Tasting of Single Quinta Ports from the Symingtons 2006 - 1950

This tasting of single Quinta vintage Ports was organised by the Symingtons to showcase wines from their family estates back to the 1950s. It includes wines from the ex-Cockburn properties bought by the Symingtons in 2006, many of which were on show for the first time. The tasting began with a horizontal of 2006s from all the estates followed by wines from a number of family properties dating back to 1950. I found a series of very well made high-scoring wines with the differences in marks among the horizontal of 2006s is determined more by my personal preferences than any major qualitative difference in the wines. The character of each of the different quintas shows through and, where relevant I have added background notes on the vintages.  

Graham Quinta dos Malvedos 2006 ****

Very good deep colour; big, ripe heady aromas with rich dusty tannins underlying, still wild and headstrong; very rich, sweet and fleshy in Graham style (3.8 baumé), liquorice, mouthfilling ripe tannins, opulent all the way through to the finish, rich yet well-defined. Very promising – for drinking in another ten years. 17

Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim 2006 ****

Very similar in colour but slightly less crimson on the rim; closed-in on itself with a suggestion of  heat (burnt rubber) on the nose, heat very evident; rich and quite fleshy for Dow (3.3 baumé), firm peppery tannins leading to a big peppery finish. Very impressive. Needs more time to show at its best. Drink in 15 years. 17.5

Warre Quinta da Cavadinha 2006 ****

Very deep, opaque colour; lovely pure berry fruit aromas, mountain fruit character; soft and sweet initially with that lovely purity showing through again on the palate and a touch of bitter chocolate concentration, considerable finesse here (from relatively late-picked fruit) yet quite powerful on the finish with berry fruit all the way through . 17

Graham Quinta do Tua 2006 *** / ****

Bought by the Symingtons in 2006, this ex-Cockburn property has been re-branded ‘Graham’. A thousand cases of this wine were made in robotic lagares at Quinta dos Malvedos: very, very deep and opaque in colour, crimson rim; lovely aroma, restrained and pure, ‘violets’ evident from the 24% of Touriga Nacional that make up the blend; similarly pure peppery blackcurrant fruit on the palate, firm, dense tannins, leaner than some of the others but leading through to a fresh, pure finish. Lovely now but better in a decade. 16.5 +?

Dow Quinta Senhora da Ribeira 2006 ****

Deep, opaque; lovely rich, dark chocolate aromas, open and opulent, floral (Touriga Nacional very evident), with minty ripeness; initially this seems very rich and sweet for Dow (a characteristic of this vintage perhaps), fleshy and opulent with a big tannic backbone and bitter-sweet length. Impressive for the medium to long term. 18

Cockburn Quinta dos Canais 2006 ***

From the flagship Cockburn quinta which was extensively replanted in the early 1990s. Just 350 cases made at Sra. da Ribeira as an experiment, none of which will be put on sale: deep opaque and dense, rich and ripe but still closed on the nose; very full, sweet and rich, fleshy and quite opulent initially with a touch of mint and eucalyptus (esteva), firm tannic finish and overall quite suave. Lacking the weight of its peers but good middle distance wine for drinking within 10 years. 16

Quinta do Vesúvio 2006 ****

Deep and opaque in colour; very opulent, floral with minty ripeness, overt and heady; similarly sweet, rich and opulent on the palate (3.7 baumé) but backed by dense, gritty textural tannins which rise in the mouth, sweetness and opulence returning on the finish. Lovely texture and length. Drink in ten years and for another twenty years beyond that.   18

Graham Quinta dos Malvedos 1999 ****

Good, mid-deep colour, still nearly opaque; lovely open floral fruit with a touch of esteva (gum cistus), classic; sweet, minty ripeness with a touch of dark chocolate at the core, already quite suave with a peppery finish, not especially big or structured but lovely to drink now and over the next ten years. 17

Dow Quinta do Bomfim 1999 ****

Paler and showing more maturity on the rim, starting to brown; closed, not showing very well on the nose, perhaps still to emerge from its adolescent phase, just a hint of violets; much more expressive on the palate, fine linear fruit, well-knit with lovely purity showing through mid-palate, firm tannins. Not big but charming. Ready now throught to 2020 + 17

Dow Quinta Senhora da Ribeira 1998 *****

Still very deep and youthful, opaque; not very expressive on the nose, closed, sullen (just a phase I suspect); fine, dense and tight-knit, some flesh yet with characteristic Dow austerity (2.95 baumé), dark chocolate core and cast-iron tannins, overall big and solid with a fabulous, explosive finish. Top notch single estate Port.  19

Quinta do Vesuvio 1998 ****

Similarly deep and opaque; slightly more open and opulent on the nose, mint and eucalypt ripeness showing; soft and fleshy with lovely purity and sweetness backed by good grippy tannins mid-palate, tails off on the finish leaving pure berry fruit. 17.5

Warre Quinta da Cavadinha 1996 ***

Mid-deep maturing colour; evolved, truffley and slightly soupy on the nose (lacking definition); rich soft and quite loose-knit in style, especially alongside the 1998s, quite big and round, fully ready to drink and not a long-term keeper. 15.5

Graham Quinta dos Malvedos 1979 ****

Brick red centre, amber rim; fine, mature, open floral character, very beautiful on the palate, soft and fleshy with milk chocolate depth and length. Really lovely now but not one to keep for any length of time.  17

Dow Quinta do Bomfim 1979 ***

More youthful in appearance than the Malvedos; fine and focused yet gentle on the nose, dry and lacking some fruit both the nose and on the palate, now starting to look a bit frail, peppery tannic backbone leading to a rather austere finish. Good now but drying out. Drink in the next 5 years. 16

Warre Quinta da Cavadinha 1979 ****

Brick red centre, broad amber rim; fine, perfumed, nicely evolved floral, esteva (gum cistus) aromas, open but possibly with a bit more to give; soft, sweet and fully mature, beautifully balanced cherry fruit. To be enjoyed now. 17

Graham Quinta dos Malvedos 1965 ***

Mature brick red to amber colour; open but looking dry and fragile with a touch of roasted coffee bean on the palate, characteristic of a very hot, dry year, roasted nuts too with affinity to an old tawny, fine and delicate, still sweet but drying towards the finish. 16

Dow Quinta do Bomfim 1965 ****

Slightly darker and blacker in hue than the Malvedos; scented but seemingly hollow on the nose and a touch roasted; firm and dry in the Dow style, powerful tannins retaining the purity of fruit at its core, big. peppery tannins lingering on to the finish. 17.5

Graham Quinta dos Malvedos 1958 ****

Now very pale pink-to-amber; fine, delicate, more than a touch of tawny character (more so than vintage) with almonds and a soft creamy element to the nose and palate, very elegant and linear, sweet fruit backed by peppery tannins, still fresh and expressive on the finish, long and delightful. 17

Graham Quinta dos Malvedos 1950 **** / *****

Excellent colour for a wine now 61 years old, pink centre with a thin browning rim; seemingly quite dry on the nose, a lovely rose petal scent with an underlying vestige of chocolatey intensity still evident; fine, delicate, still firm and very much alive with a stream of freshness running all the way through, delicate sweetness and supremely elegant on the finish. 18.5

Location: Chandos House, London

Scoring

19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty