Taiwan ‘promising’ for Port

Symington Estates is seeking a bigger representation in Asia, with emerging markets such as Taiwan looking promising for its aged Ports and single quintas.

7048_Symington_Declares_2011_Vintage_PortsSpeaking to the drinks business HK fresh after a tour round Asia, encompassing China, Taiwan and Singapore, Johnny Symington joint managing director of his family’s estates was optimistic about the direction in which his five Port brands were headed in the region.

“This is the most exciting trip I can remember,” he said. “The markets are looking promising across all sectors – wholesale, retail, on premise. In the last three years, the Asia market for us has expanded significantly. We’ve increased our sales by value by five times, and it’s places such as Taiwan and Singapore where we are seeing the most change.”

Taiwan, with its rapidly developing wine culture, cosmopolitan cities and a relatively affluent customer base is a “prime” market for Symington’s brands of Dow’s, Cockburn’s, Warre’s and Graham’s – especially now that Symington has distributors for each market segment of retail, wholesale, online and on premise.

Symington and the Asia Pacific marketing manager, Jorge Nuñes have also in fact just bolstered the Asia team by recruiting a new representative in Shanghai who will follow up sales leads after Symington and Nunes return to Portgual and Hong Kong.

“Travel retail in Singapore is also interesting,” said Nuñes. “Consumers there are concerned in the premium end which is the field in which we operate. And the trade are developing a good understanding of Port and our different brands.”

Symington’s Port brands came under the spotlight recently for the sixth annual Vintage Port Academy and decanting competition – an event, Symington said, they would love to replicate across Asia.

“It’s great fun and it’s theatre which Port should be. Why would you want a sommelier decanting your 30 year old vintage Port in the back of the restaurant when he could be doing it at your table with other people watching? Training the trade is essential for them to be more confident with it.”

As part of the “theatre” of decanting vintage Port, Symington Estates plans to launch a jeroboam of its 10 and 20 year Tawny Ports in Hong Kong early next year starting initially with the Mira Hotel’s Cuisine Cuisine restaurant, before considering other Asia markets.

“We did this last year with the 10 and 20 year olds in London and Paris, which has been particularly successful with the on-trade ,” said Nuñes. “And we have several new developments coming from other parts of the world, such as Denmark, Holland, Portugal and Belgium. The big part of what we’re doing in Asia is promoting the fact that Port is so versatile, fun and not just a fixture in men’s clubs.”

Jeroboam port

A jeroboam of Graham’s 20 year old Tawny Port at Vinum restaurant in Graham’s Port Lodge

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