We are delighted to be able to offer our inaugural release of Chryseia, the 2015 vintage. We have selected this vintage to debut as it is critically their finest ever, awarded 94 points from Mark Squires of The Wine Advocate. Chryseia was formed as a partnership between Bruno Prats and the Symington family (Cockburn’s, Dow’s, Graham’s and Warre’s) in 1999 and is recognised as the pioneer of the renaissance of dry, non-fortified Douro DOC Wines. In 1998 Bruno Prats, who is one of the leading winemakers and chateaux owners in Bordeaux, had just sold Chateau Cos d’Estournel. As a long-term admirer of Douro wines, on account of the great terroir and age ability of Port, when Prats was approached by Andrew Symington Chryseia was born.
The vision was to create a world class red wine, a union of the elegant Bordeaux style and the leading Douro varieties. The Symington family would provide the grapes and domestic savoir-faire, Prats, the Bordeaux tradition. The result is a wine that exemplifies depth, without too much weight, a rich body but shorn of sharpness. The marriage of Bordeaux and Porto, perhaps the two most important fine wine exports to Great Britain. The 2011, was ranked by The Wine Spectator in the Top 100 wines of 2014, disproving any fallacy around the notion that you cannot have both a great port and red wine vintage in the same year. The 2015 has surpassed the 2011 critically. The score, the pedigree and price make this vintage a must own wine. Priced today at £225 per case of six, this is unmissable for anyone who wants to try Porto’s best Bordeaux-esque wine. It is also clear from the table below, there is growing demand for older vintages, after all as Mark Squires puts it ‘this is surprisingly approachable right now, but I anticipate that it will age well for another decade—or two.’ Chryseia is a superb addition to any cellar.
Chryseia is made predominantly from Tourigna Nacional, which adds complexity and subtlety, along with Touriga Francesa, which enhances tannin. Tinta Roriz (known as Tinta del Pais locally, or Tempranillo in Spain) along with Tinto Cao are included to lift the aromatic profile. The grapes were originally selected from blocks of the Symington Quintas. In 2004 they purchased Quint da Perdiz, which lies on a steep gradient in the Rio Torto Valley and runs into the Duoro Valley near Pinhao. In 2009 they purchased Quinta Roriz, which since the eighteenth century has produced some of the very best Port Wines. This simultaneously destroyed one of the great Port terroirs, while creating some of the best red wine grapes that could be produced. This daring move catapulted Chryseia forward and was a marker of the commitment the Symington family have for this project. The vineyard is a natural amphitheatre on the banks of the Douro on the same mountain as Perdiz and taken together it means Chryseia has complete control over grape selection, fashioned from two climates. Roriz boasts traces of tin mixed with schistous soil from the old mine workings, providing natural minerality, its location ensuring cool nights during the ripening seasons, adding aromatic lift. Perdiz has a slightly warmer climate, adding a velvety nature to the wine.
The winemaking approach, as one might expect, differs from that of Port and not just on account of it not being fortified. To produce the combination of Chryseia’s elegant style with ageing potential, grapes are fermented under controlled temperatures, with a long post fermentation period. The result; only polished and wanted phenols are extracted. The wine, still in contact with skins, evolves further, developing a mid-palate and creating its lovely structure. Thereon the wine is transferred to new barrels, parallels with Bordeaux abound. The major difference begins with the use of 400 litre casks, rather than 225 barrique, which Prats introduced on account of the Douro grapes varieties greater fruit expression. Then blending; Bruno Prats and Andrew Symington taste all barrels in the winter and then the spring when the final blend is selected. If the wine has not achieved what they consider as exceptional, no Chryseia is made and its components will be used for the second wine Post Scriptum.
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