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2016 Prats + Symington Chryseia
Can Portugal Produce a Grand Cru Red?
April 3, 2021
Quinta do Roriz
The Symington family. proprietors of Dow, Graham, and other fine port houses set out to do that partnership with Bruno Prats, retired owner of Bordeaux's 'super second' Chateau Cos d'Estournel.
Portugal has noble grapes - Its Touriga Nacional was recently admitted to the pantheon of grapes permitted in Bordeaux. The Douro River, where those grapes are grown for port, has fine schist-influenced soils. Prime sites have been found and cultivated in a centuries-long winemaking tradition.
Bruno Prats brought a taste and technical ability developed in his long years at Cos, not to recreate a Bordeaux, but express its sensibility of poise and balance using different grapes from a different region. The winemaking is a collaboration between the two families.
Prats & Symington is now almost 20 years old. That time has been well spent. They have come to focus on two grape varieties; Touriga Nacional, giving structure and grace parallel to Cabernet, and Touriga Franca to add breadth a la Merlot, and spice also. Centering on their Quinta do Roriz estate, they add the best grapes of two other nearby properties with strongly mineral soils and favorable exposures. They call their wine Chryseia, 'Golden' in Greek as Douro means in Portuguese
In a zoom tasting a few weeks ago with the P&S owners, Rupert Symington told how he had been struck by the power and finesse of Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline in a vertical tasting and sought to emulate his style.
"Trust but verify," the Russian adage popularized by Ronald Reagan, is one I go by, so after the zoom, I trotted two of the opened tasting bottles over to a friend who had the major role in bringing Guigal into the US.
I gave them to him blind, saying only that they were two vintages of an essay in making a grand vin which he had probably not tasted before, and that they had been open for 5- 6 hours.
I asked him what he thought of their quality and winemaking.
As careful with his words as his taste, he allowed that they were very good and guessed that they might have come from the Rhone or southern France. He preferred the mature 2007 to the upcoming 2017 release.
I agreed about the wines' characters. Both were from great Douro vintages. At my friend's house, the 2007 had bloomed even more than it had in the zoom tasting and showed a tantalizingly sensual maturity. I was more excited by the possibilities of the 2017. I felt it showed a greater breed and finesse and would be the better wine with age, that the 10 years between the vintages, P&S had refined their Chryseia.
This brings us to the 2016 Chryseia. Critics have reviewed it as well as the 2017.
Wine Spectator - "An impressive red that shows finesse to the generous profile of cherry tart, red plum and raspberry gelée notes, cast with licorice, Earl Grey tea, pepper and graphite details. Aromas of violet and mocha echo on the tannic finish. Needs a few years in the cellar. Best from 2021 through 2031."
Decanter's appreciation reads as if written by an Oxford don
"elegant, highly broachable, with lovely fluidity, freshness, and purity of black plum and blackberry fruit. Ultra-fine tannins do nothing to impede the flow, showcasing salty, schistous minerality, fragrant orange blossom, and violets to the long finish. Deceptive levity. Drinking Window 2019 – 2031"
The 2016 is approachable now. I took Decanter's 'levity' as lightness not humor. On opening, the wine is shy and deceptively light. It wants a few hours decant to flesh out and show its stuff. Give it a few more years in the cellar. You will get the heady aroma and layered rich mouthfeel mouth of the 2007.
The 2016 Chryseia has the sort of higher-toned finesse akin to that of a fine Cote Rotie Cote Blonde, but it is neither Rhone nor Bordeaux. It has a grand vin's essential quality; It is itself and it is very, very good.
Our importer has to let go of the 2016 before they can take the 2017, and has offered his remaining stock to us at a discount which we are happy to pass on to you. There is a limited amount.
2016 Prats & Symington Chryseia Excellent – Outstanding was 90 now $79
Special; Six bottle case in wood $414 (69)
Order by phone at 617.367.8605, or reserve here: firstname.lastname@example.org
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