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Altano Douro 2011
Altano is produced by the Symingtons, a leading winemaking family of Scottish, English and Portuguese ancestry who have been making Port in the Douro for five generations.
Today, the family own the largest collection of individual vineyards in the Douro Valley – a unique landholding of 26 Quintas in the prime Cima-Corgo and Douro Superior subregions. This sustained strategy of reinvestment in the region’s finest vineyards is unmatched by any producer.
In 1999, Symington Family Estates began producing Douro wines from the same vineyards that had always made great Port. Today, these Douro DOC wines enjoy global distribution and have received widespread recognition for their quality and distinctiveness.
In a region where producers have historically relied on buying grapes, generations of Symington winemakers have put vineyard ownership at the heart of the family’s winemaking philosophy.
The family are strong believers in the Douro’s indigenous grape varieties and producing quality wines that showcase the uniqueness of the region, its terroirs, and natural flavors and aromas.
All Symington vineyards are managed under sustainable viticulture practices which aim for minimum intervention, in order to protect and promote biodiversity, and the family farm the largest organic vineyard in the Douro (112 hectares).
The philosophy of minimum intervention is also followed in the winery, with small batches of grapes being carefully handled with the use of modern technology to safeguard and maximize quality.
Best known for intense, impressive and age-worthy fortified wines, Portugal relies almost exclusively on its many indigenous grape varieties. Bordering Spain to its north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean on its west and south coasts, this is a land where tradition reigns supreme, due to its relative geographical and, for much of the 20th century, political isolation. A long and narrow but small country, Portugal claims considerable diversity in climate and wine styles, with milder weather in the north and significantly more rainfall near the coast.
While Port (named after its city of Oporto on the Atlantic Coast at the end of the Douro Valley), made Portugal famous, Portugal is also an excellent source of dry red and white wines of various styles.
The Duoro Valley produces full-bodied and concentrated dry red wines made from the same set of grape varieties used for Port, which include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Spain’s Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão, among a long list of others in minor proportions.
Other dry wines include the tart, slightly effervescent Vinho Verde white wine, made in the north, and the bright, elegant reds and whites of the Dão as well as the bold, and fruit-driven reds and whites of the southern, Alentejo.
The nation’s other important fortified wine, Madeira, is produced on the eponymous island off the North African coast.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.