Dow's

Dow´s Ports have a distinctive quality and style:  superbly concentrated wines that are scented with violet and mint aromas, intense and tannic when young, maturing towards a superlative racy elegance with age.  Dow’s hallmark is its attractive and distinctively drier finish as compared with other Port brands.

History

The firm behind the port brand Dow’s, Silva and Cosens, began in 1798, when a Portuguese merchant, Bruno da Silva, set up business in London to import wines from his native country.  Bruno thrived in London, the wines developed a strong reputation, and the business continued down through the generations, taking in Frederick William Cosens as a partner in 1862, and in 1868 George Acheson Warre (of another long-established Port trade family) joined the firm, taking responsibility for the wine making in Portugal. 

In 1877 Silva & Cosens merged with another Port company, Dow & Co.  As this firm also had a strong reputation for the quality of its Ports, particularly its Vintage Ports, it was decided to adopt Dow’s as a brand name for the wines produced by Silva & Cosens.

Meanwhile, Andrew James Symington arrived in Porto in 1882, to work for Graham’s, a firm which, in addition to its Port shipping activities, also conducted a general trading business, where AJS began his career.  After just a few years he left Graham’s and became involved with the Port trade, becoming a partner in Warre & Co in 1905. 

In 1912 George Acheson Warre decided to return to England and invited AJS to manage the Portuguese end of the Dow’s business:  the Douro vineyards as well as the Lodge and stocks in Vila Nova de Gaia.  Members of the Symington and Warre families continued to work together at Dow’s until 1961, when the Symingtons became sole owners of Dow’s.

One of the great assets of Dow’s has to be the Guest Books that have been kept at Quinta do Bomfim from the beginning.  In these books George Acheson Warre, his colleagues, and all the Warre and Symington family members who followed him, have recorded their visits and made notes on the state of the vineyards year round, as well detailed records about the quality of the grapes and wines during harvest.  These guest books have been an invaluable resource in creating our annual Vintage Reports for this site.

A more detailed history of Dow's as well as details of all the Dow's Ports can be found on the Dow’s website.

Quintas

Dow’s was one of the first Port companies to recognise the importance of vineyard ownership in the Douro.  George Acheson Warre knew the region intimately and purchased two legendary quintas for Dow’s:  Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira, in the Douro Superior, in 1890, and Quinta do Bomfim, at Pinhão in the Upper Douro, in 1896.

In 1954, when the Port trade was in deep crisis after the Second World War, the decision was made to sell Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira, though Dow’s continued to buy the wines most years – including for such wonderful vintages as the 1955, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1980 and 1994.   In 1998, the company’s Bicentenary year, the Symington Family were able to buy back Senhora da Ribeira, and to mark the occasion bottled the first Quinta Vintage Port from this extraordinary property. 

Dow’s also sources grapes from two other quintas in the Douro Superior, both near Senhora da Ribeira, and both privately owned by family members:  Quinta do Santinho and Quinta da Cerdeira.  Together, the four estates have over 90 hectares of vineyards.

See detailed viticultural profiles for the Quintas:  Bomfim and Senhora da Ribeira (both of these quintas produce Quinta Vintage Ports)

Flavour Profile

Dow´s Ports have a distinctive quality and style:  superbly concentrated wines that are scented with violet and mint aromas, intense and tannic when young, maturing towards a superlative racy elegance with age.  Dow’s hallmark is its attractive and distinctively drier finish as compared with other Port brands.

The Wines

Dow's declares a Vintage Port only in exceptional years, perhaps three times in a decade, and in the intervening years may produce Quinta Vintage Ports from Quinta do Bomfim or Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira.  The Senhora da Ribeira wines are exceptionally fine and, most unusually for a Quinta Vintage, are released En Primeur at the time of bottling, rather than being aged in our cellars for ten years before release, as is typical for a Quinta Vintage.

Dow’s have long been known and well regarded by connoisseurs.  In 1920 the celebrated Oxford profession George Saintsbury wrote in his Notes on a Cellarbook

There is no shipper’s wine that I have found better than the best of Dow’s, 1878 and 1890 especially.

James Suckling, a contemporary authority on Port, attended the 1998 Dow’s Bicentenary tasting, and wrote in The Wine Spectator

The tasting spanned more than a century of Vintage Ports, beginning with 1854 and ending with 1997.  I rated more than half of the Ports Outstanding, at 90 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100 point scale.  I gave four Vintages – 1896, 1924, 1945 and 1994 – Classic Quality ratings at 98, 96, 97 and 97 respectively.  These are some of the greatest Ports ever produced.

His detailed note for the 1896 further demonstrates the quality and longevity of Dow’s Vintage Ports:

The ancient Port (1896) 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.

See details of all the years in which Dow's Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira was made

  1. 2015
  2. 2013
  3. 2012
  4. 2010
  5. 2009
  6. 2008
  7. 2006
  8. 2005
  9. 2004
  10. 2002
  11. 2001
  12. 1999
  13. 1998

See details of all the years in which Dow's Quinta do Bomfim was made

  1. 2010
  2. 2009
  3. 2008
  4. 2006
  5. 2005
  6. 2004
  7. 2002
  8. 2001
  9. 1999
  10. 1998
  11. 1996
  12. 1995
  13. 1992
  14. 1990
  15. 1989
  16. 1988
  17. 1987
  18. 1986
  19. 1984
  20. 1982
  21. 1979
  22. 1978
  23. 1965
  24. 1962
  25. 1961
  26. 1958
  27. 1954
  28. 1952
  29. 1948


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