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Bruno Prats – An international wine reference

It is one of the great names of world oenology and has in Portugal a solid partnership with the Symington family, in the production of one of the most emblematic Douro DOC wines, Chryseia. A charismatic gentleman of engaging personality.

What did you want to be when you were little? As F
ar as I can remember, I always wanted to be an winemaker. The vocation arose at the age of 9 when I participated, in a not very efficient way, in the 1953 harvests of the Chateau Cos d'Estournel (laughs).

How old did you start enjoying wines?
I'm from a family dedicated to wines. My grandfather on my mother's part was Fernand Ginestet, owner of chateau margaux, chateau cos d'Estournel and Chateau Petit Village. I started to taste wine early, around the age of twelve, and at fifteen I started drinking it, sparingly, of course...

What was the first wine you've tasted and with whom, rem
ember? The wine served every day at our table was a soft, pale wine, which was also made in our family home, the Chateau Cos d'Estournel, in Saint Estèphe. This was probably the first wine I tasted, but I don't have an accurate memory, I can't guarantee it!

What was the wine served at your wedding?
It was a Chateau de Marbuzet, the second wine of chateau cos d'Estournel. But I don't remember the harvest year, honestly, my attention was focused on something else (laughs).

Who was the personality in the wine world that most influence
d him? Philippe de Rothschild was always very kind to me when I started working at the age of 24. I admire you for your futuristic view of the region and bordeaux wines. He was the first to bet on the mandatory bottling of wines, the first to organize visits to the wineries and the first to associate wine with art.

What wines have tasted to date that impressed you the most? It was a C
hateau Margaux from 1900, and I was lucky enough to prove it three times. The wine was incredibly fresh, round, soft, elegant, perfectly balanced. The archetype of a great Bordeaux wine. The Cos d'Estournel 1870 also marked my memory, I was quite impressed ...

Your partnership with symington is a success. Chryseia is one of the best Portuguese wines... What do you have to say about this jo
b? James Symington was very generous in offering me the opportunity to work with his family on the Chryseia project. Logically, they could have done Chryseia without me, but it probably would have been in a different style. My contribution has helped Chryseia become probably the most elegant DOC wine in the Douro, and I am very proud of it. I have always known that the Douro has one of the best terroirs in the world and that the varieties of local grapes are perfectly suited to this terroir. I am confident that, in the near future, Douro DOC wines will be world famous and will have the same visibility as the great wines of Porto.

What about plans for the future, new projec
ts? I've been through 70 and the plan now is to reduce my activities by giving priority to the Chryseia project. I'm also preparing the next generation. My two children are already following the Chyrseia project carefully and one of my grandchildren is already studying agronomy at university.


Biography

Born on 12 March 1944 in France, Bruno Prats is the grandson of Fernand Ginestet (famous bordeaux wine producer and owner of the mythical Château Margaux, among others), and Jean Prats (former president of Saint-Raphael, a large French company of his time). Graduated in Agronomy from the Institut Agronomique Nacional in Paris, he also has a postgraduate degree in Viticulture from the Ecole Nationale Superieure Agronomique in Montpellier. This extensive training in oenology, combined with family traditions and practical experience in bordeaux's best vineyards, made Bruno Prats a reference winemaker, being his concept of oenology a means of contrôle and not so much a means of intervention. For him, the important thing in wine is to express the characteristics of terroir.

Between 1968 and 1969, Bruno Prats worked with his uncle Pierre Ginestet at Château Margaux. In 1970, together with his mother and two brothers, he took control of the Château Cos d'Estournel, the famous Cru Classé de Saint Estephe, in the Médoc. And so it was, for 28 years, until his family decided to sell the business in September 1998.

Bruno Prats was also, for 21 years, the president of the Syndicat des Crus Classés du Médoc, member of the Académie du Vin de Bordeaux and Vice-President of academie internationale du Vin in Geneva. The President of the French Republic awarded him 'L'Ordre National du Mérite'.

Bruno Prats also makes wines in Chile, South Africa, Spain and Portugal. In the latter case, the partnership with the Symington family began in 1999. Prats & Symington produces Chryseia (a DOC Douro regarded by critics as one of the best Portuguese wines) and also Quinta de Roriz, in the Douro.