Dow’s Old Tawny Ports are the ultimate expression of the wine makers and blender’s art. Only tasters with a profound experience and knowledge of the great Ports of the Douro can nurture these wines through many years of aging in seasoned oak casks in the Dow’s cellars. The Dow’s blenders will select particular wines that are set aside and destined to become these great Old Tawny Ports.
Old Tawny Ports need to be regularly tasted throughout the many years that they lie in the cellars. The wines need to be ‘racked’ from time to time during each year. Racking is the process by which the Dow’s team of experienced lodge men will carefully draw the wine off its ‘lees’ (the natural sediment that is formed at the bottom of the cask) and then pour the wine back into the clean cask. During these many years of careful attention and aging, the dark, purple and vibrant young Port mellows and ages into the complex but delicate aged Tawny Ports, gaining a classic amber tawny hue which gives them their name.
Most of Dow’s Old Tawny Ports are aged in the company’s extensive cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia where the moderate coastal climate plays a key role in bringing a balanced aging process to the wine. Ports aged in the Douro tend to react to the great heat of the summer months by gaining over-strong caramelised flavours. A small proportion of Douro aged tawny Ports are normally a valuable addition to the final blend, but in excess, they will unbalance a great Tawny Port.
Dow’s holds one of the largest stocks in the entire Port trade in oak casks in its cellars. This un-surpassed investment in valuable Port is fundamental to the great quality of Dow’s Old Tawny Ports. They are drier than most (although they retain the classic richness of all Port wines). It is widely acknowledged amongst generations of Port producers that producing slightly drier Old Tawny Ports is far more difficult than producing sweet tawny Ports. The sweetness can cover any slightly less well balanced wine but it will tend to make the final blend rather cloying and less enjoyable to savour. It is for this reason that Dow’s Old Tawny Ports are slightly drier than others. This fact makes the blender’s job more difficult and demanding but the wine that is finally bottled is superb and is the reason why Dow’s Old Tawny Ports regularly win the top awards around the world for their unique style and quality.
The great Tawny Ports of Dow’s are particularly good when drunk slightly chilled in warmer weather.