At Graham’s we care passionately about every aspect of our Ports, and we pursue our ideal of quality beyond the winemaking all the way through to the packaging and presentation. Our 2011 Holiday season gift box for the Graham’s 40 Year Old Tawny is one recent example.
Graham’s 40 Year Old Tawny Port is a testament to the art of blending. A Tawny Port with indication of age (10, 20, 30 or 40 years) is a blend of multiple wines of various vintages, which when combined have an average age of not less than the number of years on the bottle.
The component wines will have been selected for ageing in pipas, casks of around 550 litres, years ago. In these small casks the air which circulates through the pores of the old wood causes the wine to evaporate slowly. This micro-oxygenation concentrates the wines, and the flavour profile changes from a young, juicy, red and black fruit driven character into something altogether more subtle and complex. Over the years, the cask-aged Ports will develop a wide range of aromas such as dried fruits, nuts, caramel, tea, spices, cigars, leather and more.
Charles Symington, Graham’s head winemaker, then works with Port samples of a range of ages, each of which has a unique flavour profile, to blend this extraordinary Port. Most of the wines he will select to create the 40 Year Old Tawny will have been laid down by his father or grandfather.
Golden amber with a pale green tinge at the rim which denotes great quality and class. Very complex on the nose with a powerful fragrance that belies its age. The palate is a gamut of flavours, ranging from delicate fruit and raisins to burnt toffee and chocolate. The persistent aftertaste is sheer pleasure.
For the 2011 Holiday season we wanted to celebrate Graham’s 40 Year Old Tawny with a unique packaging that would convey the subtle and complex character of this wine.
The Presentation Box
Graham’s approached Serafim Pereira Simões Succesorers (SPSS), a firm of artisanal carpenters who are known for their collaborations with top architects such as Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto de Moura on projects in Portugal and around the world. Based in Valadares, near Vila Nova de Gaia, the firm has long standing ties to the Port trade.
We shared the 40 Year Old Tawny, and set them the challenge of designing a package to express the quality and character of the wine. Impressed by the extraordinary colour of the Tawny Port and the layers of flavour on the palate and finish, they proposed a box constructed of layers of wood, cut in graduated bottle silhouettes to frame the glass bottle within, but backless, so the light could pass through and display the extraordinary colour of the Port.
Zélia Reis, Marketing Manager for Symington Family Estates, visited the SPSS workshop to watch the boxes being constructed. Their process is a combination of cutting edge technology and exquisite hand craftsmanship – very like our own viticulture and winemaking. A computer calculates the optimum layout to cut component parts from a sheet of wood with minimal waste, and lasers cut the silhouettes precisely and burn the “branded” text on the box. The construction is done entirely by hand however, and in the photo above you see Edmundo Vieira assembling and finishing a box.
We hope this holiday season you will have a chance to enjoy the extraordinary craftsmanship that goes into both Graham’s 40 Year Old Tawny and SPSS’s wonderful gift packaging.