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Dow's Vintage 1944

May 2, 2012
Question by: Maurice, Wolverhampton, UK

Q:

Wondering if there is any value to a bottle of Dow Port 1944 I have. Comments appreciated

A:

Hi Maurice, We hope that bottle has been well cellared, as it is a rarity.  During the war years though we had some good harvests in the Douro, the wines were not declared and shipped in the usual way - shipping was of course restricted to the war efforts.  Instead, some Ports were bottled in small quantities here in Vila Nova de Gaia, and with glass in short supply some shippers had recourse to using sherry bottles.  Our own records of declared and shipped wines indicate only some Graham's 1942 which was not bottled until 1945, and a 1944 Quinta do Bomfim, and of course the victory declarations of 1945.

If the wine has been well cellared, it could be superb - for comparison, you might want to take a look at some recent notes for the Dow's 1945.  Michael Broadbent mentions a Dow's 1944 which he tasted in 1959 and again in 1961, giving it Four Stars, and saying "Fairly deep colour, lively bouquet. fullish, long liquorice flavour.  Dry finish." 

The harvest that year was characterised by a hot spring and summer, according to Broadbent.  Our own guest books from Quinta do Tua include notes made in late July 1944, "Old vineyards very nice, should be a largish crop.  Everything very advanced and if rain comes it should be an early vintage, though in general less than was expected earlier in the year.  Springs very low owing to exceptionally dry winter."  In mid August there was another note to say "Rains had come a few days before which had done a great deal of good and the grapes needed the extra days to fatten up and for skins to soften."  Vintage began as early as 28th August at Quinta dos Canais, most of the Cima Corgo on 6th September, and the Rio Torto area began on the 8th September.  Later comments in September add "Grapes good everywhere" and "Possibly auguring well for a Vintage year?"

Symington Family Estates are not active in the secondary market for Port, but in the UK we would suggest you contact a specialist retailer such as Berry Brothers & Rudd, who have the BBX on-line wine exchange.  Alternatively, you may want to contact one of the auction houses that routinely handle vintage wines, such as Bonham's, Christie's or Sotheby's.  Bear in mind, any broker or buyer will want to know more about the provenance of your bottle and need some assurance that the wine has been well stored since purchase.  For a buyer's perspective on these matters, take a look at our guide to Purchasing Vintage Port.



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