The very hot climate through the summer at this vineyard results in highly complex and concentrated wines but very low yields. Colours of the musts in the fermentation tanks are always purple-black due to the very high skin to juice ratio. The old vines add further to the intensity of the wine as they make up a very large percentage of the vineyard. The resulting wine can be described as being the essence of Vintage Port, with powerful wild red-fruit flavours, leading into rich black chocolate notes, the whole balanced by complex, attractive and peppery tannins.
Wine maker notes
Senhora da Ribeira’s wines are some of the finest in the Douro and they complement those from Bomfim in the composition of Dow’s classic Vintage Ports. The quinta’s high proportion of old vines (45% are over 25 years old) is of critical importance. As with Quinta do Bomfim, the best Ports from Senhora de Ribeira are used to make Dow’s Vintage Ports in the great and rare ‘Declared’ years. In the good year’s when Dow’s does not ‘declare’ a Vintage, the best wines of ‘The Lady of the River’ are bottled as Dow’s Quinta de Senhora da Ribeira Vintage Port. They will tend to mature a little earlier than the very rare ‘Declared’ years, but can be every bit as good as some other Vintage Ports.
Whilst the majority of Port is now made with modern methods using state-of-the-art vinification technology, a small proportion is still produced by the time-honoured method of treading. In either system, fermentations are relatively short (two to three days) because Port is a fortified wine. Fortification, which involves the addition of natural grape spirit to the fermenting juice, intentionally interrupts the fermentation process at a point when approximately half of the grapes’ natural sugar has been converted into alcohol. This accounts for Port’s characteristic rich, luscious style and also contributes to the wine’s considerable ageing potential. Given the short fermentation cycle it is crucial to extract as much flavour, colour and tannins as possible from the grape skins.
For over two centuries the name of DOW has been associated with the finest Port from the vineyards of the Upper Douro Valley. Throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st, the Symington family has built on the legacy of the preceding Silva and Dow families. Generations of Symington winemakers have worked at the Dow’s vineyards: Quinta do Bomfim and Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira, creating from them Dow’s superbly concentrated wines that are intense and tannic when young, maturing towards a superlative racy elegance with age and scented with violet and mint aromas. Dow’s attractive and distinctive drier finish is the recognisable hallmark of the wines from this great Port house.