Chryseia 2014 and the creativity of Hans Neuner

On the past July the 6th, at Ocean (** Michelin), the restaurant of Vila Vita Park Hotel, Prats & Symington – a joint venture between the Symington family and the famous producer of Bordeaux, Bruno Prats – presented, for the 13th time, its classic Chryseia, one of the most prestigious names of Douro, born in 2000 after the invite from the Symington family to Bruno Prats, for together creating a table wine to rival with the best in the world. And so it was born Chryseia, made from the Quintas of Roriz and Perdiz, a wine that on the second harvest became the first wine in the region to enter the Top100 of Wine Spectator, having even, with the successful harvest of 2011, reached the 3rd position of the ranking.

But history aside, let’s move on to the moment!

With the always careful organization of the group, all the details were taken care of to the presentation of the greatest table wine of the group; starting with the guest welcoming with the always elegant Pol Roger Pure Extra Brut. A classic and well tuned champagne, with citric and floral notes joining some bread and yeast, with a long ending and an excellent structure.

 Roger Kolbu, André Ribeirinho (Adegga) and Bruno Prats

Rodrigo Menezes, Miguel Pires and Joe Alvares-Ribeiro

And of course, after a warm reception, followed an even more interesting lunch in the renewed room of Ocean, under the watchful command of Hans Neuner.

 Rupert Symington presenting lunch 

Guests installed and presentations made, it was time to let the kitchen shine and let us get carried by the care put in every dish. And the start couldn’t have been better, Scarlet shrimp with peas, bacon and elderberry flower; and Oysters with foie gras, pineapple from Azores and hollyhock, both harmonized with a Pol Roger Brut Vintage from 2004.

Oysters with foie gras, pineapple from Azores and hollyhock

About the dishes, both flawless, by the noble combination of ingredients with seasonality and creativity, however, its impossible not to highlight the oyster dish that despite it getting a bit lost in the combo, gives freshness and a unique sea flavor subtlety. A great dish! As to the wine, it was the perfect choice, surprising from the start with its golden color, result of the evolution, with floral and quince notes in the nose and a quite delicate and gourmand mouth, ending in a citric way, making us want to keep drinking more and more…

Followed the butter and the homemade bread (with sourdough), worthy of being a dish itself.

The beautiful technical work in the creation of the butters, or “jewels”? 

The lunch wasn’t just about the presentation of Chryseia, but also the presentation of all the seals from 2014 by Prats & Symington. Starting with the Prazo de Roriz, surely with one of the best price/quality ratios in Douro, in its segment, and in 2014 with a wine starting to go from weight/concentration to elegance, in a nicely achieved mixture of several castes in which Touriga Nacional is just a complement. Red fruits, without being excessive, spices and some minerality give the tone to a wine that will assure some excellent moments to those who try it.

In our case it went very well with a Sea Bass with Black Pudding and Celery, with the heaviest notes and spices of the black pudding connecting very well with the wine, creating a beautiful dish and a great flavor palette very well matched. Superb!

Sea Bass with Black Pudding and Celery

And then, one of the most creative dishes in the menu of Hans Neuner, the Pork Cheese, which is a fake cheese, even with a seal and a wood box, in reality is a kind of ravioli made of cheese and filled with pork cheek and onion “petals” that give it another texture, dimension and freshness!

Pork Cheese

A great dish that harmonized with the Post Scriptum 2014, still a bit closed, so it will benefit from the time in the bottle, and follows the opposite direction of Prazo de Roriz, with more Touriga Nacional and concentration, dominated by ripe fruit and power, yet with great elegance and without excess. It will be another great Post Scriptum, for sure.

 Charles Symington during the presentation of Post Scriptum

Bruno Prats presenting the “honored” Chryseia 2014 

And then came the moment that took us all to Algarve, taste the latest harvest of Chryseia, the 2014, a year that according to Charles Symington had similarities with 2007 (a great year at Douro). As to the wine, it is for sure a Douro wine, with that well marked DNA in the tasting, the Touriga Franca superimposing in the lot for the first time to Touriga nacional, allowing freshness and minerality, balancing very well the power and concentration of the wine and giving it the longevity a wine of this category deserves.

Veal with onions, mushrooms and yeast dough

To “complement” Chryseia, Hans Neuner served a Veal with onions, mushrooms and yeast dough. Here with a small problem in terms of serving time, with our table being the last and the meat geting a bit overcooked, becoming a little bit dry. Super high score to the jus that accompanied the meat and deserves stars for itself.

In the sweet chapter, it was served a fresh dessert based in cherries, chocolate and cocoa. Although being a few levels behind the rest of the dishes it served its purpose well. Better was its company, a Vintage 2004 from Quinta de Roriz, still with lots of dark fruit and jam notes, connecting nicely with the cherry, and a great acidity working wonders with the chocolate. 

To finish, the usual petit fours and a fantastic Graham’s 30 years, with a beautiful color, nice freshness for its age and full of dry fruits and delicate honey notes making us want to taste it till the end (a common problem with the good Port wines).  

The line up of the day

It was a great lunch, once again proving the quality of Hans Neuner’s team at Ocean! The renovation of the room and the kitchen brought a new breath to the team and the fight for maybe a third star. As to the wine there’s no doubt this partnership between Symington and Bruno Prats creates, year after year, some of the most interesting wines in Douro.

ocean A toast to Chryseia and Douro with a Graham’s 30 years

As to these 2014’s they’re for sure another successful production!

Versão Portuguesa

Text: João Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses

We were at the presentation of Chryseia by invitation of Prats & Symington, whereas this not alter our work, being the opinion and the text of the exclusive responsibility of the author.

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