The history of this esteemed winery dates back to 1798, when Bruno da Silva, a Portuguese merchant from Oporto, journeyed to London.
He set up a business importing wine from his native country, which was met with great enthusiasm at the time.
Fast forward to the Napoleonic wars, which put Bruno’s importing business in jeopardy. Undaunted, he applied for a “letter of marque” from the Queen, which he was granted.
This entitled him to equip his merchant ship with guns, making his the first and only Port company to transport its precious cargo of casks of Ports under its own armed protection!
Today the Symington family continues to build on the legacy of the preceding Silva and Dow families, having taken over the business in the 20th century.
Dow’s 10-Year Tawny Port Review
“10 Years” indicates an average age – this Aged Tawny Port is a blend of older and younger wines, which impart depth and intensity, along with freshness and drinkability.
Dow’s 10 Year is bottled ready to drink after an average of at least ten years of oak aging and features a “t-cap closure,” meaning you won’t even need a corkscrew to open it!
A wide variety of native grapes are used to produce Tawny Port, including Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, TintaRoriz (aka Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, and TintaCão.
While those are the most notable, there are over 50 varietals of grapes used in Port production! The blend is usually a field blend and is not disclosed in any detail.
This wine shows some really nice signs of oxidation in the pale-brown color it exhibits. It is quite dense, featuring plenty of alcohol and sugar, which allow legs to form and fall incredibly rapidly in the glass.
The aromatics on this bottle are intense, to say the least. Roasted nuts, figs, raisins, and robust caramel notes fill the nose. Orange liquor, crème brûlée, and sweet toffee come through as supporting notes to round out the robust fruit smells.
Absolutely decadent. Baked figs, raisins, smoky vanilla, and buttered toffee hit the palate immediately. These notes are followed by rich chocolate, oak, spiced pecans, and dried oranges.
What does Dow’s 10-Year Tawny Port pair with?
Anything nutty does amazingly well with this bottle. Keep in mind that you want to match power with power here, as an intense wine such as this needs suitably intense flavors to stand up against it. Pecan pie, almond biscotti, and caramel-coated cheesecake are some of my personal favorite pairing choices for Port wines such as this one.
Not feeling dessert? No sweat! This bottle holds its own with aged cheeses as well. Some exceptional pairing options include pecorino, smoked cheddar or gouda, aged manchego, and gruyere.
The nutty, earthy flavors of the cheeses hold their own against the richness of the wine and make for wonderful pairing options.
What wines are similar to Dow’s 10-Year Tawny Port?
I would venture out and try some other Tawny Ports if you enjoy this bottle. In my opinion, Graham’s, Quinta das Carvalhas, and Fonseca are some of the best producers on the market. Each will be a bit different.
For instance, Quinta das Carvalhas is a bit warmer and showcases a bit more alcohol on the palate, meaning it will do better with dessert options with more sugar than it will with cheese pairings.
Additionally, if you want more complexity and intensity, I would recommend other Port wines from Dow which sport an older age statement. Start with their 20-year, see how you feel, and you may even decide to move all the way up to their 40-year bottling!
In all honesty, Port wine definitely isn’t for everyone. It is intense, powerful, rich, and almost hedonistic. But if that is what you are looking for in a bottle, then this is a great place to start.