Leading port house Graham’s, owned by the Symington family, has announced the bottling of six casks of 1974 Single Harvest Tawny Port – to be released as one of the three rare wines in its Cellar Master’s Trilogy collection.
Paying tribute to the cellar masters, coopers and tasters that have accompanied its ageing for almost half a century, the 1974 Single Harvest Tawny will be released under ‘The Artisan’ label of Graham’s Cellar Master’s Trilogy collection. Born in a turbulent year, this outstanding Tawny Port is the result of a decision taken to set aside the very best wines from the harvest to mature in oak casks.
1974 was a pivotal year for Portugal. On the 25th of April, a military-led coup overthrew the dictatorship which had governed Portugal for half a century. The subsequent social and political tensions created much uncertainty throughout the country. While port producers in the Douro Valley faced the 1974 harvest with some trepidation, their concerns were largely unrealised. Michael Symington, third generation port producer, wrote in his harvest notes, dated October 1974: “Here all has been very peaceful and many report one of the happiest ‘vintage atmospheres’ for many years.” On the wines themselves, he noted: “The overall 1974 port wine vintage must prove to be one of the best for many years.”
However, in the context of an uncertain economic climate, the Symington family decided not to bottle and release any Vintage Port from the 1974 harvest. Instead, the top wines produced from field blends at Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos were selected for long-term ageing in seasoned oak casks. As head winemaker, taster and blender, Peter Symington nurtured the development of the wine before passing this responsibility to his son Charles. After nearly five decades maturing in the Graham’s cellars, Charles has selected six of the finest casks for bottling.
This remarkable wine displays complex dried fruit aromas with subtle caramel, vanilla and ginger notes. The palate is silky and elegant, with a zest of soft, tingling tannins which continue to underpin the structure and the wine’s vitality.
“It is an emotional moment making a decision to bottle such an extraordinary wine with such historical significance that has been quietly ageing in our cellars for so long,” says Charles Symington, Head Winemaker. “The 1974 Single Harvest Tawny was able to stay the course where other wines would not have been able to. This is testament to the quality of the original fruit and the skilled care and attention that the wine has received since.”
Bottled under ‘The Artisan’ label of Graham’s Cellar Master’s Trilogy collection, the 1974 will replace the 1963 Single Harvest Tawny whose last remaining cask has been released. The other two Single Harvest Tawny Ports in the collection are The Apprentice – 1994 and The Master – 1940. Together, these three wines celebrate the skills, experience and craftsmanship honed by a few to age Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny Ports. Graham’s Cellars Master’s Trilogy won the Best Design for Fortified Brand award in the Wine Design Challenge 2020.