2019 Single Quinta Ports from the Symington Family
2019 was an unusually dry year, with half of the normal winter rainfall and very little during the summer. The harvest was one of the longest of all time – over six weeks. Yields were average, 1.27kg per vine. Freshness and liveliness are the watchwords here. There are no Classic Ports declared in this vintage, only Single Quinta Vintage Ports. These are all seriously impressive wines and they would be a remarkable addition to any serious wine cellar.
Note – these are first impression notes, typed during a one-hour presentation by the various members of the family who spoke with great passion and clarity about their wines. This is not edited nor is it fleshed out, so please forgive the incomplete sentences.
From East to West (down the valley)
2019 Cockburn’s, Quinta dos Canais
Extraordinarily perfumed along a red-fruited spectrum including vivid red rose petal notes and more exotic tones, too. This is a spectacular explosion of mulberry, cherry, raspberry and cake spices. On the finish, there is remarkable Syrah-like pepper and this sensation is incredibly refreshing. The finish is extraordinarily long and refined and the tannins are fit, drying and active. There is little or no heat on the finish, indicating a perfectly balanced wine. Thrilling and dynamic this is a glorious red fruit concerto! 19+/20
2019 Graham’s, Quinta dos Malvedos
Malvedos is the cornerstone of Graham’s since 1890. It is named after the incredibly strong rapids which used to coarse past the estate. Much more body than Canais and more obvious velvety juiciness here, too, with coffee bean notes and dried spice details. There is more black fruit here than found in the Cockburn’s wine with minty flashes over a dense blackcurrant core. This is a superbly showy wine with extrovert baked plum notes and perhaps these come from the inclusion of the Stone Terraces fruit (15%) in this blend. 19+/20
2019 Dow’s, Quinta do Bomfim
Underlining the Monopole nature of these Single Quinta wines, Dows has such a clear and precise character it is remarkable. There is serious spice here and a dryer finish than all of the other wines put together. The fruit is not as layered as Graham’s and it is also more closed and more muscular, too, and yet the heartbeat of this wine is slow and thudding and it propels it forwards with incredible intent. The power and longevity of Bomfim is not in doubt and I venture it will be the slowest to evolve and also the longest-lived of the sextet. This is a tour de force for this label. 19.5+/20
2019 Warre’s, Quinta da Cavadinha
High altitude at 440m (some 200m higher than Bomfim) and so this cooler ripening cycle often means that Cavadinha is last to be picked. The vines are still horse ploughed today and this gives it is a certain romantic feel and there is a high degree of field blend fruit in here bringing a kaleidoscopic feel to the palate. Quieter in the glass than the more bombastic wines and gentler and more floral, too. This is a smooth, refined style with an elegant, detailed, lacy feel and the tannins seem cooler and more powdery, too. Forward and fresh this is a sensual creation. 18.5/20
2019 Quinta do Vesuvio
Insanely dark and brooding with a velvety texture that seems almost theatrical in its delivery. There are layers and layers of liquorice, blackcurrant, thyme, coffee, dark chocolate and brûlée all crowding the palate and an indulgent vinous mosh pit ensues. Hectic and yet regal, a maelstrom of decadence and yet hilariously forward at the same time as power-packed and able to stay the course. This is a delicious and confusing wine that can’t quite make up its mind if it is the real deal or just a little bit of a showman, but I love it anyway! 18.5+/20
2019 Dow’s, Quinta Senhora da Ribeira
Part of the Dow stable, along with Bomfim, this is a staggeringly serious wine with a mind-blowing counterpoint between the piercing perfume and the lusty depth on the back of the palate. The nose shows you how this wine will develop but the palate warns you off, snarling and pawing at the glorious dirt in this dramatic vineyard. Overtly tannic and hard, but with so much potential and so much grace it is astounding. The sky is the limit for this thrilling wine. 19.5+/20