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Symington acquires Douro vineyard after 100-year wait

The Symington family has bought a 30-hectare Douro estate it has been eyeing for the past century, shrugging off concerns about falling global Port consumption.

Symington has acquired Quinta da Sabordela for an undisclosed fee. It plans to incorporate the vineyard into its neighbouring Quinta do Bomfim estate, increasing its size to 80.5ha.

‘Some people would see a decision to buy additional vineyard in a key Port area as eccentric,’ said Paul Symington, chairman and joint-managing director of Symington Family Estates, citing a decline in worldwide Port consumption over the past several years.

‘But, we see good opportunities for premium quality Port wines now and in the future,’ he told decanter.com.

Quinta da Sabordela, which was used in the 1930s to make Port for Smith Woodhouse, marks a rare opportunity and its elevated vineyards will add more structure and complexity to Dow’s Ports, Symington Family Estates said. It added that it has been trying to buy the estate since 1912.

The latest sales figures from the Port Institute, IVDP, lend weight to Symington’s optimism around the future of premium Port.

Overall bottled Port shipments by volume fell by 3% for the first nine months of 2013, compared to the same period of last year, but this masks a 17% increase in shipments of ‘premium’ Port; albeit to just under 1m nine-litre cases versus 4.74m cases for standard Port.

In value terms, Port shipments rose by 4% over the same period, with premium Port up by almost 37% to €87.3m (US$119.8m). Standard Port dropped by 3% to €148.4m.

Symington is currently building a new winery at Bomfim, to be equipped with six ‘lagares’, the containers typically used for vinifying Port. A visitor centre is also set to open in the spring of 2015.

Written by Chris Mercer

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