“Like a mother remembers the birth conditions of each of her children, I still remember the weather conditions of each of [my] 46 vintages,” said wine-industry veteran Bruno Prats after taking the stage at the 2014 Wine Experience with his Prats & Symington Douro Chryseia 2011 (97 points, $55). Prats, the former owner of Château Cos-d’Estournel in Bordeaux, began his Portuguese project in 1999 with the Port powerhouse Symington family. Prats & Symington focuses on elevating the quality of Douro Valley table wines—and the 2011 Chryseia is their most successful dry red yet.
The wine, remarked Wine Spectator managing editor Kim Marcus in his introduction, “successfully modulates the power of the Douro’s fruit with a Bordelaise finesse.” A blend of 65 percent Touriga Nacional and 35 percent Touriga Franca, it is primarily sourced from Quinta de Roriz and Quinta da Perdiz, on the left bank of the Douro River. The vineyards’ extremely steep, terraced slopes peak at 1,458 feet.
In the 2011 Chyrseia, these sites produced concentrated flavors of red plum and black olive, backed by grippy tannins and mineral notes. The 2011 vintage was “textbook” in the Douro, as Prats put it; Marcus rated the vintage 97 points for dry reds and 99 points for Vintage Port.
“What is a great terroir?” asked Prats. “For me, it’s a place that combines microclimatic conditions and soil conditions that can give to the wine more complexity than the single expression of the variety.” Likening the harmony of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca to that of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in blends, he mentioned that his winemaking style is similar to the one that he used at Cos, with one notable exception: He replaced the 223-liter barrels used in France with 400-liter barrels “because I hate over-oaking.”
“Of course, the wine is too young,” Prats said of the 2011. But those in the crowd were perfectly happy to drink it now.