Dow’s

Dow’s

The roots of Dow’s standing as a great Port house reach back over 200 years. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Dow’s Vintage Ports have been landmark wines in virtually every great year, consistently setting the standard amongst all Port houses. Vintage Ports such as the remarkable Dow 1896, the 1927, 1945 1955, 1963 and so on until the Dow 1994 are all legends in the history of this great wine. These Ports are still  magnificent today, even when 50 or 100 years old. Few wines can claim this quality and pedigree. In 1912, Andrew Symington became a partner in Dow’s and today five members of the family own and work in the company: they personally manage all aspects of winemaking from the vineyard to the final bottling.

Douro Valley
Portugal

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 recognisable hallmark of the wines from this great Port house.

“The Vintage Ports of Dow are some of the most consistently well-made Ports available”.
James Suckling, Vintage Port

Viticulture

One of the Douro Valley’s finest vineyards, Bomfim is the heart of the company’s greatest Ports, having provided the main structure for Dow’s Vintages since it was acquired in 1896. One of the classic River Quintas of the Douro and one of its most beautiful vineyards, Senhora da Ribeira is located 24km (15 miles) upriver from Quinta do Bomfim, a relatively short distance that belies the distinctive characteristics of each property. Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira is set in the remote, hot and dry Douro Superior and commands a magnificent north bank position, overlooking a broad sweep of the Douro, directly opposite another Symington family-owned vineyard: Quinta do Vesuvio. The quinta was built close to an ancient and strategic river crossing, guarded by two 12th century hilltop castles, either side of the Douro. A small chapel dedicated to the ‘Lady of the River’ (literally: Senhora da Ribeira) has stood here for centuries and gave the quinta its name. Travellers would make a pause to pray for a safe river passage and onward journey. Senhora da Ribeira’s wines are some of the finest in the Douro and they complement those from Bomfim in the composition of Dow’s classic Vintage Ports.

Winemaking

Dow’s is a key innovator in winemaking technology, having pioneered the design and production of the unique robotic lagares. The Wines For over two hundred years Dow’s Ports with their distinctive dry finish have been considered as being amongst the finest ever produced. Whilst the majority of Port is now made with modern methods using state-of-the-art vinification technology, a small proportion is still produced by the time-honoured method of treading. In either system, fermentations are relatively short (two to three days) because Port is a fortified wine. Fortification, which involves the addition of natural grape spirit to the fermenting juice, intentionally interrupts the fermentation process at a point when approximately half of the grapes’ natural sugar has been converted into alcohol. This accounts for Port’s characteristic rich, luscious style and also contributes to the wine’s considerable ageing potential. Given the short fermentation cycle it is crucial to extract as much flavour, colour and tannins as possible from the grape skins. Dow’s continues to make some of its Port by treading in stone ‘lagares’ (shallow treading tanks). The Upper Douro is one of the last places in the world where traditional treading has been maintained. This is not done to entertain visitors but quite simply because it continues to produce some of the best Ports. However, the old lagares require manpower, an increasingly scarce resource in the Upper Douro and temperature control is difficult. In order to address these problems, Dow’s winemaking team developed the world’s first purpose built automated treading machine. This ‘robotic lagar’ is a low and square stainless steel tank fitted with mechanical treading pistons whose gentle movements replicate the action of the human foot by actually treading the grapes against the floor of the tank, unlike other methods recently introduced to the Douro which simply push the ‘cap’ down into the juice beneath. Trials with the prototype started at Dow’s Sol winery during the 1998 vintage and were continued with further development during the 1999 vintage. By the 2001 harvest, three robotic lagares had been fitted in the newly refurbished winery at Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira and they were to immediately prove their worth, making simply outstanding wines. They have produced Ports that surpass the quality of traditional foot treading lagares, while at the same time eliminating the latter’s shortcomings. The introduction of Dow’s robotic lagares has proven to be a landmark in winemaking in the Douro Valley.

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