Dow's and Quinta Senhora da Ribeira
Visiting the Symingtons in Portugal's Douro Valley, part 5

One of the leading Port houses, Dow is part of the Symington family’s portfolio. Three quintas contribute to Dow’s Ports. The most important is Quinta do Bomfim, which has 49 hectares of well situated south-facing vineyards, and is located in the heart of the Cima Corgo just upstream of Pinhão. We visited just briefly, for a look at the cellars and winemaking facilities.

The view across to Vesuvio

Then there’s Quinta da Senhora de Ribeira, with 21 hectares of vines, and two Quintas privately owned by the Symington family (Quinta do Santinho and Quinta da Cerdeira, totalling 18 hectares). 

Dow’s is one of the top Vintage Ports, made in a slightly drier style than some, with real fruit focus and firm structure. When it isn’t made, single Quinta Ports from Bomfim and Senhora de Ribeira may be released.

Senhora de Ribeira is a property that was in the Symington family until the 1950s, when it was sold during tough times. It was bought back in 1998. It’s a south-facing property some 600 metres away from Quinta do Vesuvio, just over the river, with 24 hectares of vines. We visited early evening, and watched some of the mechanical (robotic) lagares in action. Robotic treading is an impressive, rather serene sight. The pistons move across the lagar slowly, and descend slowly and rhythmically, punching down the viscous mass of skins, pips and juice. 

There’s a small chapel here where people would pray to Senhora da Ribeira (Lady of the River) before using the river crossing at this point in the Douro.  


Dow’s Quinta de Bomfim 1999
Sweet, rounded, supple and textured with some signs of evolution. Nice density and notes of earth and chocolate in the background. Not too sweet with supple tannins and good balance. 93/100

Dow’s Crusted Port 2004
Mellow, sweet and textured with rich fruit and notes of earth and spice, as well as a touch of mint. A supple, textured wine that’s quite delicious. 91/100

Dow’s Quinta Senhora da Ribeira 1998
This was the first wine the Symingtons made after they got the property back. Rich, bold, concentrated and rounded, with some elegant black cherry and blackberry fruit. Intense and harmonious. Rich, meaty and quite spicy. There’s great concentration here. 94/100

Dow’s Quinta Senhora da Ribeira 2006
So aromatic with floral and black cherry aromatics. Lovely fruit. The palate is intense and sweet with black cherry and blackberry, showing real intensity and a nice finish. Brilliantly expressive. 95/100

Dow’s Quinta Senhora da Ribeira 2009
300 cases made. Very sweet, open berryish nose is ripe and alluring. Fruity, lively and aromatic with some violet and black cherry notes. Elegant, smooth and stylish on the palate with hints of mint, some meat, and dense blackberry fruit supported by nice structure. Supple style with no rough edges. 94/100


Part 1, introduction
Part 2, Warre's and Quinta da Cavadinha
Part 3, Graham's and Malvedos
Part 4, Cockburn's and Quinta dos Canais
Part 5, Dow's and Senhora de Ribeira
Part 6, Vesuvio, foot-treading and mechanical lagares
Part 7, Quinta de Roriz and the table wines
Part 8, Photographs  

Wines tasted 09/11  
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