2011 Vintage Port Declaration: All of the major port houses have now declared the 2011 vintage as being of exceptional quality. For many shippers this is the first declaration since 2007. The avalanche of declarations started with Sogrape, owners of Sandeman and Ferriera. This has been followed by Symington, the company that owns Dows, Graham Warre and Cockburn and Taylor Fladgate owners of the Fonseca and Taylors brands. "The 2011 Vintage Ports are characterised by an unusual combination of elegance with power and structure. Whereas “elegant” usually implies lighter-bodied, the 2011s have fantastic aromas and great elegance but are big wines – not an easy balance to achieve. " Charles Symington, 15 March 2013 Heavy rain at the end of 2010 created the water reserves deep in the soil which were key to the progress and extraordinary success of the 2011 harvest, despite 2011 itself being a very dry year. The temperatures throughout the growing season were variable. A warmer than usual April and May resulted in vines rapidly maturing producing one of be earliest flowerings on record. A spike in the temperature in June caused some of the thinned grapes to ripen prematurely thus reducing the crop for those varieties affected. The early flowering indicated that an early harvest would be required. However, a little rain on 21 August followed by some cooler cloudier weather until early September was ideal to finalise the ripening of the grapes so that the flavours developed balancing the sugar levels perfectly.