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News

SYMINGTON FAMILY DECLARES THE 2017 VINTAGE PORT

WE ARE PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE 2017 AS A CLASSIC VINTAGE PORT YEAR, MAKING THIS OUR FIRST EVER 'BACK-TO-BACK' GENERAL DECLARATION SINCE ANDREW JAMES SYMINGTON ARRIVED IN PORTO IN 1882.

The announcement - only the sixth declaration of the 21st century - concludes a period of intense discussion within the wine trade as to whether 2017 would warrant a full declaration, given the quality of the critically acclaimed 2016 Vintage Ports and the rarity of declarations. The first consecutive declaration by our family is a milestone moment in our long history and is the result of two very different but extremely high-quality years for port in the Douro.

The 2017 wines were the result of an advanced growing cycle which led to the earliest harvest ever recorded in our family’s 137-year history as winemakers and port producers. Warmer, drier conditions than usual resulted in small, compact bunches of grapes in excellent condition, with yields amongst the lowest of the century so far, 20% below the 10-year average.

Despite the harvest beginning in August, the maturations were perfectly balanced, resulting in wines characterised by extraordinary intensity, concentration and structure, combined with stunning aromas and freshness.

We have produced 2017 Vintage Ports from across our flagship Douro Quintas, and will shortly be offering limited quantities (by allocation en primeur) of Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s and Cockburn’s as well as Quinta do Vesuvio, Graham’s The Stone Terraces and Capela da Quinta do Vesuvio. The 2017 is just the fourth release of the latter two, which are only produced in truly exceptional years. Given the very low-yielding year, the 2017 Vintage Port is the smallest Symington declaration of the 21st century.

 

GRAHAM'S 1890 LODGE WINS BEST OF WINE TOURISM 2015

W & J Graham’s 1890 Lodge has once again received international accolades. This time from the “Great Wine Capitals”, a network of ten major cities around the world which aims to promote travel, education, and business exchanges between the most prestigious wine regions in the world.

The Graham’s Lodge was awarded the “Best of Wine Tourism 2015” in the category of “Wine Tourism Services” for outstanding offerings in the fields of service, innovation, creativity and authenticity.

A special mention must be made of the multi-national team of expert guides without whom this award would not have been possible. In constant training with both our viticulture team in the Douro Valley and our wine makers, the staff have first hand knowledge of all aspects of port. Our team is currently comprised of 11 different nationalities: Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Danish, German, and Dutch.

The “Best of Wine Tourism” awards are internationally renowned as a celebration of excellence and innovation in worldwide wine tourism. And so it is with great pride that Graham’s receives these honours, as they bear witness to the hard work and effort put into the W & J Graham’s 1890 Lodge since its refurbishment.

 

 

AMONGST THOUSANDS OF CASKS AT GRAHAM’S... ...three were set apart... These three hold a wine that is over a hundred and thirty years old, dating from the time Andrew James Symington came to Portugal to work for W. & J. Graham ́s in 1882.Of these three casks, the family has decided to draw-off and bottle one cask of this wine. The remaining two casks will be bequeathed to the next generation of the Symington family and will remain undisturbed for at least another decade. The family have named this wine after the original Graham’s family motto: ‘Ne Oublie’ – Do Not Forget.

 

 

THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF GENERATIONS of craftsmen come together in this venerable Port. Scottish, English and Portuguese blood runs in the veins of our family; therefore, we decided that Ne Oublie should be the co-creation of artisans from these three countries.The Wine. The fruit of the Douro Valley from the late nineteenth century has mellowed for over a hundred and thirty years, first in the wild mountains of the Douro and then in the temperate maritime climate of Northern Portugal’s Atlantic coast. There is nowhere else in the world where such a wine could be made. The Ne Oublie Port has been tended by generations of Winemakers, Cellar Masters and Coopers in the Graham’s Lodge. A wine of this age will mature idiosyncratically and only a deep knowledge of its character can ensure that it continues well into a perfectly balanced old age. The knowledge required to care for this ancestral Port has been handed down from father to son through four generations.

The Crystal Decanter

Each of our 656 individually numbered decanters has been handmade in blown crystal glass by world-renowned Portuguese glassmakers Atlantis. In our cellars we have ancient wine bottles of varying shapes and inspired by the beauty of these old bottles, we chose the classic bulb form typical of nineteenth century bottles for the Ne Oublie decanter.

The Silver

In Penicuik, a small town near Edinburgh are Scottish silversmiths Hayward & Stott, whose artisans have shaped, formed and engraved the finest silver neck collars and the coasters of the Ne Oublie decanter. The Silver produced by the company's craftsmen is known for being some of the finest and purest in the world guaranteed by the historic Edinburgh Assay hallmarks applied to each piece of silver adorning the Ne Oublie decanter.

