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Symington reveals first wines made outside the Douro

Published:  29 May, 2019

The Symington family has launched the first wines from its new project at Quinta da Fonte Souto in the Portalegre sub-region of the Alentejo in southern Portugal.

The initial Alentejo range of five estate wines, produced by head winemaker Charles Symington, has Vinha do Souto as its flagship –a balanced red made with Syrah and Alicante Bouschet, a pair of red and white wines under the Quinta da Fonte Souto label made using Portuguese and international grape varieties, and a red and a white under the Florão label which are made in a “more approachable style for drinking young”.

The Alentejo wines will be available in various international markets, including the UK where the first shipment is expected mid to late June and will be exclusive to The Wine Society.   

The Fonte Souto estate is situated between 490 and 550 metres on the slopes of the Serra de São Mamede mountain range, which reaches a height of 1,025 metres (3,633 feet) and is the highest point in Portugal south of the Tagus River.

The property had “many appealing characteristics for our family”, said chief executive Rupert Symington.

“With its higher altitude, it has a cooler, wetter microclimate than the hot Alentejo plain, and its less fertile soils produce low yields of excellent quality grapes. Both factors make it an ideal site for us, given our long experience in the challenging conditions of the Douro. We believe we can produce some really special and unique wines from these vineyards.”

After five generations in Portugal, the acquisition of the Fonte Souto estate in 2017 marked the first time the port and Douro wine family had ventured beyond its traditional heartland in the north of the country.

Symington has also implemented a reforestation programme on 100 hectares (1 million square metres) of the Fonte Souto estate that lie within the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park, replanting with indigenous Portuguese tree species that are more resistant to forest fires and act as a natural form of carbon capture. The forest will be managed as a nature reserve to protect local biodiversity.

Since the Symington family acquired Quinta da Fonte Souto, a series of other leading Portuguese wine producers have also bought vineyards in the Portalegre sub-region, attracted by its cooler microclimate and potential for producing distinctive and high-quality wines.