2016 Dow's Vintage Porto

Year: 2016
Appellation: Oporto
Country: Portugal
Wine Spectator: 98
Wine Advocate: 93
Vinous Media: 98
James Suckling: 96
Wine Enthusiast: 97
Fortified Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 20.0%
Price :
$99.95

"This packs a lot of fun, with a wallop of blackberry, fig, boysenberry and açai berry compote flavors working together, laced with a mouthwatering licorice snap note and driven by a fresh, well-detailed finish. A roasted apple wood accent is integrated as well, lending textural contrast through the vivacious finish. Best from 2030 through 2055. 350 cases made. -JM " (WS)

"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."

As we debate the trends in Ports (see, last year's article on the 2015s, "Undeclared and Unashamed"), it's worth noting that my favorites of the Symington group are easily the single-plot wines—The Stone Terraces and Capela, both wine-of-the-vintage candidates. " (WA)

"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." (VM)

"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." (JS)

"Very floral, intense and ripe, this is a wine that is based around big black fruits as well as fine acidity. It is obviously destined for long aging with its powerful dry tannins and perfumed acidity. Drink this wine from 2028." (WE)