The Symington family hold one of the largest and most valuable stocks of Port ageing in seasoned oak, including barrels that date back to the 19th century. Charles Symington has used these beautifully mature wines to redefine the Dow 10, 20, 30 and 40-Year-Old Ports.
Charles has maintained a dry finish for these wines, the hallmark of Dow’s Vintage, but he and his team have evolved the Tawny Ports to give them additional concentration and structure, with darker hues of polished mahogany, by using wines that have been aged in small seasoned oak vats, as well as in cask.
The new Dow’s Tawny Ports are presented in a classic Port bottle and the new labels reflect the extraordinary skills required from the family’s tasters, coopers and lodge staff to produce these authentically hand-crafted wines.
Charles Symington says: “With increasing demand for Tawny Ports, I have spent many months working to redefine our Dow’s wines. I have selected those made from two of our finest vineyards: Quinta do Bomfim and Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira and in a departure from traditional practice, I have used Ports that were aged in small oak vats, as well those aged in traditional 550 litre casks.”
World-wide sales of Aged-Tawny Ports are valued at over €77 million and have grown by an astonishing €21 million since 2010 (+38%)*, belying the myth that today’s consumers are less interested in Port.
*Source: Total ex-cellar Port sales 2017, IVDP/Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture
Berry Bros. & Rudd is getting into the festive spirit, unveiling a carefully selected range of hampers, wines and spirits for the season.
Britain’s oldest family-owned wine and spirit merchant has this year, revamped its Christmas collection, with a focus on its best selling hampers, whilst shining a spotlight on its spirits offering.
For Christmas 2016, Berry Bros. & Rudd has those tricky secret Santa gifts and special stocking fillers all sewn up. A selection of miniature bottles including favourites such as The King’s Ginger 50ml (￡7.50), Good Ordinary Claret 37.5cl (￡5.25) and No.3 London Dry Gin 100ml (￡8.50) will ensure plenty of festive cheer.
Beautifully wrapped spirits gift packs are also available, perfect for the discerning gent. The King’s Ginger Gift Set, features a bottle of the spicy, warm liquor, which goes beautifully with sparkling wine, alongside a 1.5oz hip flask (￡30). Bottled when it’s ready to drink, Speyside single malt, The Glenrothes Vintage 2001, is unlike anything else he will receive and is available as a gift set, alongside two glasses (￡60).
Other highlights of this year’s range include the Chef’s Pantry Hamper, designed to cater to the true gourmand. It contains White Truffle and Porcini Sauce, Sapori Truffles, Himalayan Pink Gourmet Salt, and Pommery Moutarde de Meaux, alongside Berry Bros. & Rudd’s Reserve Red, Berry Bros. & Rudd’s Reserve White and Berry Bros. & Rudd Champagne (￡100). For something to really impress, the Luxury Hamper is a roll-call of indulgence: a combination of the finest wines, to carry you through the Christmas feast, sit alongside delicious culinary treats like White Truffle Oil and Soft Italian Pistachio Nougat (￡475).
As ever, in store, the Berry Bros. & Rudd experts, including seven Masters of Wine are available to guide customers through their drinks selections this Christmas. The buyers have compiled a definitive list of wines to serve throughout the season, whether at drinks parties, on Christmas Day itself or to give as thoughtful gifts. Wines are available to buy as a single bottle, in cases and also in mixed cases, presented in a gift box. Pre-mixed case selections start from ￡30 for three bottles of Berry Bros. & Rudd’s House Collection.
With stocking fillers from ￡5.25 and gifts selections from ￡30, Berry Bros. & Rudd has Christmas all wrapped up.
Port is one of those categories that gets overlooked a lot in many bars and restaurants. But I for one try to offer it to customers to let them into a new flavour, a new experience, which can get them hooked. Cockburn’s have established themselves as one of the leading brands of Port since 1815, and is the first port-of-call for many bars due to this. But why? And indeed why should we purchase it?
* Port is a fortified wine, meaning that its fermentation is interrupted through the addition of pure grape brandy in the proportion of 20% brandy to 80% wine, thus preserving some of the grapes’ natural sugars, so defining its full, rich character and ultimately its great longevity.
From 1808 to 1812, the Scottish Robert Cockburn served as a soldier in the Peninsular War under the Duke of Wellington. Whilst in Portugal, Robert Cockburn discovered the Douro region and its wines and vowed to return and dedicate himself to the region. In 1815, when hostilities ceased, he returned to the country and founded his own Port house – Cockburn’s.
As business developed through the 19th century, three other families joined the company: the Smithes, the Teages and the Cobbs. The families produced and ensured the consistent quality of Cockburn’s, as illustrated by the renowned Cockburn’s Vintage Ports of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1962, Cockburn’s was sold by the families to Harvey’s of Bristol. Forty-eight years later in 2010, Cockburn’s was once again in the sure hands of a family of Port producers – the Symingtons. This family has been making Port for five generations and is the largest vineyard owner in the Douro.
The 1st of September 1969 saw the launch of the landmark Reserve Port: Cockburn’s Special Reserve. This was a defining moment for Port. The first great Reserve Port bridged the quality gap between everyday Ruby Ports and the rare and expensive Vintage Ports. Premium quality Port was no longer bound to the formal dining rooms, Cockburn’s Special Reserve made Port accessible and enjoyable at many varied occasions, both formal and informal. Since the 1960’s, Cockburn’s Special Reserve has led the Reserve Port category. Its introduction was followed by many other Port producers who started to produce their own Reserves.
In 1971, a series of TV advertisements for Cockburn’s were released. These ground breaking advertisements were well received for their British tongue-in-cheek humour and they created renewed interest in Port and were instrumental in forming a new generation of Port consumers.
