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Symington Family Declares the 2017 Vintage Port

We are pleased to announce 2017 as a classic Vintage Port year, making this our first ever 'back-to-back' general declaration since Andrew James Symington arrived in Porto in 1882.

The announcement - only the sixth declaration of the 21st century - concludes a period of intense discussion within the wine trade as to whether 2017 would warrant a full declaration, given the quality of the critically acclaimed 2016 Vintage Ports and the rarity of declarations. The first consecutive declaration by our family is a milestone moment in our long history and is the result of two very different but extremely high-quality years for port in the Douro.

The 2017 wines were the result of an advanced growing cycle which led to the earliest harvest ever recorded in our family’s 137-year history as winemakers and port producers. Warmer, drier conditions than usual resulted in small, compact bunches of grapes in excellent condition, with yields amongst the lowest of the century so far, 20% below the 10-year average.

Despite the harvest beginning in August, the maturations were perfectly balanced, resulting in wines characterised by extraordinary intensity, concentration and structure, combined with stunning aromas and freshness.

We have produced 2017 Vintage Ports from across our flagship Douro Quintas, and will shortly be offering limited quantities (by allocation en primeur) of Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s and Cockburn’s as well as Quinta do Vesuvio, Graham’s The Stone Terraces and Capela da Quinta do Vesuvio. The 2017 is just the fourth release of the latter two, which are only produced in truly exceptional years. Given the very low-yielding year, the 2017 Vintage Port is the smallest Symington declaration of the 21st century.

For detailed information on each wine, see The Vintage Port Site.

“In my 25 years as a winemaker in our family vineyards, I have never seen a year like 2017. The yields were extremely low, but the concentration and structure took my breath away. We have made some really remarkable wines." 

Charles Symington, Head Winemaker
 

 “Few wine regions in the world restrict vintage years with such integrity as we do in the Douro. The decision to declare Vintage Ports from two consecutive years was not one taken lightly. However, these two exceptionally strong harvests have produced wines of such immense quality that we felt justified in making this historic decision.”

Johnny Symington, Chairman

    Graham’s launches innovative White Port targeting new consumers and vibrant bar scene

    Graham’s Port, one of the Symington family's flagship port brands, is set to launch their first premium white port to engage with new consumers and broaden the category's appeal.

     

    Graham’s Blend Nº5 White Port brings together the port-making knowledge handed down through the Symington family since the 19th century with the more contemporary and informal approach of the 5th generation, who have recently joined the family’s long winemaking tradition.

     

    The release of Blend Nº5 follows the increasing popularity of White Port & Tonic as a refreshing aperitif. The trend towards healthier lifestyles and people ‘drinking less, but better’ has prompted a surge in lower strength alcoholic drinks. The Port & Tonic has been experiencing success in both the on-trade and at home as an innovative and less alcoholic alternative to the classic Gin & Tonic.

     

    This growth has been helped by the development of Porto and the Douro Valley as a thriving tourist destination, where many holidaymakers are able to sample the iconic Port & Tonic in the vibrant city where it was born, before looking to replicate the drink back home.

     

    White port in a long serve has come as a welcome surprise to people who see port as a more traditional after dinner drink. The drink is particularly popular in the UK where sales increased by 161% from 2012 to 2017*

     

    Whereas most white ports are made up of a mixed field blend of various white grape varieties,

    Graham’s Port’s head winemaker, Charles Symington, selected two premium Portuguese white grape varieties - the fresh Malvasia Fina and the aromatic Moscatel Gallego - to produce this new blend.

     

    The grapes are hand-picked and cold fermented in small batches. Blend No.5 is bottled 3 months after the harvest to preserve maximum freshness and should be drunk young. The wine is medium dry, deliberately designed to mix well with tonic whilst also being an excellent standalone drink.

     

    Due to Blend No5’s micro production (less than 6000 bottles), and the popularity of premium port in the UK, Blend No5 is only currently available to the UK market.

     

    The new look packaging, which represents a clear departure from the more traditional presentation of other ports, is intended to increase the product's appeal in the on-trade and reach new consumers who previously might not have had port in their drinking repertoires. Graham’s has partnered with drinks agency CASK Liquid Marketing, who will be leveraging their extensive expertise to raise the on-trade profile of the wine.