The Case

In 1887, Frank Smythson opened his first luxury leather goods boutique on Bond Street, London. Over 125 years later, Smythson of Bond Street still adheres to the same peerless craftsmanship Frank himself practised. Exclusively designed for Ne Oublie, the case has been handmade by a highly skilled artisan in luminous calf leather and soft nubuck. Both historically renowned, Smythson’s craftsmanship is befitting to a wine of this rarity, making this a true partnership of two luxury houses.

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History

The story of two families across three centuries. For almost two hundred years W & J Graham’s has been an independent family business renowned for producing the finest Port wines. Graham’s has always been a pioneer. Graham's was one of the first Port companies to invest in its own vineyards in Portugal’s Douro Valley in 1890 and is now at the cutting edge of innovation in winemaking techniques. Today, five Symington cousins share responsibility for every aspect of the company and personally make the Graham’s wines. They too have been involved with Port and the Douro for many generations, with ancestry dating back to the mid-17th century.

William and John Graham founded their firm in Porto in northwest Portugal to trade in textiles. In 1820 they accepted twenty-seven barrels of Port as payment of a debt. The two brothers decided then to devote their energies to making the best Port wines from the Douro Valley: and so the Graham’s Port house was born. The Graham family already had extensive business interests overseas, both in their native Scotland and in India. They were considered by one contemporary historian to be, ‘among the merchant princes of Great Britain’.

The Symington family has had connections to W & J Graham’s since 1882 when the young Scottish businessman, Andrew James Symington, came to Porto to work for the company. In 1891 he married Beatrice de Leitão de Carvalhosa Atkinson, whose ancestors has been involved in the Port trade since the 17th century.

When Andrew James, known to everyone as AJ, first visited the Douro Valley he was spell-bound. This began a dedication to Port and the Douro that has not diminished in over five generations of Symingtons. He passed this passion onto his sons and so did they to theirs; and so the legacy of this family of wine-producers continues.

Graham’s substantial investment in their wines at the end of the nineteenth century, through the purchase of property in the Douro and in Vila Nova de Gaia, produced a succession of superb Graham’s Vintages, which have become landmarks in the history of Port. Some of the most famous Vintages from early last century include 1908, 1912, 1924 and 1927.

Graham’s first harvest under the ownership of the Symington family was extremely auspicious, with Graham’s 1970 Vintage Port being declared. The 1970 is thought by many to be one of the greatest wines of that century. Nearly an hundred years after their ancestor AJ Symington left Graham’s to set up on his own as a Port producer, the family’s relationship with this Port house came full circle. Besides the family’s other Port marques, Graham’s is the only remaining British Port company independently owned by a single family. This ensures that every aspect in the making of Graham’s Ports is controlled and cared for intimately.

Under the management of the Symington family, Graham’s continues to be a pioneer, balancing the best of tradition with the latest technology in pursuit of their mission: to make the finest Port possible. In recent years the Symington family has invested significantly in Graham’s vineyards in the Douro. They have also installed some of the world’s most sophisticated winemaking equipment in the centuries-old winery at Quinta dos Malvedos. The quality of Graham’s viticulture and vinification has never been better.

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Vineyards

The Douro: a terroir like no other - The Douro is perhaps the most challenging wine-growing region on earth. Its mountainous terrain and steep, winding valleys create a kaleidoscope of microclimates, each producing unique wines. The result is great complexity and balance.

Graham’s owns five mountainous vineyards, which are located in different parts of the best wine-growing areas of the Douro region. Each property has the maximum ‘A’ grade classification. Much of the original wild flora has been left deliberately undisturbed amongst the vines on these estates to preserve the indigenous biodiversity, which Graham’s believes contributes to making wines with a more unique and powerful expression of this terroir.

As you leave Porto, heading east up the River Douro you pass through the Marão range, which rises to 1,400 metres from the coastal plains. On the other side of these mountains you enter a different climate. Protected from the influence of the Atlantic Ocean this region (known as Trás-os-Montes, or ‘Behind the Mountains’) becomes increasingly Mediterranean. The temperatures in the Douro valley fall below freezing in winter and consistently climb above 35°C in summer.

These harsh conditions are in fact ideal for making wines of great power and concentration. Each year the vines face a struggle against the elements and competing vegetation. Most years they triumph, producing tight bunches of small, thick-skinned grapes, packed with flavour and ripened to perfection.

The Douro is divided into three sub-regions, different in terms of their rainfall, soil composition and general topography. These are the Baixo Corgo, the Cima Corgo and the Douro Superior: the latter two being the most important for the production of the finest quality Ports. The Douro is also home to indigenous grape varieties, whose characteristic intensity and resilience make them integral to the production of Port. There are 116 varieties (49 white and 67 red) officially permitted by the Douro and Port Wine Institute (Instituto do Vinho do Porto e do Douro, IVDP), although in fact only a small proportion of these are widely cultivated.

