Announcing two forthcoming 2018 En Primeur Single Quinta Port Releases from the Symington Family

The Symingtons have produced small quantities of Vintage Port from six of their principal properties in 2018 and two will be released En Primeur imminently

The official blurb

The 2018 Single Quinta Vintage Ports are the result of a rollercoaster growing season – with a prolonged winter drought, a deluge in spring, and heatwaves through the final ripening period.  Despite the challenges, the 2018 wines are characterised by a well-defined acidity and marked freshness, reflecting the characteristics of specific parcels of vineyard within each estate.  The star of the year was the late-maturing Touriga Franca, which excelled in the warm harvest.  Yields were extremely low with just 950g per vine – 11% below the 10-year average from the Symington vineyards – resulting in wines with stunning concentration.

The Symingtons have selected two wines to release En Primeur in 2020 – Quinta do Vesuvio and Dow’s Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira.  Both are situated in the Douro Superior on opposite sides of the river, one north-facing, the other south-facing.  These estates delivered unique expressions of the lifted aromas that characterise the year.  The other Quinta Vintage Ports produced in 2018 – Quinta dos Malvedos, Quinta do Bomfim, Quinta da Cavadinha and Quinta dos Canais – will age in the Symington cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia for future release.

Following last year’s first-ever, back-to-back Vintage Port declaration (2016 and 2017 were both ‘general declarations’), Charles Symington, fourth-generation winemaker, commented, “each spring we taste the best young Ports from each of our top Quintas from the harvest of 18 months before.  This is the starting point from which we review each year’s Vintage Port potential and, from there, decide what to release, be it a super-blend from each of our Port houses’ principal estates – which we call a “general declaration” – or, as was the case in 2018, as the ultimate expression of Douro terroir as individual Single Quinta Vintage Ports. These exciting young Vintage Ports represent the absolute pinnacle of the year’s production – vinified on-site in small batches in our specialist wineries – and I believe they will provide fantastic drinking for many decades to come.”

Bottling now for immediate release En Primeur –

2018 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – 965 cases (3% of the estate’s production)

2018 Dow’s – Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira Vintage Port – 510 cases (8% of the estate’s production)

Bottling now for ageing and future release –

2018 Graham’s – Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port

2018 Dow’s – Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port

2018 Warre’s – Quinta da Cavadinha Vintage Port

2018 Cockburn’s – Quinta dos Canais Vintage Port

My notes, thoughts and scores on the two wines

2018 Quinta do Veusvio Vintage Port

Blend – 54% Touriga Nacional, 40% Touriga Franca & Alicante Bouschet (co-fermented) and 6% Sousão

ABV – 20%

Total acidity – 3.96 g/l

Baumé – 3.60

Bottled – June 2020 (no filtration)

Winemakers – Charles Symington & Bernardo Nápoles

While Charles Symington and the family concluded that the overall quality of the vintage was not sufficient for a blanket declaration it is clear that very small quantities of top wines from their various estates are thrillingly concentrated and utterly delicious and so these Single Quinta Vintage Ports will represent 2018 very strongly indeed.  I can sense that legions of parents with new-born babies will breathe a collective sigh of relief.  2018 Quinta do Vesuvio is superbly aromatic and perfumed with tender, juicy, black-fruited tones augmented with spiciness, mintiness, woodsmoke and masses of energy.  There is always a wildness and savagery which I adore in Vesuvio and these traits are heightened in 2018.  But while these flamboyant notes are eye-catching, the fruit still holds court and it presents a seemingly forward and uncommonly appealing wine.  Less muscular and more pliable than expected this immediacy is both alluring and attractive.  With less grunt and more suave, honed fruit, this is more a gentleman rogue than Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man.  Forward and thoroughly alluring this is a delicious wine which will flatter in its youth but I know it has the power and poise to run, hence the ‘+’ in my score, and I don’t doubt that it will make the 30-year mark with ease.  18.5+/20 (Drink 2028 – 2050)

2018 Dow’s Quinta Senhora da Ribeira Vintage Port

Blend – 45% Touriga Franca, 40% Touriga Nacional, 15% Alicante Bouschet & Sousão (co-fermented)

ABV – 20%

Total acidity – 3.73 g/l

Baumé – 3.30

Bottled – June 2020 (no filtration)

Winemakers – Charles Symington & Ricardo Carvalho

This property contributes approximately 25% of the wine to Dow’s Vintage Port while Quinta do Bomfim usually sits the 60% mark.  Senhora da Ribeira is thought of as the aromatic high notes while Bomfim is the heart, so it is interesting to bear this in mind while tasting this wine.  Firstly, this could not be a more different proposition to Vesuvio.  Plum and mulberry fruit abounds and this is a seriously exotic and perfumed wine with violet and mint notes.  It is red to Vesuvio’s black.  It is buttoned up as opposed to expansive and the co-fermented Sousão and Alicante Bouschet bring freshness and vivacity to the whole making it a more piercing wine than Vesuvio’s blanket of dark fruit flavours.  This effect also appears to heighten the spice and oak elements, and while there is no doubt that Vesuvio has these elements in spades, Senhora da Ribeira wears them like filigree on a lustrous cape as opposed to burying them deep into her soul.  Pure, punchy, expressive and a few shades lighter in both colour and tone than Vesuvio this is certainly a more classically shaped wine.  While I am a sucker for Vesuvio’s expressive ‘night sky’ of flavour, there is undoubtedly a fascination building for the Senhora’s ‘breaking dawn’.  18+/20 (Drink 2030 – 2055)

Final note

While I first tasted these wines on a Zoom conference with the Symington family and other commentators, I set the bottles aside and tasted them on a further ten occasions over the following few days.  Both wines maintained their focus and control, with neither opening up too much nor running out of stamina.  Quite the opposite – they both continued to blossom and build on their own quite distinct characters.  These are superb releases and I urge you to let your merchant know if you would like to buy these wines because they are in very short supply.  I am releasing my notes ahead of time to allow you to prepare.

Prices and availability

I understand that the following wine merchants, among others, will sell these wines in due course and the RRPs (approximate) will be –  2018 Dow’s Quinta Senhora da Ribeira Vintage Port £120.00, 3 x 75cl bottles under bond; 2018 Quinta do Veusvio Vintage Port £270.00, 6 x 75cl bottles under bond.

The Wine Societywww.thewinesociety.com

Tanners Wine Merchantswww.tanners-wines.co.uk

Vintage Wine and Portwww.vinttagewineandport.co.uk

Berry Bros. & Ruddwww.bbr.com

Farr Vintnerswww.farrvintners.com