The Symington family have launched the first wines from their new project at Quinta da Fonte Souto in the Portalegre sub-region of the Alentejo in southern Portugal. These are the first wines the family has made outside the Douro—and presage more to come from this region, as producers seek out cooler areas.
The Fonte Souto estate, which Symington Family Estates acquired in 2017, is situated between 490 and 550 metres on the slopes of the Serra de São Mamede mountain range, 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.
“This stunning property has many appealing characteristics for our family,” said Rupert Symington, CEO of Symington Family Estates. “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.”
Since the Symington family acquired Quinta da Fonte Souto, 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 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.
There are five new wines, produced by head winemaker Charles Symington: Vinha do Souto, a 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 an easydrinking red and a white under the Florão label.
The Symingtons of Scottish, English and Portuguese descent have been Port producers in northern Portugal for five generations since 1882.