Cockburn’s marks bicentenary with new vineyard

Cockburn’s has marked its bicentenary year by extending its Quinta dos Canais vineyard, planting the native Portuguese grape Alicante Bouschet for the first time.


Symington Family Estates’ acquired Cockburn’s in 2010, with this latest €400,000 improvement to the brand’s principal vineyard signalling its continued commitment to protecting and developing the Douro’s indigenous varieties.

The new 9.4 hectare vineyard includes 32,800 individual vines made up of the lesser-known grapes of Alicante Bouschet (5.3ha), Tinta Amarela (3.3ha) and Tinta Franca (0.8ha) grape varieties.

Alicante Bouschet is know as a teinturier, a grape that produces wines with a dark, rich colour as well as a fresh, lasting acidity. Tinta Amarela is used to make rich, full-bodied wines with aromas of wild fruit. Tinta Franca produces wines with delicate floral flavours and violet notes.

This is the first time that Cockburn’s has planted Alicante Bouschet, building upon Symington Family Estates’ decision to plant an experimental grape variety library at Quinta do Ataide in the Vilariça Valley.

Announcing the project in June, the experimental plot covers 2.25 hectares in the Douro Superior and contains 53 different vitis vinifera varieties – 29 red and 24 white – which were planted just over one year ago. The majority are indigenous grapes, but also included are a range of international varieties. Its objective is to safeguard the genetic diversity of the Douro’s indigenous grapes, and allow viticulturists to study the region’s lesser-known grape varieties.

The project was the brainchild of Charles Symington, head of viticulture at Symington Family Estates, the largest Port producer in the Douro, and also the biggest landholder with a little over 1,000ha in the region.

One Response to “Cockburn’s marks bicentenary with new vineyard”

  1. Dear Lauren,

    Despite being widely grown in Portugal since more than 100 years, Alicante-Bouschet is no Portuguese native variety. It is, in fact, a French man-made cross of Petit-Bouschet and Grenache created in the 19th. century by M. Henri Bouschet, a grapevine breeder working in Domaine de Calmette, Hérault.

    Portugal has identified until today over 200 native grape varieties, some of them very old which are being conserved, evaluated and selected for growers and winemakers benefit and sustainability by PORVID, the Portuguese Association for Grapevine Diversity. You can check the development of this work at .

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