     

    Graham’s Design Manager, Alexandra Sousa Ribeiro, commissioned the renowned Portuguese fashion illustrator António Soares, who has previously collaborated with FENDI, Karl Lagerfeld, and Chanel, to draw the beautiful illustrations for the bottle.

     

    “Our design concept aimed to transmit the aromatic fresh profile of the wine - white grapes, lime, peaches, honey - whilst connecting it with mint and lemon, the garnish associated with Port and Tonic. António Soares, who is known for his strong use of colour, was invited to use his artistic interpretation to create the organic elements for the bottle illustration.”

    Alexandra Sousa Ribeiro, Design Manager, Symington Family Estates

     

    “Following the huge success of the Graham’s Aged Tawny Ports in clear glass bottles, we felt it was time create a new take on white port, having seen it grow in reputation over the last few years. We wanted Graham’s Blend Nº5 White Port to be immediate and accessible to a younger generation of port drinkers. The presentation is something completely new for the port trade and we’re excited to see how consumers react.”

    Charlotte Symington, Marketing Manager, Symington Family Estates

    Royal Warrant Holder Graham’s Announces Port To Commemorate Royal Wedding

    The Symington family is pleased to announce a limited bottling of one of their finest Graham’s Ports to commemorate the marriage of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle.

    The family has selected a rare Graham’s 1982 Single Harvest Tawny Port for its exceptional quality, a wine that has been maturing in oak barrels for over three decades.

    Both Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle were born in the early 1980s and this 1982 Port is one of the rarest treasures in the Graham’s cellars, and is therefore a fitting wine to commemorate the Royal wedding. W. & J. Graham’s was honoured by the grant of The Royal Warrant by Her Majesty the Queen in 2017.

    Johnny Symington, Joint Managing Director, says “We are delighted to be able to offer one of our finest Ports to commemorate the Royal wedding. This follows a tradition of bottling special Ports for significant Royal occasions. We produced a Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest for Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and later a Graham’s 90 Year Old Tawny Port for the Queen’s 90th Birthday.”

    Availability in the UK is restricted to 30 Jeroboams (4.5 litre bottles) each in a fine oak box, and to a very limited number of handsome 20cl bottles, each presented in a commemorative box.

    The Symington family will be making a donation to two charities chosen by Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle from the sale of this commemorative Port. The family are pleased to support Crisis, a national charity for homeless people and Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a charity for bereaved Armed Forces children.

    This Graham’s 1982 commemorative Port will be available from 14 May 2018 from a few carefully selected retailers and top London restaurants, including: Harvey Nichols, Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, The Cavalry & Guards Club and The Lanesborough, and Portugal, only.

    Graham's Declares 2016 Vintage Port

    The Symington family is pleased to announce our decision to declare 2016 as a Vintage Port year. This is only the fourth Vintage declaration for all our Port companies since 2000 and the first since the magnificent 2011’s. Few wine regions anywhere restrict Vintage Years with such meticulous care and only truly exceptional Ports are declared in this way.

    The 2015/16 winter was wetter than average, which provided a vital counterbalance to the hot Douro summer. Damp weather continued into May, which caused considerable fruit loss to the unwary. From June, normal service was resumed, and August was very warm although some welcome rain fell on the 24th and 26th. More heat ushered in September, and some started picking although it was clear to those who were properly monitoring their vines that the grapes were not ready. Furthermore, the long-range forecast predicted showers and sure enough invaluable rain fell on the 12th and 13th September.

    This was the year to read the signs and to take risks; Charles Symington, head winemaker, delayed harvesting until the 19th September and the best Touriga Nacional was not harvested until the 26th, and the late-ripening Touriga Franca only during the first ten days of October. The greatest 2016 Symington Ports were made during this later period under lovely blue skies. It is not easy in our incredibly diverse region to pick grapes at exactly the right time, especially when yields are amongst the lowest in the world at 26 hectolitres/ha, with high risk of dehydration and when many producers rely on bought grapes and are therefore dependent on farmers for picking.  All the 2016 Symington Vintage Ports are made from our own Quinta vineyards where Charles and his viticulture team can be seen every day tasting and analysing grapes throughout August and September. All our Vintage Ports were made in our five small lagar wineries, using the classic treading method for great Port.

