Each bottle is presented in a handsome individual wooden case and is accompanied by a document telling the story of the wine, and signed by Paul Symington, certifying that this bottle has matured in the family’s private cellar at the Lodge.

For us, fine Port is to be shared and enjoyed with like-minded friends who can appreciate the quality and complexity of an extraordinary wine, and we hope that you will have the chance to share the immense pleasure of the Graham’s 1970 with your friends this holiday season as well, whether as a gift or at table.

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Graham’s In Taipei

Jorge Nunes has been in the Far East this past month, visiting our distributors and many of the bars and restaurants that offer Graham’s Ports on their menus.

In Taipai Jorge was at Just in Bistro Xin Ye, Chef Justin Quek‘s most recently opened restaurant.  All three of his restuarants feature Asian cuisine with a distinctly French approach, reflecting his own roots in Singapore, his French training and his creative use of the local Taiwanese specialties.

The service team at the Bistro enjoyed a training session which included tasting our wines and some food pairing experiments with a variety of dishes – notice the very big smile on Jorge’s face with that soufflé in one hand and a bottle of Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny in the other!

Afterwards the doors were opened to Just in Bistro’s customers for a special event showing Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny, Late Bottled Vintage and Quinta dos Malvedos 1998 Vintage Port with an array of dessert dishes.

If you are in Taipei, be sure to visit the Bistro, where in addition to the wonderful cuisine, you can enjoy Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny and Late Bottled Vintage, which are available by the glass.  If you do go, we would love to hear from you, please leave a comment to tell us which dish you paired your Port with!

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