Cockburn’s was founded in 1815, the year of the Battle of Waterloo, by the Scottish brothers Robert and John Cockburn (pronounced co-burn). Originally wine merchants from Leith, Scotland, their Port house was founded to secure a supply of wines from the Douro valley. Robert declared upon founding the company: “The quality of the wine – that is the first thing to be looked to”. The next phase of Cockburn’s history was forged by a group of remarkable families – the Smithes, the Teages, and the Cobbs – who followed Robert’s vision and developed the company into one of the greatest Port producers. The Vintage Ports produced invariably fetched the highest prices in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fast-forward to 2010 and the present day, the Cockburn’s Port house is once again in family-owned hands with the Symington family. After years of a declining reputation, the Symington’s have brought new life to this historic House by immediately refocusing on the vineyards and the quality of its Port wines. Since that time, Cockburn’s Ports are once again winning international acclaim, launching with the debut 2011, the excellent 2015 and the remarkable 2016.
The principle structure for the 2016, provided by Quinta dos Canais was complemented, as in all Cockburn’s Vintage Ports, by the finest production from the small Quinta do Vale Coelho vineyard (13 hectares only), 10km upriver. Vale Coelho adds the seasoning to the blend, with its Sousao grapes bringing acidity and an attractive spicy element. A further contribution came from a vineyard at Quinta do Cachao de Arnozelo, owned privately by a member of the Symington family, just around a bend in the river from Canais. Its Alicante Bouschet has added an extra dimension to the wine.
The total blend for the limited 2016 production comprises 62% Touriga Nacional, 21% Touriga Franca, 9% Sousao and 8% Alicante Bouschet.
Aromas of red fruits with lots of black fruits, anise and hints of clove and ginger. On the palate: focused red fruit flavours and black cherry plus notes of dark chocolate. A dry character with complex sweet spices and meaty hints. Lots of finesse and elegance with a concentrated and structured long finish. Exceptional value and a stand-out example of the 2016 vintage. It has the dual-nature of being a Port that will age extremely well and is approachable in youth. It is drinking fantastically well now and will continue to do so for many more decades to come.
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