and Quinta dos Canais
Visiting the Symingtons in Portugal's Douro Valley, part 4
We stopped by
Canais for a visit, but not to taste. This 740 estate was purchased
by Cockburn’s in the late 1980s and was extensively redeveloped,
with plantings by variety. There’s quite a bit of Touriga Nacional
In 2006 the
Symingtons bought the vineyards and wine stocks of Cockburn,
including this beautiful property, but they continued to sell the
grapes to brand owners Beam Global. Then, in 2010, they purchased
the brand as well, which was a major acquisition for them.
‘As a family,
we have to make sure we have a viable business,’ says Paul
Symington. ‘In my 30 years in the Port trade, several families
have gone out of business. Some sold well, others didn’t. So
making sure we have a viable business is important.’
He points out
that just 4–5% of Port sales are through independent merchants (40
000 cases). The Port industry is around 1 million cases over all.
‘So we have to work with the supermarkets and big retailers or I
would have to sack 80% of my staff,’ says Symington.
understand that to carry on doing business, they need to be big
enough to work with the largest retailers, and that buying Cockburns
would give them an edge. ‘In Cockburns we saw a fantastic brand
that hadn’t been well treated in recent years. If we bring quality
back to the fore, we have a great brand,’ says Symington. His view
was that the Cockburns vineyards were in great shape, but the
wineries were poor.
We saw the
winemaking facilities at Canais, and they didn’t look brilliant.
The Symingtons are making just a bit of wine here at the moment. We
had a quick look around, and then moved on to Senhora de Ribeira,
another Symington quinta in the Douro Superior.
Part 2, Warre's
and Quinta da Cavadinha
Part 3, Graham's
Cockburn's and Quinta dos Canais
5, Dow's and
Senhora de Ribeira
Part 6, Vesuvio,
foot-treading and mechanical lagares
Part 7, Quinta de
Roriz and the table wines
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