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.
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
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
Winemaker Henry Shotton was very happy with the quality of the
grapes coming in.
Year Old Tawny Port Nicely rounded, spicy and raisiny with some fruit but also
lovely spicy, woody, raisiny notes. Very sweet style. 90/100
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
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
Late Bottled Vintage 2006 Fresh, sweet and intense with a brilliant core of fruit.
Attractive stuff that over-delivers. 90/100
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
Crusted Port 2001 Fresh, fruity and a bit minty with nice texture. Smooth, ripe
and balanced with some mellow, evolved characters and sweet fruit.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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