In a sign of the improving status of table-wine production in Portugal, a 53-acre estate in a prime Port-producing district has been purchased by Prats & Symington, the joint venture that makes one of the country's top new-wave reds.
The estate, Quinta de Perdiz, located in the Alto Douro, is envisioned to become a key source of grapes for the top-rated Chryseia table wine. In just its second vintage, in 2001, Chryseia ($40) scored 94 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale and earned a place among the Top 100 wines released in 2003. It is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinto Cão.
Prats & Symington, also known by the acronym P+S, is a collaboration between the famed Port-making Symington family and Bruno Prats, the former owner of Château Cos-d'Estournel, a Bordeaux second-growth. The Symingtons own the top Port houses of Warre, Dow and Graham, as well as Quinta de Vesuvio. Prats currently makes wine in Chile. The partners began work on Chryseia in 1998 with the goal of making a top-class red table wine from the Douro.
|Quinta de Perdiz is envisioned to become a key source of grapes for Prats & Symington's top-rated Chryseia wine.|
Perdiz, which means partridge in Portuguese, was acquired for an undisclosed price from Manuel de Saraiva of Vinhos Castelinho, a producer of Ports and table wines. Located in the Rio Torto valley, the estate was recently replanted with single-variety blocks of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, rather than the mixed plantings more common in the Douro, Rupert Symington said. This should provide greater quality control over the grapes destined for table wines.
"We have been buying Port grapes from the various other farms in the same valley for many years now, and the quality of the subregion is indisputable," Symington said. "It is very rare to buy Douro property in this sort of condition, and normally one would be looking at replanting everything or creating a new vineyard. [We] will not concentrate the Chryseia grape supply exclusively on Perdiz until we have seen what the terroir is capable of."
In addition to Chryseia, P+S has recently released a second wine, called Post Scriptum, from the 2002 vintage. It was originally to be made only when the grapes were not of high enough quality to make Chryseia. (There will be no Chryseia released in 2002). But Post Scriptum will now be made every year, based on its favorable reception in Portugal, Symington said. Production will be about 2,000 cases a year, in comparison with Chryseia's 3,000 cases, and it will be priced at about $20 a bottle. About 500 cases will be shipped to the United States for release later this year.
The Douro has traditionally been geared to Port production, and consistently high quality table wines are a recent development in the region. But with demand for Port stagnant, many Port houses, as well as a new generation of Portuguese winemakers, are taking the plunge into table wines, for which they see a greater potential for profit. As the quality and international recognition of Douro table wines have increased, land prices in the region have been soaring. In addition, many Douro vineyards are being replanted to improve quality, both for Ports and table wines.