The Symington family have launched the first wines from their new project at Quinta da Fonte Souto in the exciting Portalegre sub-region of the Alentejo in southern Portugal. After five generations in Portugal, the acquisition of the Fonte Souto estate in 2017 marks the first time that this leading port and Douro wine family have ventured beyond their traditional heartland in the north of the country.
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 cooler and wetter microclimate of the Portalegre sub-region merges the Mediterranean climate of the surrounding area with strong Atlantic influences. The schist and granite soils produce superbly structured and balanced wines whose main characteristics are freshness, complexity, elegance and the promise of great longevity.
The initial range of five estate wines, produced by Head Winemaker Charles Symington, has Vinha do Souto as its flagship (a beautifully structured and balanced red made with Syrah and Alicante Bouschet), a pair of red and white wines under the Quinta da Fonte Souto label (using Portuguese and international grape varieties), and a red and a white under the Florão label, made in a more approachable style for drinking young. The wines will be available in various international markets.
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.
The family are also implementing 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.
‘This stunning property has many appealing characteristics for our family. 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.’
Rupert Symington – CEO, Symington Family Estates