30th December 2019 by Rachel Wallhouse

Sometimes, every few years, there is a real perk to this job. I was lucky enough to have mine in May 2018, with a trip to Portugal to taste the Symington Family of Ports. Symington Family Estates own four of the major port houses Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s and Cockburn’s. They also have several table wine interests including Altano and Prats & Symington. Read all about my adventure around Porto and my personal recommendations…

This was to be my view for the two days we were there, staying at Quinta Do Bomfin near Pinhão. It is situated in the heart of the Upper Douro amongst some of the most spectacular, beautiful vineyards I have seen (And for those who know me, that includes the vineyards around the Hill of Corton!!)

As soon as we arrived from the airport it was straight into tasting, we were having the Altano red and white wines for lunch. These were great little wines that pair beautifully with food (for more of those, check out Nicks Wednesday Night Sausage wine blog……..) and then Port, for lunch, chilled, served from Jeroboam!! This inspired us to do the same, so we’ve cracked open a Jeroboam of 20 Year Old Tawny- enjoy this in store for only £6 a glass! View our ‘By The Glass’ wines.

Real Port can only come from Portugal, though the styles are often copied. It also comes in several styles including white, rosé and an aged style called tawny, then within red port there are further styles such as Ruby, Reserve, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), Crusted, Quinta and Vintage. Each one stepping up the intricacies of Port.

Ruby- an inexpensive introduction to the sweeter fruity style of Port, made to be drunk young.
Reserve- a premium style of Ruby port, starting to show the flavours of Vintage port, made to drink now.
Late Bottled Vintage (LBV)- aged for 4-6 years in barrel, with the same quality as Vintage Port but made to be drunk on release.
Quinta- a single vineyard expression of Port, showing all the class and style of Vintage Port from a single year.
Vintage Port- Made from a single year, where a declaration is made from the major port houses that this was a special year for Port. Only matured in barrel for a maximum of 2 and a half years before being bottled, they can be kept like this for several decades before enjoying.

Here is a snapshot of the cellar at Grahams Port Lodge, in Porto with vintage ports going back to 1868. The oldest available vintage port is reported to be Ferreria 1810.

Some of the Ports that are available in store include:

Grahams 10 year old Tawny Port- Aromas of candid fruit peel and cherry bakewell. On the palate there are rich notes of raisins and chocolate, with some fresh acidity. Best served chilled for desserts or as an aperitif. Normally £19.99 Now £16.99.

Enjoy a 20cl bottle of Grahams 10 Year Old Tawny Port for only £7.49!

Grahams Late Bottled Vintage 2014- Ripe cassis aroma, mixed with blackberry and a little nutty note. Full of dark berry fruits, plum and dark cherry with hints of coffee and chocolate. Great value for money. Normally £13.99 Now £9.99. Limited stock!

Grahams Quinta Dos Malvedos 2005/06- Much more defined fruit of cherry and plum. A little cake spice notes with a hint of fennel. Very long fruity finish, one to savour. Normally £29.99 Now £24.99.

Smith Wodehouse Quinta do Madelena 2005- I fell in love with the style of Smith Wodehouse port on my visit to Portugal, naming their 2016 Vintage Port the best one of the trip, this single quinta comes from Symingtons smallest vineyard in the Rio Torto valley. Ripe blackberry/cherry fruits, but with a touch of savoury and pencil lead finish. Loads of layers and a great glass to ponder the season of goodwill with!! £21.99


Why not come pay us a visit and we’ll be able to find your perfect tipple! Want to get in touch? We’d love to hear from you! Message us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.