2006 Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port, Dow's, Douro Valley, Portugal

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Deep red centre and garnet rim. Fragrant notes of mint and fresh wildflowers, as well as attractive red fruit aromas. Supple and elegant on the palate with gorgeous flavours of red cherries and raspberries, garnished with peppery tannins, and a subtle dark chocolate undertone. Excellent long finish with Dow’s characteristic dry edge. A very accomplished, complete wine, offering up much pleasure now but with the structure to carry on ageing in bottle for another five to six years.

One of the Douro Valley’s finest vineyards, Bomfim is the heart of some of the company’s greatest Ports, having provided wines for Dow’s Vintage Ports ever since it was acquired in 1896. The estate is situated in the centre of the best wine-producing area known as the ‘Cima Corgo’, which offers an ideal balance between the relatively wet ‘Baixo Corgo’ to the west and the intense heat of the ‘Douro Superior’ to the east.

In the good year’s when Dow’s does not ‘declare’ a Vintage, the best Ports of Quinta do Bomfim are carefully selected and bottled as Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port. These wines are exceptionally good. 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.

Bomfim is a classic ‘River Quinta’ with several natural advantages: it is south-facing ensuring ideal exposure to the sun; its stony schist soil affords excellent drainage, allowing water to reach the vine’s deep roots; the annual average rainfall is near perfect at 800mm; the altitude ranges from 120 to 340 metres above sea level, accommodating both gentle gradients lower down and progressively steeper slopes higher up the valley side. A further advantage is the consistency of the climate, blessed with a favourable combination of temperate and Mediterranean influences, respectively from Portugal’s Atlantic coast to the west and the Spanish plateau to the east

The whole Bomfim vineyard is ‘A-rated’, the highest quality grading conferred by the region’s wine regulatory body. The vineyards are now almost entirely planted in varietal batches, meaning each variety may be picked and subsequently vinified separately, thus allowing for each grape’s maximum potential to be achieved. The principal grape varieties planted are: Touriga Franca (30%); Touriga Nacional (20%); Tinta Barroca (13%); Tinta Roriz (13%) and old mixed vines (12%), whilst other grape varieties account for the remaining 12%. Two-thirds of the vineyard is now over 20 years old, whilst one third is between 30 to 40 years old.

Wine profile: When young, Bomfim wines are purple-black, austere, complex and intensely concentrated; they are characterised by very fine peppery tannins. Over the centuries, the winemakers at Bomfim have evolved a style that suits this particular vineyard; fermentations are a little longer, resulting in a drier Port Wine that has become the hallmark of Dow’s. The grapes are normally extremely ripe at the time of picking, a direct result of the low-lying position of the main vineyard. Spice and pepper balance the black chocolate flavours and these are very evident in all Bomfim Ports. Abundant fruit flavours with hints of maple, raisins and ripe blackberries give elegance and poise to this wine. The very high percentage of Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional planted on the estate result in the powerful aromas of mint and violets on the finest Ports from Bomfim.

Winemaking: Bomfim’s wines are vinified in the quinta’s fermentation vats which have been successively upgraded over the years and which continue to produce excellent wines. Selected batches of wines are also made at Dow’s other winery, Quinta do Sol, just a short distance downstream where the prototypes of the revolutionary robotic lagares were first trialled in 1998 and 1999.