Graham's and Quinta dos Malvedos
Visiting the Symingtons in Portugal's Douro Valley, part 3

The Graham family entered the Port trade in 1820, and in 1890 acquired the fabulous Quinta dos Malvedos. But this was sold off during difficult financial times, and then in 1970 the Symingtons acquired the house of Grahamís, later reuniting it with Malvedos when they purchased this quinta also. 

Grahamís has a deserved reputation as one of the top Port houses, consistently making brilliant Vintage Ports in declared years. The house style is one of dense, rich, sweet Ports with the structure and oomph to age well for 30 or 40 years. 

In years when the Vintage Port isnít declared, a single-quinta Vintage Port under the Malvedos name is usually released, and this is often superb. As well as Malvedos, vineyard sources for Grahamís include Quinta das Lages and Quinta da Vila Velha.

Malvedos itself is beautifully situated in the upper parts of the Cima Corgo, just before the Tua river turns off. In front of the house, thereís a very colonial lawn with a flagpole, and stunning views down river. An ideal location for a pre-dinner drink.

John Major once holidayed here while he was prime minister. It is quite remote: the perfect place to get away from everything, and drink some nice Port, too. We werenít told how much he consumed, but I canít think of many places in Europe where itís possible to feel cut off (in a nice way), almost in a different era. 


Paul Symington in the old winery

The Quintaís vineyards are superbly situated, and we had some stunning views as we walked through them, to the top of the property, looking back at the winery and house. It was just at the beginning of vintage: the first lagar had been filled that morning, and the grapes were hanging on the vines ripe and inviting. It's certainly the best time to be visiting a vineyard. 

2011, it seems, will almost certainly be a top vintage for both Ports and table wines. It will pretty much certainly be a declared year for vintage Port. Winemaker Henry Shotton was very happy with the quality of the grapes coming in. 


Henry Shotton

THE WINES

Grahamís 10 Year Old Tawny Port
Nicely rounded, spicy and raisiny with some fruit but also lovely spicy, woody, raisiny notes. Very sweet style. 90/100

Grahamís 20 Year Old Tawny Port
Nicely complex with some cedary notes and hints of old furniture. Attractive fruity notes and warm, sweet, spicy complexity. Thereís also a serious savouriness here, alongside the sweeter notes. 93/100

Grahamís 40 Year Old Tawny Port
Savoury, complex and intense with raisin, spice and old furniture notes. Attractively savoury as well as being sweet, with lovely intensity. 94/100

Grahamís Late Bottled Vintage 2006
Fresh, sweet and intense with a brilliant core of fruit. Attractive stuff that over-delivers. 90/100

Grahamís Six Grapes Reserve Ruby Port NV
Rich and sweet with lovely pure fruit. Delicious stuff with lots of flavour. Ripe and full with nice sweet fruit. 90/100

Grahamís Crusted Port 2001
Fresh, fruity and a bit minty with nice texture. Smooth, ripe and balanced with some mellow, evolved characters and sweet fruit. 90/100

Grahamís Vintage Port 2003
Fantastic stuff: dense and structured with some tannin, but so silky, too. Robust style with dense, sweet fruit and real power. Just beautiful with bags of tannic structure still. An irresistible young vintage Port. 96/100

Grahamís Vintage Port 2007
Incredibly bold and aromatic with vivid black cherry and blackberry fruit. The palate is vivid and pure with amazing focus and purity. Fruit dominated and pure with lots of structure. 96/100

Grahamís Quinta de Malvedos 1999 Douro, Portugal
Sweet, aromatic spicy nose leads to a warm palate with spicy, sweet, lively ripe berry fruits. Thereís some pepperiness, too. Itís mellow, with a dry-ish finish despite the sweetness. 91/100

Grahamís Quinta de Malvedos 2006 Douro, Portugal
Sweet, aromatic and floral with perfumed aromas. The palate is sweet, pure and vivid with lovely black cherry fruit and silky tannins. Brilliant stuff, and all the more so because this wasnít thought to be a good vintage at the time. 94/100

Grahamís Quinta de Malvedos 2009 Douro, Portugal
Vivid nose is vinous with beautiful fruit: black cherry and blackberry. Very ripe with lots of sweetness. Beautifully floral and intense. A pretty, expressive, open Port. 93/100

Grahamís Quinta de Malvedos 1965 Douro, Portugal
(This was served blind, note as written). Complex, sweet and spicy. Beautifully elegant and balanced with rich, sweet, spicy fruit and a bit of bite. Rounded and elegant. 95/100

Grahamís Colheita 1961 Douro, Portugal
(This was served blind, note as written). Thrilling, lively and spicy with intense flavours and aromas. Raisin, spice, citrus notes, with real freshness and complexity. A brilliant wine showing good concentration. 96/100

Grahamís Colheita 1882 Douro, Portugal
(This was served blind, note as written). Dense, concentrated and mature. Bold and sweet with some powerful, massively intense flavours of spice and raisin. Amazing concentration, richness and power. Thrilling stuff, and itís hard to convey the sensations in words. Has the intensity that only very long ageing in wood can provide. 98/100  

A film of the visit:

VISITING THE SYMINGTONS  

Part 1, introduction
Part 2, Warre's and Quinta da Cavadinha
Part 3, Graham's and Malvedos
Part 4, Cockburn's and Quinta dos Canais
Part 5, Dow's and Senhora de Ribeira
Part 6, Vesuvio, foot-treading and mechanical lagares
Part 7, Quinta de Roriz and the table wines
Part 8, Photographs  

Wines tasted 09/11  
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