Much of the Douro is extremely inaccessible and vineyards have to be carved out of the steep mountainsides. For centuries, dry-stone walled-terraces have been constructed by hand: some of these mountain vineyards are so steep that each terraceholds just one row of vines. These ancient terraces remain a dramatic and beautiful feature of the Douro landscape and contributed to its designation as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.

 

As you approach Malvedos, either by road or river, the ancient Stone Terraces, known as Port Arthur, rise majestically above you like sentinels standing over the valley. This is the original Graham’s Quinta and is recognized as one of the finest estates in the Douro.

The house at Malvedos is situated on a spectacular ridge surveying the river and the terraced vineyards that surround it. The entire property's 89.2 hectares of vineyards hold the maximum ‘A’ grade classification. Situated on the North bank of the Douro River, the vineyards are predominantly South-facing, which makes for rich and ripe wines.

Touriga Franca is the principle grape variety planted at Malvedos. Its thick-skinned berries thrive in the hot, dry conditions of the Upper Douro Valley. A year when the Touriga Franca ripens perfectly is almost always a year when exceptional Vintage Ports are made.

The iconic Touriga Nacional is the second most prevalent variety at Malvedos. This is a low-yielding variety, whose grapes are, as a result, small, dark-blue and intensely aromatic. The story of the Touriga Nacional grape variety is perhaps the greatest success story of the Douro Valley and it began largely in the neighbouring vineyards, Graham's own Quinta do Tua.

The wines from Malvedos form the backbone of Graham’s renowned Vintage Ports, while in most interim years they are bottled as the Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port.

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Winemaking

WINEMAKING :Crafting one of life’s great traditions - In its continued pursuit of excellence, Graham’s combines the best of tradition with innovation. Cutting-edge methods of viticulture and vinification are continually being developed by the Graham’s team, improving the quality of the wines and the sustainable, minimal interventionist management of the vineyards.

VITICULTURE: The Symington family is firmly committed to innovation, and over the last decade Graham’s has conducted substantial viticultural research to optimise fruit quality, minimise intervention in the vineyards and reduce erosion (a perennial concern in these mountain vineyards).

Graham’s has also, over the last few decades, been investigating a plethora of other factors, amongst them the relationship between grape varieties and rootstocks; the effects of pruning; clonal evaluation; organic winemaking; and minimal interventionist agriculture.

Graham’s has seven hectares of organic vineyard at Quinta das Lages, in which only natural weed control and soil management techniques are used. Over the next few years, another vineyard plot at Quinta dos Malvedos will also achieve organic certification.

VINIFICATION: Graham’s continues to make some of its Ports by traditional treading in stone lagares (shallow treading tanks). But with manpower becoming an increasingly scarce resource in the Douro, the winemaking team has pioneered a groundbreaking method for treading the grapes. At Quinta dos Malvedos the world’s first modern lagares operate alongside the traditional ones.

The wines produced over the last few years using this innovative process have performed at least as well as, and often better than, traditionally-made wines in the most prestigious international tasting competitions. These modern lagares have thus proved a landmark in winemaking in the Douro valley and have advanced Graham’s mission of making wines of the highest possible quality.

 

Experience and tradition spanning three centuries have given Graham’s strong values, which are at the heart of the company’s philosophy today.The original Graham family motto, ‘Do Not Forget’, guides everything the company does. It speaks of a commitment to the Douro region born from a respect for the past and confidence in the future.

Graham’s is an entirely independent family-owned company. The whole wine-making process, from the vine to the bottle, is therefore personally overseen and guaranteed. Tradition, experience and knowledge are passed from generation to generation; and innovation is embraced, in the continued pursuit of excellence.

Graham’s owns some of the highest quality vineyards in the Douro Valley, only using grapes from these properties in its Ports. Graham’s Winemaker personally follows the progress of each wine, carefully tasting, blending and selecting which wines to bottle or to mature, in a tradition initiated over a century ago. The Art of Cooperage is essential to the making of great Port, so Graham’s uniquely retains its own dedicated team of Coopers. And the Cellar Master personally guarantees the ideal conditions for ageing in the Graham’s 1890 Lodge.

 

 

 

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Inside information

Port wine likes to rest in seasoned wood…It is difficult to teach the art of caring for this wine because it only comes with years of experience. When I came to the family cooperage as a young apprentice the Master Cooper showed me these three casks. Now I try to pass this knowledge down to the young coopers that work with me.

Emílio Correia, Graham’s Master Cooper

Quinta dos Malvedos is like no other property in the Douro. It has consistently lower yields than other vineyards in the valley, producing wines with phenomenal richness and capacity to age.
It is a magical place!

