Warre’s and Graham’s vintage Port releases mark 650 years of Anglo-Portuguese relations
A limited release of two special edition 2020 Vintage Ports from Graham’s and Warre’s marks 650 years of Anglo-Portuguese relations, and celebrates key anniversaries and a “strong future” for both Port houses, according to the company chairman.
The year 2020 brought historic milestones for both Graham’s and Warre’s, with the Port houses’ respective 200th and 350th anniversaries.
Anniversary celebrations were postponed due to the pandemic, but 2022 brings with it two celebratory special editions; Graham’s 2020 Vintage Port and Warre’s 2020 Vinhas Velhas Vintage Port, launched this summer at joint events held at the British Embassy in Lisbon and Portuguese Embassy in London.
Celebrations of the new vintage releases also encompass another important date – jointly marking 650 years since the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373, the oldest military alliance in the world.
The London event was host to Portuguese Ambassador, Mr Nuno Brito, who gave a few words in recognition of the 650 year anniversary.
“There is a past, there is a present, and there is a future, I can assure you,” he said of the bond between the two nations.
Britain is host to 440,000 Portuguese citizens, Brito went on to explain. The largest foreign community in Portugal is usually the UK, overtaken in recent months only by displaced Ukrainians seeking refuge.
And Port wine has an important role to play in this international relationship.
Johnny Symington, chairman of Symington Family Estates, described the bond between the two nations – one “built on friendship” – as the “most ancient of all alliances”.
The UK is responsible for a third of all Port wine sales, he noted, and its popularity here “has, without doubt, a strong future ahead”.
The anniversaries, though postponed for two years, are, for the fourth generation descendant, “a moment of deep reflection for our family”, and “exemplify the strong ties between these two countries”.
Graham’s 2020 Vintage Port has a limited 2022 En Primeur Release of just 3,000 bottles.
The wine itself is drawn from high altitude and north-west facing vines across three of Graham’s four estates – Quinta dos Malvedos (55%), Quinta da Vila Velha (25%), & Quinta do Tua (20%).
The 2020 vintage was the smallest harvest of this century in the region, and produced very low quantities of highly concentrated wines.
The Douro experienced the hottest July on record in 2020, with temperatures recorded at 3.5°C above the average. The region saw heat waves in June, August, and September which registered multi-day heat spikes above the 30-year average maximum temperatures.
As a result, yields were substantially reduced compared to our July forecasts – around 40% down at some of our estates.
This reflected greatly on the harvest. Grape varieties that usually ripen sequentially needed to be picked at the same time – most noticeably, the Touriga Nacional with the typically late-ripening Touriga Franca.
Graham’s 2020 Vintage Port is a blend of co-fermented Touriga Nacional & Touriga Franca, co-fermented Sousão and Touriga Nacional, old mixed vines and Alicante Bouschet.
Warre’s 2020 Vinhas Velhas Vintage Port is made exclusively from 80 to 100-year-old mixed vines at two of Warre’s estates: Quinta da Cavadinha (53%) and Quinta do Retiro (47%), with a limited 2022 En Primeur release of 2,400 bottles.
These old vines produced just 380g per vine at Cavadinha and 240g per vine at Retiro. It took three vines to produce one bottle of this Vintage Port, where typically it requires just one vine.
This vintage marks the first time that a Warre’s Vintage Port has been produced exclusively from the old vines at two of our
Also part of the fourth generation at Symington Family Estates is Charles Symington, who took over from father Peter as the company’s head winemaker in 2009.
Charles spoke of the “massive transformation” achieved in Port winemaking over the last half century, when the most recent jubilee for Warre’s, marking 300 years, was celebrated in 1970.
Warre’s 2020 Vinhas Velhas Vintage Port was tasted alongside its 1970 counterpart.
“I just hope the 2020s will show as well as the 1970s in 50 years time,” Charles commented.