One of the joys of browsing the shelves of a wine store is finding a special bargain, a discounted wine that is worth far more than its price. At Bin Ends in Braintree, they have a special bin filled with assorted wines, all discounted 50%. Some of these wines were once rather expensive, over $100, so the discount can be quite substantial.
On one of my last visits to Bin Ends, I found a high-end Portuguese wine in this bin, the 2003 Prats and Symington Chryseia from the Douro region. It normally sold for $60 but was discounted to $30. I have tried many inexpensive Portuguese wines, but few higher-end ones so I decided to buy it and give it a try.
The Chryseia is the product of an alliance between the Symington family and Bruno Prats. The Symington family has been producing Port since 1882 and currently owns the Port Companies of Warre, Dow, Graham and Quinta do Vesuvio. Bruno Prats is a wine maker from Bordeaux and is also the former owner of Chateau Cos d'Estournel. The alliance between Symington and Prats began in 1998 with the objective of creating a high quality Douro wine. This led to their first vintage, the 2000 Chryseia.
"Chryseia is made from Touriga Nacional, a low yielding variety of great complexity and finesse, and Touriga Franca (was Touriga Francesa) which is more tannic. Also used are Tinta Roriz, known as Tinto del País (Tempranillo) in Ribera del Duero, and Tinto Cão, a variety with a most attractive aroma." The percentage of the grapes is generally not given and will vary from vintage to vintage. In addition, the Chryseia is only produced in good vintages. The 2003 vintage was notable for a very hot summer but some light rain at the start of September allowed the grapes to develop well. The harvest also took place under excellent conditions.
This wine had a deep purple color and the nose was a bit muted at first until it sat a bit. After some time, the nose gave hints of dark berries and floral notes. When I tasted the wine I found it rich and concentrated, with flavors of ripe plum, blackberry and a little chocolate. It was incredibly smooth, with very restrained tannins and a lengthy finish. An elegant wine that reminded me a bit of a Bordeaux, except it had its own unique taste in the background. That unique flavor is what I usually associate with indigenous Portuguese grapes. And the longer the wine sat and breathed, the more complexity it seemed to possess. I had some of the wine the next night and it seemed even richer and bolder.
On the first night, I paired the wine with some lamb tips, which had been obtained from a local arm. The lamb had a stronger flavor than the usual lamb tips but this wine paired well with them, its rich flavors complementing the flavor of the lamb. Overall, I was very pleased with this wine, especially as I bought it at such a great price. It is more than a simple table wine, having much more depth and flavor. With its mild tannins, it will also pair well with many different foods. If you can find this wine, buy it.
For more information, you can check out the interesting Catavino interview with Bruno Pats.