Henry Shotton, Graham’s Winemaker, and the Winemaking team at Quinta dos Malvedos

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12 different wines with 73 vintages

Highlights

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Axel Probst/BWW2022 - Best Port Wine Ctitic of the World, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  3 wines  from  Graham's . In a tasting of  8 wines 

QUINTA DO NOVAL VINTAGE PORT NACIONAL 1963 – This is the Vintage Port which most people would like to take to their lonely island. High-scores everywhere and so much life ahead that it almost frightens you: The colour is easily 10-20 years younger of what you would expect. Deep, dark-red colour with lots of reflections. Perfectly balanced bouquet with finesse and intensity. Long and multi-layered aftertaste. Tasted last year at the Quinta. Port-Heaven! 100

7m 11d ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  5 wines  from  Graham's . In a tasting of  35 wines 

2015 Heitz Cellar Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon / Ruby. Blackberries, anise, some spices, liquorice, vanilla, detailed and layered, stunning nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, dark fruits, anise, some spices, detailed, layered and intense, rich, dense yet bright. Minty and long. 96

10m 16d ago

 Graham's  has updated producer and wine information

1y 1m ago

 Linnea Berthelsen/Sommelier, Pro (Netherlands)  tasted  1 wines  from  Graham's . In a tasting of  13 wines 

Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port 2017/ Displays fabulous concentration and complex character with it's layers of very sweet fruit, chocolate and cherry aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins. Long finish with plenty of grip. Beautiful and impressive wine -100 points

1y 2m ago

 Andre Brattland, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  2 wines  from  Graham's . In a tasting of  29 wines 

Some of the best wines tasted 2019-2021

1y 3m ago

 Stephen Tanzer, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  3 wines  from  Graham's . In a tasting of  24 wines 

Quinta do Noval Nacional 2003 / Deep ruby. Knockout nose offers wonderful lift and verve, with distinctly vinous aromas of cassis, medicinal black cherry, licorice, pepper, violet, bitter chocolate and fresh herbs (Vosne-Romanee?). Wonderfully suave and understated on entry, then gripping and precise in the middle palate, and not at all overly sweet. Strong acids and a floral note of lavender contribute to the impression of lift in the mouth. As much great wine as it is great port, with a structure of steel. This showed even greater precision and spine with extended aeration. It will be interesting to taste this and the Fonseca side by side in 20 years, but of course these are two markedly different styles. 96+

1y 5m ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  7 wines  from  Graham's . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Graham's Vintage Port 1970 / 20 points /Fulllish colour, just about mature. Full, firm nose. Still undeveloped. Still a bit closed. The complete wine. Fullish, just about ready. Real depth. Excellent depth. Excellent complex fruit. Delicious.

1y 6m ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Graham's . In a tasting of  8 wines 

The Napa Red lineup from 1991 to 2018 showed once again the greatness of Napa reds. They are so enjoyable at the very early stage like Blankiet Rive Droite 2018 (97p) is still a baby but so charming and elegantly volaptuous. Heitz Martha's Vineyard 2013 is a teenager who is just starting to bloom and Merryvale's Profile from the great vintage 1991 (94p) pleases with its gracefully aged opulent style. 

1y 6m ago

 Graham's  has updated producer and wine information

1y 6m ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Graham's . In a tasting of  185 wines 

BWW2021 competition finals were filled with superb lineup of the world's greatest wines and superb finds from various price categories. The finals that were run in various blind tasting sessions, revealed many surprises. Most commonly, the fact that all the wines were so enjoyable already at this young stage, although many of them will deliver so much more after ageing of 10-15 years. Congratulations for all the winners!

1y 8m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Editor of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Graham's . In a tasting of  61 wines 

The third long and rewarding BWW2020 -tasting day is now behind. Here is my personal list over 90 points wines! Thank you again for all the other tasters - tasting 146 young fine wines from all over the world is always a hard work day - but because they are "the Best Wines of the World - it makes so much easier and more fun. 

1y 9m ago

 Neal Martin/BWW2022 - Best Bordeaux Wine Critic of the World, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Graham's . In a tasting of  25 wines 

The 1966 Petrus is often overshadowed by the 1961 and 1964, however, it remains a great vintage that has held up well. It has a much more reserved earthier bouquet than those aforementioned vintages, more black than red fruit infused with clove, autumn leaves and mahogany bureau. It is beautifully defined and noble, offering ash-like/fireside hearth scents with aeration. The palate is extremely well balanced with fine tannin that are slightly drier and more rigid than the 1964. That said, this bottle demonstrates more flesh than the previous one a couple of years back, a gentle sprinkling of white pepper towards the statesmanlike finish. This benefits from time in the glass, stretching its arms to reveal a deeper, slightly gripper Petrus than initially observed. Outstanding. Tasted at the Petrus dinner at Hide restaurant in London.

1y 11m ago

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