The historical insight given by Johnny Symington as we sipped this wine deserves to be recorded along with the tasting note. As best as I can, I have summarised what I remember of it as follows - but my memory is not at its best when trying to recall facts after a very fine evening of port. Please advise of any corrections needed.
The situation in the Douro at the time these grapes were growing was financially very tough - rationing was still affecting the UK and diminishing a main market for port. In 1954 there was little demand for vintage port. In the Douro, the British shippers were struggling, with Cockburn later being sold and the Symingtons only surviving through selling some of their properties (I forget which). When Johnny's father went upriver during harvest to visit the farmers, he did not have a car to use. Farmers, in 1952, gave their wines to the Symingtons as there was not enough money to pay for them, and just asked that they be paid when the wines had been sold on. It was against this background that the 1952 vintage ports were not bottled in 1954, but remained in barrel in a cool part of the Graham cellar. When tasted by the family in 2011, it was realised that the wines were so pure and concentrated that they would make a perfect colheita and would be ideal to to issue in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The Palace clearly agreed as the Symingtons and Berry Brothers were permitted to add a label stating that this port was selected to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee. The Loyal Toast with this port in the Bunghole Cellars was only the second loyal toast with this wine and the first in the UK.
Only 1,000 (numbered) bottles and 10 jeroboams have been released. All of the Symington's profits from the sales of the colheita will be donated to charity, principally to the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.
Last edited by AHB
on 07:57 Tue 08 May 2012, edited 1 time in total.