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  • Country ranking ?

    72
  • Producer ranking ?

    3
  • Decanting time

    5h
  • When to drink

    from 2025

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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The Story

Dow’s Vintage Ports are only produced in years of exceptional quality and represent only a very small part of the total company’s production in that year. On average only two or three times every ten years are the weather conditions sufficiently good to allow for the making of Dow’s Vintage Port.

 

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Dow’s Vintage Ports have been landmark wines in virtually every great year, consistently setting the standards amongst all Port houses. Vintage Ports such as the remarkable Dow 1896, the 1927, 1945, 1955, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1980 and the Dow 1994 are all legends in the history of this great wine. These Ports are still magnificent today, even when 50 or over 100 years old. Few wines can claim this quality and this pedigree.

 

Dow's Vintage Ports are drawn from the companies' finest vineyards; Quinta do Bomfim and Quinta de Senhora da Ribeira. Each property contributes to the Dow’s unique and distinctive style. When young, Dow’s Vintage Ports are purple-black, austere, complex and intensely concentrated, full-bodied and balanced with very fine peppery tannins.

 

Over the centuries, the Dow winemakers have evolved a style that suits the house’s key vineyards; fermentations are a little longer, resulting in a drier Port Wine that has become the hallmark of Dow’s. Abundant fruit flavours with hints of ripe blackberries, give elegance and poise to Dow’s. The nose is deep and powerful with strong overtones of violets when young, these mature into fine cinnamon and rose-tea aromas with age. The very high percentage of Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional planted on the vineyards result in the powerful structure and aging potential of Dow’s Vintage Ports

 

Dow’s Ports avoid an over-rich style and requires a very high degree of skill in wine making and great experience in selecting the finest wines of each year and each vineyard. These wines are aged in seasoned oak casks for some 18 months and are bottled without any filtration or fining whatsoever. Dow Vintage Ports can be enjoyed when vibrant and young or they can be allowed to age for many years in bottle into a soft and delicate wine of velvet-like elegance.

In the 1920’s, the celebrated Oxford Professor George Saintsbury underlined Dow’s outstanding reputation when he wrote in his famous ‘Notes on a Cellarbook’ (first published in 1920), “There is no shipper’s wine that I have found better than the best of Dow’s 1878 and 1890 especially.” James Suckling, one of today’s leading authorities on Vintage Port was equally impressed by another legendary wine - the Dow’s 1896 - “The ancient {1896} Port still had an amazing ruby colour with a garnet edge, and it smelled of raisins, black pepper and berries. It was full-bodied, with masses of fruit intertwined with layers of velvety tannins. It was superb.” In 1998, when this wine was 102 years old, he awarded this Port an exceptional 98 points.

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Vintage 2016

The 2016 harvest in the Douro brought perfectly-timed rain that turned a good year into a great one. Fortunately, despite a challenging growing season and a much adjusted and delayed picking schedule, those producers with excellent vineyard knowledge and confident decision-making, were rewarded with spectacular Vintage Ports.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Written Notes

The immediate question for anyone tasting this port will be how does it compare with their legendary 2011. For me, different but equally exciting, though one could argue that the more powerful vintage in ’11 was more suited to the style of Dow’s than the elegance we find in 2016. That said, it seems to have made little difference. Dark fruits here, blueberries, some warm earth, grapeseed and chocolate. The wine exhibits the Dow’s’ austerity and power, matched with richness of flavour and incredible length, and yet remains seamless throughout. This is the ultimate iron fist in a velvet glove. A second tasting revealed a fraction more spiciness, notably a hint of pepper, but both times the power and the length stood out. A profound VP. Two very close scores so go with what you prefer. 98 – 99.

  • 99p

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.

  • 96p

Very Dow in its intensity, taut and lean with the vigour of a young thoroughbred. Typical Dow’s deep, brooding aromas of black plum and Douro schist with lavender and violet notes. Profound and substantial on the palate. A beautifully toned wine of impressive structure.

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.

The 2016 Vintage Port, bottled in May for release in October 2018, is mostly a 48/31 blend of Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional, with various other grapes and some very old vines for the rest. It comes in with 111 grams of residual sugar. This is a very elegant Dow's, but there is certainly both power and concentration lurking underneath. Adding fine fruit, it is expressive and sophisticated, a very refined offering that seems not quite as burly as in some years. It is still exceptionally appealing, but it was curiously understated when seen. Some bottle shock, perhaps? The fresh 2016 Vintage? This is an illustration of Charles Symington's philosophy, as relayed to me, that the "wines should be in harmony from the first day." I don't think this will be a great Dow's, but it is an enjoyable one. If it wakes up, it might be entitled to an uptick. For the moment, between the top blends in the Symington stable, I'd lean to Graham's as the best in this vintage. Both are easily outclassed by the single-plot wines. There were 5,480 cases produced.

Part of the Symington Family houses, Dow's was declared this year, along with everything else. All of them were bottled, although not long in bottle. They are set for release in October 2018. Charles Symington said that 2016 started off very rainy, followed by a hot and dry summer, but with moderate temperatures. It was fairly apparent it would be a later vintage. In mid-August, some rain helped the maturation. At the beginning of September, there was a wave of hot weather. He said that was a crucial moment when he thought of starting harvest, even though it was not quite perfect, but they waited. Victory goes to the bold. Rain in the second week of September caused them to hold back another week, beginning harvest around 22 September. It was a very late harvest, creating a certain element of risk. Touriga Franca, he said, is particularly susceptible to rain. But there was no rain for the next 30 days, making harvest easy. Charles said that the "blue skies and mild temperatures from the 13th September to the 10th October allowed for the Nacional to be picked in late September and the Franca in early October in perfect conditions with fantastic balance. The freshness coming through in these wines being a defining feature of this vintage."

 

  • 93p

The 2016 Dow’s Vintage Port is based around the Vinha dos Ecos vineyard behind Bomfim, populated predominantly by mature Touriga Franca vines that were cropped at just 0.68kg per vine. It has a quite astonishing bouquet with layer upon layer of intense black cherry and cassis fruit, touches of clove, leather and a hint of over-ripe Satsuma. This is a mercurial bouquet that keeps changing in the glass, revealing smoky/burning ember scents with time. The palate is quite magnificent – perfectly balanced with a killer thread of acidity slicing through such pure intense black fruit that there is no heaviness at all. There is a sense of thrust on the finish as it fans out with almost careless abandon, a Vintage Port so self-assured that you can only sit back in amazement. Simply one of the best Dow’s ever made.

  • 98p

Opaque. Rich, fruity, dense, blackberries, spices, intense and layered nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, dark berries, juicy, structured, spices, layered, long. 96

  • 96p
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Information

Origin

Vila Nova de Gaia, Douro

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