2016 Vintage Port Tasting with Rupert Symington

Posted by John Clerides on May 14, 2018

On Friday May 11th2016 I had the distant pleasure of attending a port tasting lead by Rupert Symington. The premise of the event was to taste the their line up of 2016 Ports which was a general declared vintage, the last time there was a general vintage was 2011.

Before I continue with my tasting notes I would like to point out that Rupert Symington told our group they usually hold back 25% of the vintage for re-release. However, 2016 was 25% less in volume than 2011 and 2011 was 35% less consequently there will be very little wine held back for re-release. One of the other items that make for scarcity is that they have dialed in their vineyards better with a far more strict selection. This perfect trifecta all makes for fewer wines. Here are a couple PDF scans of the material distributed to us during the tasting: (File 1), (File 2)

2016 Smith Woodhouse

Initially quite hot on the nose and palate, follows through with a bit more of a raisin note on the palate, like Zinfandel. This wine has a lot of Tinta Baroca in it. Juicy, deeply structured and intense a full throttle Port 88-90 points

2016 Cockburn’s

The Symington family purchased the estate from Jim Beam in 2010; both the 2010 and 2015 were declared. There is a large component of Touriga Nacional, one of my favourite varieties by the way.

A big tightly knit wine, not as ripe as the Smith Woodhouse, which suits my palate better, classily structured, more like kirsch finish, red stone fruit. Lovely stuff 91+ points

2016 Warres

Located in a cooler part of Douro Valley, higher acidity in this wine. Spicy notes, lavender, marmalade, nice tart freshness to the wine. Delicious 92 points

2016 Grahams

Based on 5 estates. The wine is delicious, fresh lovely refined, pungent aromas of black cherry, inky black blue in colour, dense and will require patience 93+ points plus

2016 Dows

A deep powerful muscular port, tight refined hidden black fruits. There seems to be a neat little bit of herb hidden beneath that muscular power which elevates it and give the wine a subtle elegance. Lovely 93+ points

2016 Quinta di Vesuvio

Explosive fruit, deeply coloured and intense, the easiest port to appreciate and understand, tasty and enjoyable now. 90 points

In addition to the 2016 we also taste some back vintages to see how the wines age. In all fairness the winemaking and viticultural practices have been honed and dialed in with more of a strict selection of fruit. These wines aged beautifully the newer vintages will age even longer.

2007 Cockburn’s

The fruit has now pealed back and the there are lovely elegant thyme, spicy floral quality to the wine. Excellent substructure giving then wine lift and grace, long and lovely has aged will and will continue to do so.

2000 Grahams

More subtle, refine, elegant ripe plum pudding notes, shave chocolate, xmas cake spice nuances, dusted with espresso coffee notes. Excellent

1997 Warres 

Earthy, dusty, initially tart with along finish. I quite like the flavours and secondary nuances. The wealth of spices on the back of the plate a simply amazing and exotic. Super wine

1985 Dows

The wine is still quite alive, a classic vintage, will age quite nicely for another decade