Warre's

Warre’s Vintage Ports combine elegance, length and balance whilst still retaining the underlying rich opulence of great Vintage Port.

History

The firm now known as Warre & Co existed as early as 1670, founded by Willliam Warre whose trading operations included the shipping of woollen goods from his native Somerset to the East Indies and Brazil.  Wool was also the basis of trade with northern Portugal, in exchange for olive oil, fruit and wine, and so William Warre was trading actively through Porto and also Viana do Castelo, another great port at the mouth of the Minho river, to the north of Porto.  Subsequently William Warre’s trading interests took him to India, and it was his grandson, also William Warre, who ultimately settled in Porto in 1729 and became a partner in the firm of Clark & Thornton which was focussed on the trading of wine from the Douro.  In 1791 records show that 21 firms shipped just over 30,000 pipes of Port, of which Warre & Sons accounted for 2,937 pipes, almost 10% of the total.

The descendants of that Willliam Warre remained in Porto for two centuries, longer than any other English family of that era, and members of the family were well known for civic and military achievements as well as their standing and influence within the Port trade. 

The firm was the first British Port company to be founded in Portugal, the first to buy land and build a lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia to age their wines in the temperate maritime climate at the mouth of the Douro, and the first to launch a branded Port - the famous Warrior reserve ruby, still produced over 250 years later. 

In 1905 Andrew James Symington joined Warre & Co as a partner, and in 1912 formed a partnership with George Acheson Warre (then with Dow’s) to jointly manage the Douro vineyards for both Warre’s and Dow’s.  The Warre family subsequently returned to England, where they managed sales and the London office of the firm, and ultimately the Symington family took full ownership of the firm in the 1960’s. 

A more detailed history of Warre’s and the Symington family can be found on the Warre’s website.

Quintas

Warre’s flagship property, which sets the style of its Vintage Ports, is Quinta da Cavadinha.  Located in the valley of the Pinhão river, just 4km north of the Douro and the town of Pinhão, this vineyard enjoys a predominantly south-easterly aspect, and rises from 150 to 320 metres.  The lower vineyards nearest the river have a relatively gentle gradient and enjoy a concentration of heat created by and held within the narrow river gorge.  The terrain then climbs very sharply, and the vineyards higher up enjoy a much cooler, airier microclimate.  The blend of wines from the lower vineyard (tannic, concentrated, floral) and the upper vineyards (fresh, elegant, subtle) establish the unique flavour profile of Warre’s Vintage Ports.  The property is an old and well known one, which has featured in both the poetry and prose of Miguel Torga, one of Portugal’s most well known 20th century writers.

Just above Cavadinha are two small vineyards privately owned by members of the Symington family, Quinta do Alvito and Quinta das Netas.  At altitudes between 350 and 480 metres, these properties are considerably cooler than river front or lower altitude vineyards and their grapes contribute freshness, elegance and fine acidity to Warre’s blends.

In the Rio Torto Valley, south of Pinhão, Warre’s has Quinta do Retiro Antigo, with some of the most beautiful stone terraces in the region.  This valley is renowned for the quality of its Ports, and this particular property has featured in both the original Douro Demarcation map of 1756 and Baron Forrester’s 19th century map of the region.  The microclimate in this valley is very dry and as in the lower areas of Cavadinha, the narrow river valley concentrates the heat and ensures full ripening most years.

Since 2006 Quinta da Telhada in the Douro Superior has also contributed to the Warre’s blends.  Situated on the north bank of the river, east of Senhora da Ribeira and Vesuvio, this incredibly remote vineyard is just 25 km from the border with Spain.  It has a hot and dry climate, with an average rainfall just one third of Cavadinha’s.

See detailed viticultural profiles for all these Quintas:  Cavadinha (which bottles a Quinta Vintage Port), Retiro Antigo, and Telhada.

Flavour Profile

Warre’s Vintage Ports combine elegance, length and balance whilst still retaining the underlying rich opulence of great Vintage Port.

The Wines

Warre's declares a Vintage Port only in exceptional years, perhaps three times in a decade, and in the intervening years may produce a Quinta Vintage Port from Quinta da Cavadinha.  The Cavadinha Vintage Ports will be aged in our cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia for 10 years or more after harvest before being released to the market, ready for enjoyment.

Warre’s Vintage Ports are among the greatest ever made, their late 19th and early 20th century wines establishing a reputation that has never faltered:  1870, 1887, 1896, 1904 and 1908 were all legends in their time, the 1963 is a benchmark, 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2007 all highly praised and rated by critics.  The consistency of Warre’s quality is simply extraordinary.

Michael Broadbent in his book Vintage Wine, gave eight “5 star” ratings during the period 1945-2000: 1945, 1955, 1966, 1970, 1985, 1994, 1997, 2000.  His notes for all the 20th century Vintages consistently remark on the elegance and balance of Warre’s.

1945 (5 Stars) …beautiful colour, lively, lovely gradation. Very forthcoming indeed fairly forceful nose, brandy evident. A powerful wine with cockle-warming alcohol, crisp, lovely texture and elegance - for me the hallmark of Warre. Absolutely glorious. Perfection.

Seven Warre’s Vintage Ports have been rated 90 points or more by Robert Parker: 1977 (92), 1983 (90), 1985 (90), 1994 (94), 2000 (91), 2003 (93), 2007 (93).

1994 (94 points) One of the finest Warre’s I have ever tasted, this opaque purple-coloured wine is made in a drier style, yet it is expressive, extremely full-bodied, with superb richness, purity, and well-integrated alcohol and tannin. It possesses a great mid-palate as well as impressive length. Tasters should note of the wealth of peppery, liquorice-scented and flavoured raspberry and blackcurrant fruit. This is a profound example of Warre vintage port.

Twelve Warre’s Vintage Ports rated 90 points or more by Wine Spectator:1927 (93), 1947 (91), 1960 (90), 1963 (92), 1966 (91), 1977 (92), 1985 (91), 1991 (91), 1994 (95), 1997 (94), 2000 (91), 2007 (95).

2007 (95 Points) I love the nose on this, with blackberry, black licorice, and dark chocolate. Full-bodied, medium sweet and very, very dense. What seductive mouth feel, with polished, round tannins that caress the palate. This may be better than the fantastic 1994. Score: 95-98/100

See details of all the years in which Warre's Quinta da Cavadinha was made

  1. 2012
  2. 2010
  3. 2006
  4. 2005
  5. 2004
  6. 2002
  7. 2001
  8. 1999
  9. 1998
  10. 1996
  11. 1995
  12. 1992
  13. 1990
  14. 1989
  15. 1988
  16. 1987
  17. 1986
  18. 1984
  19. 1982
  20. 1979
  21. 1978


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