Vale do Bomfim Douro DOC 2015, Portugal
S ometimes you make something for yourself that is just too good not to share. That’s the case with the Symington Family’s Dow Vale do Bomfim.
Known worldwide for their outstanding port wines, the family initially made this wine to share with family and friends. When everyone kept raving about the wine, they decided they had better make enough to sell commercially. The first wine was made in 2004.
This enticing red table wine is sourced from the same vineyards in the Douro Valley in northern Portugal that produce the grapes for Dow’s beloved Vintage Port, including Quinta do Bomfim.
It is a beautiful deep red, almost opaque, in the glass, with rich black fruit aromas. Blackberries and plums dominate the flavors with a touch of spice. A lively acidity and freshness make it a perfect wine with rich food. The finish is long and smooth.
The wine was first sold in the United States. Good reviews here have convinced the company to offer it in other countries as well.
The grapes come primarily from Dow’s Bomfim and Senhora da Ribeira vineyards, as well as from other vineyards, which have long supplied the company. The blend is 40 percent touriga franca, 25 percent touriga nacional and 35 percent field blend. The blend can change from year to year and can include such grapes as tinta roriz, tinta amarela and tinta barroca.
The grapes were picked by hand into small, shallow containers and manually sorted with great care, after which they were gently crushed. Fermentation took place in small stainless steel vats at a temperature not exceeding 79 degrees.
The wine was aged for nine months in French oak barrels. It should continue to get better in the bottle for another year or two.
In general wines from Portugal should be on your radar. After centuries of making port, producers there started increasing their table wine production. That really got going in the 1990s, and quality has continued to climb ever since. Prices vary widely, but you can still find outstanding wines under $20.
Winery: The Symingtons have been in the port trade since the 17th century. They own four historic port houses: Graham’s, Cockburn’s, Dow’s and Warre’s. The family has had sole ownership of Dow’s since 1961. The family also owns Quinta do Vesúvio, one of Portugal’s greatest vineyard estates.
The port houses owned by the Symington family make about a third of the wine in all premium port categories.
Andrew James Symington became a partner in Dow’s in 1912 and today five members of the family own and manage the property, and many others work in all areas of the company.
The fifth generation of the family has now joined the company, and through the current generation’s great grandmother, the family’s links to the wines of the Douro span 14 generations, to the very beginnings of the history of port.
Through purchases over several generations the family has built the largest vineyard holding in Portugal. The vineyards spread the length and breadth of the Douro Valley and establishes the backbone for all their extraordinary wines.
It was one of the first companies to establish its own vineyards. Dow’s acquired Senhora da Ribeira, located in the remote Upper Douro, in 1890 and Bomfim, which lies in the heart of Alto Douro, in 1896. Their respective wines, Ribeira with its soft fruit and violet aromas, and Bomfim with its concentrated intensity, provide the backbone to the recognized drier style of Dow’s Ports.
The Dow’s 2007 Vintage Port received a rare 100 points from Wine Spectator.
Goes with: We had this wine with one of my favorite soups, vegetable beef. It is one of the easiest soups to make because you just cut everything up, throw it in a pot and boil it. I use beef shank and stew beef for the meat, letting it all cook for 30 minutes or so to create the broth.
Then I add onions, leeks, red potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery, canned tomatoes, corn cut from the cob, okra and parsley. You can use whatever vegetables you like or whatever you have on hand to clean out the refrigerator and pantry. I add beef bullion or concentrated beef paste to jack up the beef flavor.
I like noodles, so we always serve the soup over noodles.
The 2009 Vale do Bomfim is a perfect wine for barbecued chicken, steak and pork chops. It also will be a good partner to an antipasto plate of salami, roasted bell peppers and intensely flavored cheese. It also would be good with a pasta dish of sweet fennel sausage and tomato over penne or rigatoni.
The producers recommend serving this wine with a grilled sausage called Chourico, the Portuguese version of Spanish Chorizo. I couldn’t find the sausage anywhere, so I went with my favorite soup. But the wine clearly would be wonderful with all kinds of summer grilling treats.
Author Dennis Sodomka