August 2010 Tasting Panel Newsletter

An Unlikey -- and Successful -- Partnership

By: The Tasting Panel Editorial Team

Wine is now, more than ever, a global phenomenon, and one of the signs of this new era of "world wine" is that partnerships between producers from regions that previously had little or nothing to do with one another not only happen, but thrive.

Take Bordeaux and the Douro, for example. An unlikely partnership between Bruno Prats, former owner of the famed Château Cos d'Estournel, and the Symington family, world-renowned fourth-generation Port producers, has resulted in Prat + Symington, a unique collaboration began in 1998 with the common goal of making the best wine from Portugal's Douro Valley.

Bruno Prats and Charles Symington in the Douro Valley.

In 1999, the duo produced some experimental lots, and in 2000 their concept was realized with the first vintage of Chryseia, now considered one of the top Douro DOC wines. Chryseia, Greek for "golden" (a translation of the Portuguese word douro) shows what happens when rustic fruit from a hot climate combines with the finesse of a French winemaker. This wine has intense color with red fruit and hints of wood on the nose. Lively acidity and fresh tannins create excellent balance while a supple tender finish rounds out this rich, complete wine.

Following the initial success of Chryseia, the estate's second wine, Post Scriptum, was created in 2002. Post Scriptum offers a more approachable style with a blend that's predominantly Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca and a lesser amount of Tinta Roriz. The percentages of each varietal change slightly with each vintage, but the wine's style remains consistent-understated and elegant. Intense dark purple in color with a ripe nose and fresh flavors of cherry and dark fruit. Subtle French oak on the nose is followed by long structure and soft tannins in the mouth, balanced with an intense fruit finish.

Quinta da Roriz.
 In 2009, Prats + Symington reinforced their commitment to the region and purchased the historic Quinta de Roriz estate, adding Prazo de Roriz to their collection of Douro DOC wines. Prazo de Roriz is produced exclusively with grapes grown at the famous Quinta de Roriz vineyard, one of the oldest estates in the Douro. The wine is velvety, soft textured and well-balanced. The fruit is ripe yet gentle, with scents of dark plum and black cherry, soft tannins and a mineral edge kicked up by acidity.

At Prats + Symington, the ultimate care is taken with the winemaking process. Fruit is hand-picked at optimum maturity and vinified separately in a dedicated facility with an underground barrel cellar built specifically for this partnership. Vinification and élevage closely follow the Bordeaux method; the grapes are individually selected by bunch, entirely de-stemmed and lightly crushed. Fermentation takes place in small temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks with frequent pump-overs and prolonged skin contact. Following a lengthy maceration and malolactic fermentation, the wine is transferred to custom-made 400 liter new French oak barrels to preserve freshness and avoid excessive oak.

In a completely original quest, Bruno Prats and the Symington family have taken every step to ensure that Chryseia, Post Scriptum and Prazo de Roriz represent the best DOC wines that the Douro has to offer. They have an unparalleled passion for crafting wines that uniquely combine the rustic terroir of the Douro with a fresh elegant Bordeaux quality. In the world of wine (with a bit of out-of the-box thinking) anything is possible.

Prats + Symington wines are imported by Premium Port Wines.

THE TASTING PANEL, 6345 Balbao Blvd, Ste. 111, Encino, CA 91316
Content ©2014 THE TASTING PANEL magazine. All rights reserved