I’ve had the chance to try their Fine Ruby expression, so below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Cockburn’s Fine Ruby – 20%
A blend of full-bodied wines, matured for approximately two years in seasoned oak vats. Fresh berry aromas on the nose that pack a punch once onto the palate. A slight sweetness around the bramble fruit flavours and becomes rather light near the dry end.
As you can imagine, Cockburn’s is not one for traditionally being served within a cocktail. I’d go for a pairing with chocolate desserts and cheese to really get the full flavours.
With many expressions to choose from including Fine Tawny, Fine White and Vintage, I’d recommend one thing – TRY THEM. If you ever have the chance in a bar or restaurant, or you see it in your local spirit shop, give it a go. If you like red wine, you’ll love this. If you like cognac, you’ll love this. If you like trying something new, well, you get the picture.
Last week was the inaugural start of something that has been proving popular in recent years – the Corks Out tasting evenings. Only this time, instead of the usual Warrington and Chester locations, they’ve branched out into Manchester and brought along with them a host of brands in both wine, Champagne and spirits. With the promise of a wide selection from producers including Morton, Franschhoek and Cattier as well as spirits that included El Dorado rum, Hayman’s gin and Auchentoshan whisky, you’d think there would be plenty to go around. Oh no. To cap off the selection, both Robinson’s brewery and Wrenbury cider were at the Castlefield Room’s to shed a bit of local prestige to the afternoon’s proceedings. With the Corks Out team on hand to lend their expertise to the public, and joined by the ever popular Stevens Garnier and Wines of Portugal, an afternoon turned quickly into an evening of not only being given the chance to try bottles that ranged from £6.99 to £39.99, but also the opportunity to win a free Magnum of Champagne and to learn the trade by signing up to their collaboration with Manchester Wine School. With much to experience, I tried to keep to brands and styles that I had either never come across or had not previously had the chance to sample, so below I give to you my tasting notes on each –
Morton White Label Sauvignon Blanc 2011, New Zealand – 13.5%
Lots of passionfruit and citrus on the nose that developed into soft, well-balanced offering on the palate.
Cypress White Label Syrah 2009, New Zealand
Instant sweetness with ripe berry and plum notes on the nose. Contrasting flavours on the palate though with slow hints of chocolate and herbs.
Cypress Terraces Syrah 2008, New Zealand
Strong dark berry aromas on the nose mix well with dark chocolate and liquorice on the palate. Slight spice on the end.
Majella The Musician Cabernet Shiraz 2010, Australia – 14.5%
A blend of blackcurrant and mint on the nose that punches its way onto the palate.
Terrunyo Syrah 2007, Chile
On the nose, strong raspberries and white pepper that evolves into liquorice flavours on the palate. A dry finish.
Concha y Toro Late Harvest Dessert 2008, Chile
Fresh peach and honey notes come through on the nose, with the honey creating a light, long finish on the palate.
Steenberg Chardonnay Brut NV, South Africa – 11.5%
Fresh apples and crumble found on the nose, with a fresh, creamy palate offering with a crisp finish.
Matetic EQ Chardonnay 2009, Chile
Instant peach and honey blend well as it develops from the nose to the palate. Well-balanced and creamy.
Le Difese Tenuta San Guido (3rd Sassicaia) 2010, Italy
Dark berry aromas hit the nose instantly, with delicious spice on the palate to counter its richness.
Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc 2010, New Zealand
Apricot and lime balance well on the nose, with juicy fruit and a citrus edge hitting the palate well.
Ciconia Branco Alentejo 2011, Portugal
Lots of passionfruit and melon balancing nicely on both the nose and palate.
Drink Me Tinto Niepoort 2010, Portugal
Bold dark berry fruits that dive deeper as it hits the palate to create a smooth finish.
Niepoort Late Bottled Vintage Port 2007, Portugal
Blackberries and plums blend well on the nose, becoming soft and silky once on the palate. Long finish.
Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Le Paradis 2010, France – 13%
Incredible ripe green fruits on the nose that leads to a well-rounded sharp flavour on the palate.
Cotes du Rhone Rose Clos Bellane Altitude 2011, France – 12%
Peach and strawberries combine gently on the nose and becomes light and fruity upon hitting the palate.
Cattier NV Brut Champagne
Fresh white fruit of apples and pears subtly surround the nose, with a lively, fresh dose of tropical and floral flavours on the palate.
Cattier Glamour Demi Sec Rose Champagne
A blend of red berries and ripe fruit are present on the nose and palate, with a hint of sweetness to finish.
Cattier Antique Rose Champagne
Fresh and well-rounded with crisp red berries dominating both the nose and palate.
Portia Ebeia Ribera del Duero 2004, Spain
Incredibly fresh on the nose, with hints of vanilla and raspberry making its way through on the nose and palate. Enjoys a finish of sweetness.
An incredible selection that covers a host of countries including Italy, Chile, New Zealand and Australia, as well as a Portuguese port, South African sparkling wine, Chilean dessert wine and a variety of Champagnes from well-known houses. I was also lucky enough to sample the range from Robinson’s brewery as well as the El Dorado 12 and 15yr rums and Patron XO Cafe tequila. The spirits will be featured on my site in the near future as their own seperate article, as will the Robinson’s range (although you can check out previous notes on their Old Tom and ‘build a rocket boys’ offerings).
The event was a great chance to not only try something different in a variety of categories, but also the opportunity to talk to both the ladies and gentleman behind the brands and Ruth Yates herself who was more than willing to chat to anyone and everyone about her favourite hobby.