    The 2016 Vintage Ports are exceptional with tannins that are amongst the most refined ever, supporting beautiful red-fruit flavours with extraordinary intense, purple colour. They have impressive structure and balance, with Baumés, acidity, tannins and colour in rare and perfect alignment. This is no doubt a result of the later ripening cycle which allowed our grapes to mature evenly and completely. Production of each of our 2016 Vintage Ports is approximately 1/5th below our previous declared Vintage following rigorous selection in the tasting room.

      Graham's Port Granted Royal Warrant

      Symington Family Estates has been granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment from Her Majesty The Queen as Suppliers of Graham’s Port. The Symington family and all who work with them in the Douro vineyards and Gaia Lodges are pleased and proud that this honour has been given. 

      Johnny Symington said; “Our great grandfather Andrew James had the Royal Warrant from King George V for Dow’s Port, so it is with great pride that we now receive the Royal Warrant for our Graham’s Port. We feel that our ancestors would have been as pleased as we are with this historic honour, as with the fact that my generation has kept the family Port company united and successful well into the 21st century”.

      05.04.2017

        GRAHAM’S DECLARES STONE TERRACES 2015 VINTAGE PORT

        The small 2.9-hectare Stone Terrace vineyard at Quinta dos Malvedos produced an extraordinary wine in 2015. The grapes were picked by hand on the 12th and 13th of September, a couple of days before substantial rain fell across the Douro Valley, and were then fermented in lagares in the estate’s own winery. Yields were incredibly low at just 0.82 kg per vine but several hours of treading over the following days delivered a magnificent wine with sublime floral aromas of violets.

        The Stone Terrace vineyard at Malvedos is composed of three parcels in a narrow curving valley and all are immediately adjacent, one facing north, another due east and one due west. None faces south. In most of this vineyard there is just one row of vines on each terrace, and walls are between 1.6 and 3 meters high. The warm surface stones in the soil and the walls themselves play an important role in sustaining maturation through the night, while the balance achieved by the varying aspects is key to this rare wine.

        Graham’s Stone Terraces Vintage Port is only bottled when this vineyard produces an incomparable wine deriving from its unique location and layout; predominantly a single row of vines on each traditional dry stone-walled terrace, and the quality does not necessarily follow the pattern of general Vintage Port declarations.  The Symington family, owners of Graham’s, believe that the 2015 Stone Terraces will age superbly as a remarkable Vintage Port of extraordinary elegance and complexity.

        The first ever Stone Terraces was the 2011 Vintage Port which received exceptional reviews from the international press; 97 points Wine Spectator, 18.5/20 Jancis Robinson and was called ‘a masterpiece’ by leading Portuguese commentator, Manuel Carvalho.

        07.04.2017

        GRAHAM’S VOTED THE WORLD’S MOST ADMIRED PORT BRAND

        The Drinks International magazine has conducted its 6th annual survey of the World’s 50 Most Admired Wine Brands. The jury consists of over 200 leading figures in the wine sector, masters of wine, sommeliers and journalists.

        The 2016 survey has nominated Graham’s as the World’s Most Admired Port Brand and the 14th Most Admired Wine Brand in the world.

        Dow’s Port, also owned and managed by the Symington family, was placed 31 in the World’s 50 Most Admired Wine Brands.

        Other wines in the World’s 50 Most Admired Port Brand include Vega Sicilia, Penfolds, Château d’Yquem, Château Margaux, Guigal, Château Latour, Cloudy Bay, Mateus and Cheval Blanc.

        The Symington family said; ‘We are very proud to have earned this prominent position amongst the best wines in the world. This wonderful endorsement is the result of generations of work in our Douro vineyards and in our caves in Vila Nova de Gaia, as well as to the loyalty and the great skill of the people who work with us in our project of excellence.’

