After several years of trial and error, the Symington Family Estates has launched two brand new Douro wines and they’ve just arrived in the USA.
I have had some of the earlier “trial” vintages, and the 2006 precursor was stunning in my opinion, but I understand the reason for waiting to release these and having recently tasted both of these wines, I can assure you … it was worth the wait. Rupert Symington mentioned, “… only now do we think we have a wine worthy of the estate’s reputation.”
The Symington’s purchased Quinta do Vesuvio in 1989 and have more than quadrupled the number of vines on the property from around 90,000 vines initially, to nearly 390,000 today. Rupert adds, “Alongside some of the very low yielding existing single varietal plantings (which date back to the early 1970’s and are amongst the oldest in the Douro) we have added significant newer plantings of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, the largest such vineyard parcel being in the ‘Quinta Nova’ at between 350 and 500 metres of elevation.”
“We have been experimenting for some years now with fermentations of small single varietal batches from around the Quinta, and have settled on what we think is a highly successful formula, using Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and a small amount of the low yielding old vine Tinta Amarela. We have identified certain parcels of the estate which are picked slightly earlier than the main Port harvest to ensure greater freshness of fruit." Rupert explains further, “In 2007 everything came together from a weather point of view, and allowed us to pick perfectly ripe grapes without any raisining. These were hand sorted by bunch, de-stemmed and again hand sorted by berry. Our new gravity fermenters at Sol were used and we allowed the wines over three weeks of skin contact. The wines were then aged for ten months in new French oak barrels from Taransaud and Boutes.”
Symington continues, “The Quinta do Vesuvio has rather more Touriga Nacional (70%) to Touriga Franca (20%) while Pombal has more Touriga Franca (60%) to Touriga Nacional (30%). Both have 10% Tinta Amarela. Pombal do Vesuvio takes its name from the dovecote next to one of the main vineyard parcels that we have assigned exclusively to DOC wines.”
Production of the 2007 Quinta do Vesuvio was about 12,000 bottles, while the Pombal do Vesuvio was around 26,000 bottles. That’s quite a reasonable release for a debut vintage from one of the Douro’s most prestigious properties.
Here are my recent tasting notes on these two new wines. I spoke with the importer today and both wines have recently arrived in the USA, so the timing is right to provide you with these impressions:
2007 Quinta do Vesuvio Pombal do Vesuvio DOC Douro Red wine – The baby brother to the Vesuvio release, this is no wall flower. Stuffed with earthy notes of leather and dark black cherry fruit, it proffers a distinctly drier profile than its sibling. With a fine palate presence that is sumptuous and immediately approachable, the blackberry and well integrated gentle hints of oak are not only food friendly, but will make for a solid sipping wine. The old vine blends used in this distinctive Douro effort show greater structural components the 2nd day it was open and it drank with even more verve and body weight. With a couple of hours in decanter, this can be enjoyed today but there’s no question that it will improve over the next decade, so put a few bottles out of reach for at least a few years. 92+ points (9/29/09)
2007 Quinta do Vesuvio DOC Douro Red wine – Decanted 2.5 hours in advance, which helped to deliver aromatic profundity with briary scents, cocoa bean, ripe raspberry fruit and a wonderful interplay between black licorice and vanilla spice. This really needs air time and I urge you to decant this Douro red. The Vesuvio delivers the impression of a wine with considerably more age and finesse, yet on the contrarian side, it truly shows the character of a beautifully young and evocative wine. An explosive entry of concentrated wild berries offers a smooth and sensuous texture with fine, round tannins that appear to gain grip as the wine continues to evolve. I left some to evaluate (and enjoy) for a 2nd day and it appeared to gain a lovely cassis profile and further overall symmetry. Sublime and a gorgeous youngster that will improve in cellar for at least the next 15 years. An outstanding debut by the Symington’s whose 2006 version of the Vesuvio was absolutely good enough to release a year ago, but they were wise to wait. 95+ points (9/29/09)