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First Time in Their History

For the very first time in their history, the Symington Family has made back-to-back Vintage Port declarations. 2016 has been followed by 2017.

Back-to-back Vintage Port declarations by the Symington Family are more difficult to come by than finding the needle in the haystack. In fact, since their ancestor Andrew James Symington arrived in Porto in 1882, this has not occurred before. Until now.

Such is the quality of the 2017 vintage that the Symington Family finally succumbed to the inevitable, having also declared 2016 to be a Vintage Port.

Incredibly demanding on themselves, it would – as one would expect – have to be an exceptional year before the Symingtons are willing to throw caution to the wind. Such, though, is the quality of the 2017 vintage that the family finally succumbed to the inevitable, having also declared 2016 to be a Vintage Port.

‘In my 25 years as a winemaker in our family vineyards, I have never seen a year like this. The yields were extremely low (20% below the 10-year average), but the intensity, concentration and structure took my breath away. We have made some really remarkable wines,’ allowed Head Winemaker Charles Symington.

A unusually hot year in the Douro, 2017 was also the earliest to be picked. It was three weeks earlier than normal and the harvest ended when it would normally would have just started. Such was the precocity of the vine cycle in 2017 that Charles Symington had to ask his viticulture and winemaking teams to cut short their summer holidays. In order to begin the harvest in late August. We don’t suppose he was the most endearing man in the Douro at the time but, tasting the results, kudos must now be offered for his foresight

The exceptionally hot weather was mitigated by winter rainfall from October 2016 to February 2017. The water reserves thus created in the soil nourished the vines through the long, hot, dry summer. As a result, they produced compact bunches of perfectly matured fruit: touriga nacional, touriga franca, sousao, and alicante bouschet. Concentrated, intense, and wonderfully balanced, a long future is expected of the wines.

From left: Lewis Mitchell, Ivy Chen, Patricia Britton, Symington Family Estates’ Asia Pacific Market Manager/Winemaker Jorge Nunes, and Gerrie Lim. The tasting took place at The ExciseMan Whisky Bar, Singapore (founded and owned by Britton and Mitchell).

Cockburn’s 2017

Floral and violets. Blackcurrant and mulberries. Ripe and plummy. Smooth tannins. Pomerol-like in texture.

Dow’s 2017

The immediate impression – tasting this after Cockburn’s – is that Dow’s is more structured. And fresher. Floral, violets, and mint. Blue- and blackberries. Rich tannins. Vivacious.

Graham’s 2017

Violets and cassis. A sweeter, richer style than Cockburn’s but less enticingly fresh as Dow’s. All five wines are deep, dark purple/black opaque.

Quinta do Vesuvio 2017

This is the only single vineyard Vintage Port of the flight. Mint, mulberries, and black fruit. Rich tannins and tension.

Warre’s 2017

The most impressive, layered, and nuanced. Violets and roses. Mulberries and cassis. Rich, elegant tannins nut also with a grip on the finish. Fruit, structure, freshness, and charm in the same glass.

About CH’NG Poh Tiong

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