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Douro Table wines from the Symingtons: Altano, Chryseia and Roriz

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

British Port giant the Symington group, who own the well known Port houses Grahams, Warre and Dows among others, turned their sights on Douro table wines a few years back with the affordable Altano, and the more ambitious premium wine Chryseia, a joint venture with Bruno Prats. Also in their portfolio is Quinta de Roriz, which is another joint venture – the Quinta is owned by João van Zeller

Altano has disappointed in the past: it’s been a bit anonymous. Yes, it’s a cheap wine, retailing at £4.99, but if it doesn’t display any real Douro character, what’s the point? Fortunately, 2005 is much better than previous vintages, and I’d recommend this as a value-for-money introduction to Douro table wines.

Chryseia was first made in 2000, and wasn’t made in 2002: I found 2000, 2001 and 2003 good in a certain style of wine, although I don’t really like the extremely ripe, ‘international’ style that I felt they fell into. With 2004 and 2005 it seems there’s a bit more restraint, and a touch less sweetness, which makes them taste more like I’d expect a Douro wine to – I reckon they’re better for it. The 2005 tasted here is a very nice wine.

Roriz has been on form from the beginning, offering a lovely, forward, ripe modern style of Douro wine, and with second wine Prazo one of the Douro’s best value reds. Again, they tend to the riper, sweeter end of the fruit spectrum, but they’re not over the top.

Altano 2005 Douro
Fresh, spicy nose is nicely savoury. The palate is quite rich and mouthfilling, with a rounded, spicy character and good definition. This is much better than previous vintages of Altano. 86/100 (UK retail c. £5)

Prazo de Roriz 2005 Douro
Sweet, ripe, open spicy nose is quite lush with a sweet herbiness. It’s a bit ‘dusty’, but in a nice way. The ripe, lush palate has nice spicy definition to the generous fruit. Really nice wine. 88/100 (UK retail c. £8)

Quinta de Roriz Reserva 2003 Douro
Lush, ripe, nicely defined nose is really full and intense. Quite rich and bold: ripe, a bit porty. The palate has a bit of freshness to the very ripe, dense fruit, with nice acidity backing up the firm bright tannins which support the fat, bold fruit. 91/100

Postscriptum de Chryseia 2005 Douro
Smooth, ripe dark fruits nose is quite lush and ripe with a bit of definition. The palate is fresh and bright with lovely seamless, ripe dark fruits and some structure. Very nicely judged. 90/100

Chryseia 2005 Douro
Lovely dark, intense, rich spicy nose shows nice aromatics and good definition, despite the richness of the fruit. The palate is spicy and dense, in a very ripe, almost ‘new world’ style with sweet dark fruit. But it tastes of the Douro, still. Very sophisticated. 93/100

See an earlier review of the wines of the Symingtons

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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