          THE SYMINGTON FAMILY DECLARES THE GRAHAM'S 2011 VINTAGE PORT

          The Symington family is pleased to announce their decision to declare 2011 as a Vintage year. This is only the third Vintage Port declaration for all the Symingtons’ Port companies since 2000. The 2011 Vintage Ports are of an exceptional quality and are expected to age superbly over the coming decades. The weather is the decisive factor in creating outstanding wines in the Douro and the strong winter rains in late 2010 were crucial. April and May 2011 were unusually warm and, combined with some rainfall, resulted in a reduction in the overall production of the region.

          The warm spring encouraged early budburst, flowering and veraison. Similar conditions occurred across most of Europe, leading to predictions of a harvest several weeks before normal. It was clear in the Douro, however, that although the sugars were rising in the berries, the tannins were unripe as there was insufficient humidity in the soil to allow the grapes to fully mature. Only 25 mm of rain fell in May, June and July 2011 compared to the average of 97 mm, so by mid-August the vines were showing signs of stress. On August 21st rain swept in from the west and over the Serra do Marão, and again on the 1st and 2nd September. This beautifully timed rain was perfect for those producers who had the courage to avoid the early rush, and was followed by a succession of fine sunny weeks well into October. The scene was set for the making of superb Ports.

          All of the Symington family’s 2011 Vintage Ports were made in lagares (open treading tanks) and all the grapes came from the family’s own vineyards. Selection has been rigorous and only the finest barrels have been chosen, so the quantity bottled represents a very small proportion of the production of the family vineyards. For example the Graham’s 2011 Vintage Port represents 8,000 cases (9%) out of the potential 88,850 cases produced at the five Graham’s vineyards.


          The Symington family’s substantial investment in the 1980’s is now bearing fruit with vineyards of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, amongst others, now well over 25 years old. These vines are producing superb quality grapes and are invaluable, together with the vineyards of very old mixed vines that were planted by the grandfathers and greatgrandfathers of the current generation. The additional investment in several small specialist wineries, all equipped with lagares, has allowed the family to make Vintage Ports of quite outstanding quality.


          The 2011 Vintage Ports have an exceptional depth of colour and concentration, rarely seen in the Douro and with marked minerality from the schistous Douro soil. The palate has superb balance, with a powerful and rich bitter-chocolate taste, in hand with wild berry fruit, supported by well-structured and schist-edged tannins that will give these wines the traditional longevity for which the great Vintage Ports are so famous.

            BORN IN THE DOURO, RAISED BY THE ATLANTIC: A NEW INTERPRETATION OF AN ANCIENT TRADITION

            Graham’s, the premier marque of Symington Family Estates, leading producer of premium Ports, has re-launched its range of cask-matured Tawny Ports. These wines are founded on the historic arts of blending, cooperage and careful ageing.

            The traditional style of Graham's Tawny Ports has been maintained, using the wines set aside decades ago in the Graham’s 1890 lodge. However, Charles Symington, 4th generation winemaker and blender, has worked to further develop the wines’ secondary flavours, with refined tannins and balance in order to leave the palate fresh, avoiding the excess sweetness that can mark some Tawny Ports. These blending refinements have resulted from the use of some of Graham’s greatest assets: the long-term investment in very substantial stocks of Tawny Ports ageing in the 1890 Lodge, and the use of a large number of seasoned oak casks, many over 100 years old, in which all Graham’s Tawny Ports are aged.

            In an important step, Charles and his cousins have decided to use only wines matured in the Graham’s 1890 Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia and to exclude wines aged in the Douro. This decision was taken after extensive blending trials over recent years. The 1890 Lodge is situated just 3 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean and enjoys naturally moderate annual temperatures compared to the intense summer heat in the Douro Valley. The Atlantic influence has a profound impact and particularly suits the style of Graham’s Tawny Ports.

            As a tribute to the people who help make these wines, the signature of Emílio Correia, Graham’s master cooper is on the 20 Years Old label and that of António Monteiro, Graham’s cellar master, is on the 30 Years Old, both alongside that of Charles Symington, master blender. It is unprecedented in the Port trade for the people that help make the wines to be recognised in this way.
            The new range of Graham’s Tawny Ports is presented in an especially
            commissioned white glass bottle in order to fully appreciate the golden amber colours of classic Tawny Ports.

