The Symington Family Estates group, most famous for Port production, has announced that it is to build a dedicated winery for its growing portfolio of Douro DOC table wines.
The new winery is expected to cost between 4-5 million euros and will be built on its Quinta do Ataide property in the remote Vilafrica Valley in the extreme north east of the Douro.
‘The landscaping has already begun and the plan is to have the new winery ready for the 2020 harvest,’ said Paul Symington, chairman and MD of Symington Family Estates, speaking at a recent London masterclass entitled, ‘The Douro – 20 Years On.’
‘This is a big investment decision for us and it is based upon the fact that, after two decades, we are now extremely confident of the quality of our table wines.
‘The aim will be to produce high-end red and white Douro DOC wines, because we don’t believe that it is economically sensible or sustainable to produce Douro wines at £5-6 retail. I fear that that market is a suicide mission.’
According to Symington, the Douro now produces around 4.5 million cases of table wine per year. In the UK, we sell less than 4% of that total production, with less than 10,000 cases.
The Symington range begins around the £9-10 price point with its Altano Red and White.
The range also includes more premium estate grown offerings from its Quinta do Ataide and Quinta do Vesuvio properties. In addition, it also makes wines under its P + S label in conjunction with Bruno Prats, former owner of Château Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux.
Previously, the Family Estates wines were made at Symington’s Quinta do Sol facility in the Douro’s Baixo Corgo.
According to Symington, all the DOC equipment there will be moved to the new winery. New equipment will also be purchased to enable the winery to meet all of the group’s needs for the production of its table wines.
Charles Symington will continue to oversee the winemaking. The new facility’s oenologist will be Pedro Correia who has specialised in table wine production with the company since 1999.
Since the family began producing Douro DOC wines in the 1990s, Correia and Charles Symington have focused on indigenous varieties and most notably Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barocca and Alicante Bouschet.
The whites include Malvasia Fina, Viosinho, Rabigato and Moscatel Galego.
In 2014, Charles Symington also created an experimental ‘variety library’ at Quinta do Ataide, comprising 53 different grape varieties painstakingly collected from across the Douro and beyond.
‘Perhaps what is most exciting is that these native, low-yielding varieties perform so well in the Douro’s climate and provide such exceptional distinctive qualit’, said Symington. ‘It’s one of the reasons why we are confident of creating world-class table wines from the Douro’.
Updated 15/03/2018: Winery investment amount is euros not dollars
Six of the Symington Family Estates wines are being shown at the Decanter Spain and Portugal Fine Wine Encounter on Saturday 24th of Febuary.