Prazo de Roriz 2011, Douro
What: Portugal has to be one of the most exciting wine regions in the world right now. After 300 years of producing port, the most famous fortified dessert wine in the world, Portugal has begun producing world-class table wines.
New whites and reds are coming out in a dizzying assortment. Luckily for American consumers, nearly all of them are high quality and fun to drink. The Prazo de Roriz is a great example of what is happening.
Rupert Symington, whose family has produced port for five generations, and Bruno Prats, longtime owner of Bordeaux’s famous Cos d’Estournel, joined forces to create fine non-fortified wine in Portugal’s Douro DOC region.
Combining great grapes from the Douro with modern winemaking techniques from the most famous wine region in the world offered great promise for the wine. Prats & Symington delivered big time.
The first wine from the 2000 vintage was an instant hit. It was called Chryseia, which mean “golden” in ancient Greek. Douro also means golden.
Several years later the partners bought the historic Douro estate Quinta de Roriz and built a state of the art winery. Prazo de Roriz had been produced on the estate for years, but the new partners remade the wine, with modern techniques used to produce the best French wine.
The result is an outstanding wine at a reasonable price.
It is a beautiful ruby color in the glass, with a fruity, spicy aroma with a touch of eucalyptus. On the palate the flavors are raspberry, black cherries and peppery tannins. The lingering finish adds another note of spice.
The blend of traditional Portugese grapes reminded me of a Cabernet Franc.
The grapes are Tinta Barroca, 37 percent; Old Vines 18 percent; Touriga Nacional 16 percent; Touriga Franca, 15 percent; Tinta Amarela, 7 percent and Tinto Cão, 7 percent.
After hand picking, the grapes were manually sorted, inoculated with selected yeast, macerated and cool fermented by lot in stainless steel tanks with frequent pump-overs. The wine then spent several months in mainly second year large oak barrels.
I have been enjoying outstanding red and white Portugese wines for several years, and this is one of the better ones I’ve had. It is a treat now, and should continue to improve in the bottle for at least another year.
Winery: Prats & Symington is an interesting combination of two traditions: the outstanding grapes of the Douro processed with the modern techniques used to produce some of the best wines in the world in Bordeaux.
After five generations, the Symington family had extensive knowledge of the best terroir and grape varieties in the Douro. Bruno Prats brought his winemaking skills from the Bordeaux and other regions to take grapes usually bound for Port production and make them into first class dinner wines.
They brought out a wine of balance and finesse by using the Bordeaux techniques of prolonged maceration and gentle and gradual extraction of tannins.
The introduction of Chryseia was followed in 2002 with Post Scriptum. Quinta de Roriz was purchased in 2009 and Prazo de Roriz was made using these new techniques.
Andrew James Symington first became established in the city of Porto in 1882. He quickly became a Port wine shipper and in 1914 assumed control of Warre’s. The descendants of his three sons are now the owners of Warre’s, Dow’s and Graham’s, in addition to numerous estates which include some of the best in the Cima Corgo.
The family’s vineyard holdings in the Douro now exceed 220 acres. Charles Symington is responsible for the vineyards, vinification and production management, while Rupert, Paul, John and Dominic travel all over the world sharing the magic and secrets of their wines.
After the sale of the Château Cos d’Estournel which he had managed for 30 years, Bruno Prats turned his wine growing activities to Viña Aquitania in Chile where he established a partnership with Paul Pontallier, Ghislain de Montgolfier and Felipe de Solminihac, and to Anwilka in South Africa, in partnership with Lowell Jooste and Hubert de Bouard de Laforest.
The friendship between Bruno Prats and the Symington family was developed through the family winery network Primum Familiae Vini, to which Cos d’Estournel also belonged.
In November 1998, the Symington family proposed that Bruno Prats should take part in a new project to produce a top quality, non-fortified Douro wine. This proposal took shape in 1999 with the creation of Prats & Symington Limitada as an equal partnership between the two families.
Working with Prats, Charles Symington is the winemakers, and Luis Coelho coordinates with both as oenologist and viticulturalist.
Goes with: My wife Teri and I had this wine with grilled steak and grilled pork loin. It went well with both entrees.
I grilled the steak quickly on a gas grill, using only a light dusting of herbs. For the boneless pork I used a dry rub of some Hawaiian spices I had. So the meats had a nice little kick that brought out the lush fruit of the wine.
We had baked potatoes, sauteed apples, peas and cut veggies to accompany the meat.
Prazo de Roriz also would go well with red meat, especially rare roast beef, and a wide assortment of cheese.
Prazo de Roriz 2011, Douro