Dow's, Vintage Port, Portugal, 2016 through Merchant of Wine.

Dow's, Vintage Port, Portugal, 2016 (375ml)

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Overview of the Wine
For over two centuries the name of DOW has been associated with the finest Port from the vineyards of the Upper Douro Valley. Throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st, the Symington family has built on the legacy of the preceding Silva and Dow families. Generations of Symington winemakers have worked at the Dow’s vineyards: Quinta do Bomfim and Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira, creating from them Dow’s superbly concentrated wines that are intense and tannic when young, maturing towards a superlative racy elegance with age and scented with violet and mint aromas. Dow’s attractive and distinctive drier finish is the recognizable hallmark of the wines from this great Port house.

The principal part of the Dow’s 2016 Vintage Port is sourced from the Vinha dos Ecos vineyard, a gently rising slope behind the estate house at Bomfim. Planted in 1988, these mature Touriga Franca vines yielded a tiny 0.68 Kg/vine, half the 20-year average. From the adjoining Vale Botelhos vineyard, on traditional drystone terraces, Charles Symington chose Sousão grapes for the excellent colour and freshness which the fine acidity of this variety provides. The grapes from these two vineyards were fermented together in the modern lagar winery at Bomfim. These co-fermentations work very well, the characteristics of each variety amplifying the other’s finest qualities; the Sousão’s acidity matching the Franca’s floral aromas. A small component of very old mixed vines from the vineyard directly in front of the Bomfim house, yielding a minuscule 320g/vine, contributed added complexity and structure.

The other indispensable component of any Dow’s Vintage Port, Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira, contributed exceptionally well-ripened grapes from its mature Vinha Grande vineyard whose east-facing aspect and 200 to 450 metres of altitude, proved beneficial in the very hot and dry conditions, shielding the Touriga Nacional vines during the ripening cycles. Senhora da Ribeira’s small riverside Zé Barqueiro vineyard supplied Alicante Bouschet which gives the wine great structure and weight. Senhora da Ribeira’s production was vinified in the Quinta’s small lagar winery.

Grape / Blend
Port; Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Sousão, Old Vines

Origin
Portugal

Winemaker's Tasting Notes
Very Dow in intensity, nervous and tense as a thoroughbred. Typically Dow's in the aromatic depth with touch of black plums and shale powder with notes of rosemary and violets. Voluminous on the palate. A well toned wine of impressive structure.

Vintage Ports are after meal drinks. Take them with cheese like Stilton or Gorgonzola. But you can also incorporate them into a meal, combining for instance a Steak au Poivre with a young Vintage.

98 Points - Decanter
Based on Touriga Franca with Touriga Nacional and Sousão. Tight-knit, with firm, rapier-like tannins on the palate – a ramrod all the way through with the opulence and flesh of the fruit on the finish. Fine-grained with great purity and expression. Leaner and much more restrained in style than others: the drier style of Dow works really well in ripe years such as 2016 (as it did in 2011). Outstanding wine for the long term.

98 Points - Wine Spectator
This packs a lot of fun, with a wallop of blackberry, fig, boysenberry and açai berry compote flavors working together, laced with a mouthwatering licorice snap note and driven by a fresh, well-detailed finish. A roasted apple wood accent is integrated as well, lending textural contrast through the vivacious finish. Best from 2030 through 2055.

97 Points - Wine Enthusiast 
Very floral, intense and ripe, this is a wine that is based around big black fruits as well as fine acidity. It is obviously destined for long aging with its powerful dry tannins and perfumed acidity. Drink this wine from 2028.

96 Points - James Suckling
Aromas of blueberries, blackberries and dried flowers plus hints of slate follow through to a full body, very fine tannins and a driven and linear finish. Orange peel and dried fruit. Sleek and racy. Ready to try in 2024.

About the Producer

The story of Dow’s is unusual amongst all the great Port houses. It began in 1798 when Bruno da Silva, a Portuguese merchant from Oporto, made a journey which was the opposite to that of the first British merchants. Bruno set up in London from where he imported wine from his native country. He married an Englishwoman and was rapidly assimilated into London society where his business acumen led to a fine reputation for his wines. But the outbreak of the Napoleonic wars put his business in jeopardy. Undaunted, Bruno da Silva applied for ‘letters of marque’ (Royal Assent to equip a merchant ship with guns) to secure safe passage of his Port from Oporto to Bristol and to London. His became the first and only Port company to transport its precious cargo of casks of fine Ports under its own armed protection across the treacherous Bay of Biscay, a strong dissuasion to attack during a period when less audacious companies saw their sales dwindle away.

The Port shipping business was continued by Bruno’s son, John da Silva who in 1862 brought into partnership Frederick William Cosens. Together with John’s son, Edward, they became the active partners in Silva & Cosens. Edward da Silva inherited his grandfather’s business ability and the company continued to prosper. Edward became a highly respected figure in the London wine trade and was one of the founders of the Wine Trade Benevolent Society, the leading charity which survives to this day as the principal British wine trade organisation. Edward da Silva was to be the Benevolent’s chairman and then, from 1892, its president for many years.

With the continuing expansion of the firm, Edward da Silva and Frederick Cosens were joined by George Acheson Warre, whose well known family had been involved in the Port trade since its earliest years. ‘GAW’ joined as partner in 1868 and became its driving force in Portugal.

In 1877, Silva & Cosens merged with another leading Port company, Dow & Co, who’s senior partner was James Ramsay Dow, who had made a name for himself in 1856 with the publication of his important treatise, ‘An Inquiry into the Vine Fungus with Suggestions as to a Remedy.’ The Oidium fungus was at the time devastating the Douro’s vineyards.

Although smaller than Silva & Cosens, Dow & Co had become a very highly regarded Port producer with a particularly fine reputation for its Vintage Ports and when the two companies merged, it was decided to adopt DOW’S as the brand name.

Product size: 375ml

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