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Aged tawny Port sees €10m sales surge

The aged tawny Port category has grown by more than €10 million in the past four years, despite the recessionary environment.

Graham’s 1972 Single Harvest is the first dated Tawny Port to be selected by Peter Symington following the acquisition of Graham’s by the Symington family in 1970

Such performance was announced in London yesterday by Paul Symington, chairman of Symington Family Estates, who stated, “Fine old tawnies have had phenomenal growth”, when presenting a 1972 single harvest tawny from Graham’s – a brand owned by the company, along with Dow’s, Warre’s and Cockburn’s.

“We have seen aged tawny Port sales increase from €56.4m in 2010 to €67.2m in 2014 – that’s a growth of €10.8m, and during a recessionary time,” he continued.

Speaking to the drinks business after a tasting of the 1972 Graham’s, the third single harvest tawny (or colheita) to be released by Graham’s following the ’69 and ‘61, Symington stressed that the increasing demand was for top-end tawny Port.

“The market has grown by €10.8m, but in volume, it is only 15,000 cases more, so it is all at the top end,” he stated.

When asked if such a sales increase was at the expense of other premium Port styles, such as Single Quinta and Vintage Port, Symington said that the demand for aged tawny was additional business.

“The 2011 en primeur vintage Port release in 2013 was one of the strongest campaigns for a decade, so yes, the aged tawny sales are additional business, but it is also offsetting a decline, although that’s at the ruby/tawny/white level,” he said, pointing out that aged tawny is defined as tawny Port that is 10 years old and above.

He also told db that the Symington family were increasing stock levels of tawny Port in expectation of a continuation in the current demand trend: “We are putting aside millions of euros worth of wines,” he commented.

Admitting that aged tawny is presently about 20% of the Symington family’s turnover, in 5-10 years, he said that “it might be worth one third of our business… we have bullish forecasts.”

Summing up, he explained, “We have identified two major growth areas for our business: one is Douro DOC [wines] and the other is old tawnies.”

Symington Family Estates has invested significantly in table wine vineyards and wineries to complement its Port production, and believes strongly in the quality potential of the Douro for fine wine.

Among the Symington’s table wines is Chryseia, which was started in 1999 as a joint venture between the Symington family and Bruno Prats, Frenchman and former owner of Château Cos-d’Estournel in Bordeaux.

More recently, Symington Family Estates has planted an experimental vineyard in the hottest part of the Douro to uncover which native grapes are best-suited to the extreme conditions of the Portuguese region – both for Port production and table wine making.

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