            The appreciation of these wines has now become an even more rewarding experience. Graham’s and the Symington family strongly encourage consumers to enjoy these great wines lightly chilled and in reasonable sized wine glasses.

              GRAHAM’S SIX GRAPES OLD VINES

              THE DRINKS BUSINESS

              Symington has released a special edition Graham’s Six Grapes Old Vines – Winston Churchill’s favoured Port – to commemorate 100 years of its Six Grapes blend.

              Graham’s Vintage Character Port, the name previously given to Six Grapes by merchants in the UK, was a personal favourite of Sir Winston Churchill with invoices from his wine merchant, Hatch, Mansfield and Co., indicating it was the only brand of Port the politician had ordered throughout his lifetime.

              Made from the very oldest vines on Graham’s Douro vineyards, the Special Edition Six Grapes has been produced from the oldest vines from across Graham’s five Quintas, many of which are over fifty years old.

              The 2011 and 2012 vintages were said to be “outstanding years” in the Douro with wines from both of these harvest used to create Six Grapes Old Vines.

              The Six Grapes symbol has been used to identify Port barrels containing Graham’s very best and vintage wines since the nineteenth century.

              A limited number of Six Grapes Old Vines bottles will be stocked at merchants across the UK including Fenwicks, New Street Wine Shop and Cambridge Wine.

                GRAHAM'S 1890 LODGE HAS ONE OF THE MOST SPECTACULAR WINE SHOPS IN THE WORLD

                VINOPACK

                The well-known Spanish wine enthusiasts website, Vinopack.es, has listed the Graham’s Lodge shop as one of the 12 most spectacular wine shops in the world.

                The list, featuring architecturally diverse spaces from around the world specifically praises the historic lodge, whose renovation was overseen by the architect Luis Loureiro and designer Nuno Gusmão. Their work has been recognised for its minimalist style which has successfully transformed the historic building without losing the authenticity or uniqueness of the space.

                Also mentioned in the list is the fantastic flagship store of the Société des alcools du Québec in Montreal, Vintage Fine Wines in Manhattan, New York, and Altaya Wine’s “Etc” in Hong Kong. It is an honour to see Graham’s Lodge shop and Vila Nova de Gaia among the names of some of the worlds greatest cities.


                The full list can be found at: www.vinopack.es

                You can read more at: blog.grahams-port.com

                  GRAHAM'S 1890 LODGE WINS BEST OF WINE TOURISM 2015

                  Great Wine Capitals

                  W & J Graham’s 1890 Lodge has once again received international accolades. This time from the “Great Wine Capitals”, a network of ten major cities around the world which aims to promote travel, education, and business exchanges between the most prestigious wine regions in the world.

                  The Graham’s Lodge was awarded the “Best of Wine Tourism 2015” in the category of “Wine Tourism Services” for outstanding offerings in the fields of service, innovation, creativity and authenticity.

                  A special mention must be made of the multi-national team of expert guides without whom this award would not have been possible. In constant training with both our viticulture team in the Douro Valley and our wine makers, the staff have first hand knowledge of all aspects of port. Our team is currently comprised of 11 different nationalities: Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Danish, German, and Dutch.

                  The “Best of Wine Tourism” awards are internationally renowned as a celebration of excellence and innovation in worldwide wine tourism. And so it is with great pride that Graham’s receives these honours, as they bear witness to the hard work and effort put into the W & J Graham’s 1890 Lodge since its refurbishment.

                  You can read more on our blog at: blog.grahams-port.com

                    MONOCLE: GRAHAM'S 1890 LODGE & VINUM RESTAURANT

                    MONOCLE

                    "Across the river estuary from Porto is Vila Nova de Gaia, the home of all the large wine lodges. Most organize wine tastings and tours but undoubtedly the best one to visit is Graham's, which is a little removed from the rest and has recently undergone a €2.5 million refurbishment."

                    Printed in www.grahams-port.com

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