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Ports and table wines from the Symingtons

Travessa Barão de Forrester 86, 4401-997 Vila Nova de Gaia , Portugal

The Symington family is the dominant forces in the Port wine trade, encompassing brands such as Graham, Warre, Dow, Smith Woodhouse and Quarles Harris. Initially reluctant to move beyond Port, they’ve only branched out into table wines in recent years, and now make a wide range, including the celebrated Chryseia, a collaboration with Bruno Prats.

The Ports are, as you’d expect, quite impressive. The table wines vary, some offering great value, others rather ordinary. Although Chryseia itself wasn’t included in this tasting (none was made in 2002), I’ve reviewed the 2000 and 2001 (the two vintages released so far) favourably in the past; it’s a sleek wine in a modern style. It has to be recognized, though, that this is a company committed to making relatively large volumes and selling at commercial price points – they can’t be quite as individual or obsessive as outfits making very small quantities which can command higher prices. I guess it’s a compromise.

Table wines

Prazo de Roriz 2002 Douro
Open, sweet fruit on the nose which is ripe and berryish. The palate shows vivid fruit, but with a rather hollow, light character. Modern styled. A nice enough drink but reflects the difficulties of the vintage. Very good+ 86/100

Quinta do Roriz Reserva 2001 Douro
Very richly fruited, almost opulent nose with lush berry fruits. Lush fruit dominates the chewy, chunky palate. Very fruit forward and quite tasty. Very good/excellent 90/100

Post Scriptum de Chryseia 2002 Douro
The second wine of Chryseia; none of the first wine was made in this vintage. Quite an elegant fruity nose of vivid black fruits. Savoury palate is quite spicy with nice open fruit and savoury structure. Tiny bit hollow, but still nice for near-term drinking. Very good/excellent 90/100

Altano Reserva 2000 Douro
Nice savoury, minerally nose with a heby edge to the fruit. The palate is chewy, spicy and minerally with nice complexity and an almost claret-like weight. Not a big wine. Very good+ 87/100

Altano Reserva 2001 Douro
Ripe, structured nose showing fresh, slightly herby fruit. The palate is quite ripe and structured. Nicely balanced, although perhaps a little dilute. Very good+ 88/00

Altano Reserva 2002 Douro
Thin, tight and a bit charmless. Very savoury with a spicy, high acid structure. Very good 84/100

Rio Belo 1999 Douro
A blend of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca. Quite an intense, spicy, savoury nose of expressive herby red fruits, with a medicinal character. Chunky palate with a herby, medicinal edge to the fruit. Odd. Very good 84/100


Warre’s Otima 10 year old Tawny
I was a bit disappointed by this: the packaging is just right, but the wine doesn’t match it. Fruity, nutty nose is a little simple. Sweet, rounded fruit on the palate with some soft spiciness. Tasty but a little simple. Very good+ 86/100

Warre’s Otima 20 year old Tawny
Some spicy complexity to the nose. Open palate with some caramel and spicy richness; some complexity here. Very good+ 88/100

Grahams Crusted Port (bottled 1998)
Appealing ripe, sweet fruit on the nose with a liquoricey edge. Quite refined. The palate shows rich, elegant fruit: liquoricey, herby and with some tannic structure. Not too sweet. Very good/excellent 92/100

Warre’s 1994 bottle-matured LBV (bottled 1998)
Quite classy fruit on the nose. The palate is rounded and spicy; quite sweet with some elegance. Approachable now with its rich, soft texture. Quite serious. Very good+ 89/100 (£15.64 Tesco)

Dow’s Quinta do Bomfin 1995
This single Quinta port shows a very sweet, open, pure blackcurrant fruit nose. The palate is sweet, ripe, soft and seamless: drinking brilliantly now. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£21.09 Tesco)

Warre’s 1980
Lovely intense sweet fruit on the nose with liquorice and herb notes. The palate is open and quite complex with rounded, spicy herby fruit. Great balance and quite a bit of elegance, this is nice, although not a big blockbuster style. Drinking now. Very good/excellent 92/100

Graham’s Quinta do Malvedos 1996
Deep coloured. Smooth, dense, rounded fruit is now very harmonious and rich. A bold wine drinking well now. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£21.99 Sainsbury)

Quinta do Vesúvio 2001
Vivid purple colour. Very expressive spicy, taut fruit on the nose. The palate is concentrated and rich with lots of structured fruit. Not overly sweet but very powerful with brilliant fruit quality. Fantastic stuff. Very good/excellent 93/100 (£34.99 Sainsbury’s Wine)

see also: an introduction to Port; the Douro table wine revolution; tasting notes of Portuguese wines; Portugal's top red wines

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