Luckily for Premium Port Wines, the Symingtons think differently. We feel strongly that the best way to understand and appreciate our wines is to understand the family and traditions behind them, the attention to quality in every step of the production process, and the vineyards and region they come from. With several new members on the team and so much to learn about the region, a week-long sales meeting in Porto, Gaia and the Douro was the obvious solution.
The next day in Vila Nova de Gaia, the team saw for themselves how Graham’s uses the best of high tech where appropriate, as at our bottling plant, and low tech, for example in our cooperage, where centuries-old skills and procedures are still the best for repairing the old casks in which we age our wines. PPW had the tour of our Lodge, as well as our head office, where they were tutored through an extensive tasting of a full range of our wines in the Sala de Provas, and enjoyed meeting the family and directors at lunch.
Next, they headed up to the Douro, to stay at Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos for three nights with Quinta do Tua taking up the overflow. Days were spent visiting many of the Symington quintas, not just those which supply the grapes for Graham’s, but also Quinta do Vesuvio, Dow’s Senhora da Ribeira, Cockburn’s Quinta dos Canais, Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim and Quinta de Roriz which makes the Prats & Symington Douro DOC wines, Chryseia and Post Scriptum.
And while there were in fact presentations and discussions of strategy and numbers, there was also lots of sun and fresh air, hikes through the vineyards to better understand Douro viticulture, and several wine tastings.
On Thursday morning Rupert divided the team into two groups, and challenged them to blend for themselves Graham’s 10 and 20 Year Old Tawnies from their component wines. This is an incredibly difficult exercise, even when given the exact component wines that make up the current blend. Rupert said one of the PPW teams did get respectably close – within about 80% of the correct blend – showing fine potential as blenders. (You can read more about this type of blending exercise, conducted with another group during last year’s harvest, in another blog post)
PPW also enjoyed a vertical tasting of Quinta dos Malvedos vintage ports, including 1965, 1987, 1995, 2001 and 2006. Rupert was very pleased with how the wines were showing, mentioning the 2001 and 1987 as particularly outstanding right now. The group commented on how consistent the Quinta style had been over more than four decades, with most of the wines showing the signature esteva (gum cistus or rock rose) aroma and black cherry fruit.
Finally, lest there be any doubts they weren’t in Kansas any more, Rupert took the team to the Calça Curta – the local restaurant in Tua – and treated them to a dinner of local specialities including pike, perch and eels from the river Douro.
Another memorable visit by PPW to the Douro !
The full PPW team in the Douro:
Front and center: Chili Second row, kneeling: Christine Solga-Bradburn, Vince McCarthy, Louis Charton, Peter Scott Third row, standing: Rupert Symington, Maria José Marques (SFE), Gloria Chow, Sheryl Sankey, Michael Donygan, Greg Murray, John Linklater, Arnold Trabb Back row: Paul Mugnier, Andre Pomp, Drew Kligman