2018 Quinta Senhora da Ribeira


The 2018 Quinta Senhora da Ribeira represents just 8% of the Quinta's production. It is more compact, a bit more standoffish compared to some of the other single quinta 2018s that I tasted. It gradually warms up, revealing marine notes, seaweed and oyster shells tincturing the black fruit. The palate is super-smooth on the entry with plush, saturated tannins, quite spicy and peppery with an assertive, structured finish that is quintessentially Dow's. Superb. 410 cases produced. Drinking range: 2030 - 2060 Rating: 94 Neal Martin, (Jun 2020)

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75cl bottles (wood case of 3)

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* This is a pre-shipment/primeur offer. All orders are accepted under the TERMS of this offer which differ from the terms of the rest of the site.

This property contributes approximately 25% of the wine to Dow’s Vintage Port while Quinta do Bomfim usually sits the 60% mark. Senhora da Ribeira is thought of as the aromatic high notes while Bomfim is the heart, so it is interesting to bear this in mind while tasting this wine. Firstly, this could not be a more different proposition to Vesuvio. Plum and mulberry fruit abounds and this is a seriously exotic and perfumed wine with violet and mint notes. It is red to Vesuvio’s black. It is buttoned up as opposed to expansive and the co-fermented Sousão and Alicante Bouschet bring freshness and vivacity to the whole making it a more piercing wine than Vesuvio’s blanket of dark fruit flavours. This effect also appears to heighten the spice and oak elements, and while there is no doubt that Vesuvio has these elements in spades, Senhora da Ribeira wears them like filigree on a lustrous cape as opposed to burying them deep into her soul. Pure, punchy, expressive and a few shades lighter in both colour and tone than Vesuvio this is certainly a more classically shaped wine. While I am a sucker for Vesuvio’s expressive ‘night sky’ of flavour, there is undoubtedly a fascination building for the Senhora’s ‘breaking dawn’. Drinking range: 2030 - 2055 Rating: 18+ Matthew Jukes (Jul 2020)

The 2018 Quinta de Senhora da Ribeira, the Douro Superior quinta, is a blend of 45% Touriga Franca, 40% Touriga Nacional and the rest Alicante Bouschet and Sousão combined. It comes in with 106 grams per liter of residual sugar. Of the Symington group this issue, nothing is more intensely flavorful as this. It is certainly a step up on its Bomfim sibling this issue in concentration. Some in this set of Symington releases are equally perfumed. Some might be equally or more powerful. Nothing is more expressive except the Vesúvio, which is a bit of an outlier in this group. With violets up front and plums on the finish, it is delicious and sexy, until the hammer falls. There is plenty of power too. The next day, it shuts down. A few days later, it was drinking fairly well. This is one of the two Ports being released now, en primeur, by the Symingtons (the other being the Vesúvio). The question here will be when this comes into better balance. I'd sock it away until nearly the end of this decade, but it might be approachable sooner. There were 510 cases produced, a bit more than Bomfim, but still pretty small. Drinking range: 2027 - 2065 Rating: 92-94 Mark Squires, (Jun 2020)

Now owned by the Symington Family, Dow had an unusual beginning as in 1798 Portuguese merchant Bruno da Silva left Portugal and travelled to England, importing his wine over to sell. In 1862, Bruno's son John da Silva created a partnership with Frederick William Cosens and formed Silva & Cosens. The firm expanded and were eventually joined by another partner, George Acheson Warre. The company continued to thrive, and in 1877 merged with yet another port company, Dow & Co, headed by James Ramsey Dow. Silva & Cosens took on the highly respected Dow name, and simply traded under Dow & Co.

2018 was a complicated vintage in the Douro, described by the Symington family as ‘a rollercoaster’ climatically, yet the resulting wines are looking remarkably good. Largely this will be a year for the Single Quintas – and not a ‘general Declaration’ by all. Had they all gone for it - this would have been the third year on the trot for a full Declaration and this has never happened before. You could even sense some unease at the release of 2016 & 2017 back to back (both wonderful and worthy vintages) this double-whammy had not happened since 1872-73! So perhaps for 2018 it was never going to be - whatever the quality of the year – who knows, only time will tell.

So far we have only tasted the fantastic 2018 release from Quinta do Romaneira – and it really is brilliant, showing the vintage clearly had what was needed to make great Port. If you survived the long winter drought, the serious hail in April and the damp Spring – the long, hot summer was excellent for maturing the fruit. Undeniably, it was a hot year – but this is becoming common in the Douro and producers know just how to handle it. Clever vine canopy management, plot by plot harvesting at just the right moment for each parcel and gentle handling in the cellar, are all tools helping winemakers tame the sizzling heat.

A ‘not so general Declaration' can be a great opportunity for buyers and drinkers. Great Houses releasing ports from their Single Quintas in a great vintage often spells value and 2018 is looking very promising.

So promising in fact that some big names have not been able to resist declaring their 'Classic Wines'. Sandeman have released a 2018 – but they did not declare in 2017 – so for them this is not ‘three on the bounce’ – and Taylor are releasing a 2018, but they will hold on until next year.

Adrian Bridge who heads up Taylor and Fonseca told us:

“Although a Classic declaration normally only happens about three times a decade, the exceptional run of years has meant that Taylor’s is able to make a third in a row. This is very unusual but our principle is that we only declare a Classic Vintage when the quality is there and this is dictated by the year, not by any other consideration. Indeed, in view of the economic situation in which we find ourselves, we will bottle in July as usual but will not offer the wines until early 2021”

We are delighted to offer (for now) the following small selection of excellent Vintage Ports. Not only will these prove fantastic drinking in the coming decades – but Vintage Ports are also one of the best mementos of a special year. With the life in them to mature gracefully for at least 20 years, a case of one of these could be the most wonderful present for any children or god-children born in 2018.

Some of these are in very limited supply – so please let us know what you would like and we will do our very best to secure it for you.

Finally, because they never stop being true, some words of wisdom from Patrick Sandeman:

"The next question is whether one needs to buy and lay down vintage port at all in this day and age… Well, if, like me, you think that a dinner party is only a dinner party if you climax with a decanter of vintage port or two (otherwise it is only really a supper party), or if, like me, you decant a bottle of vintage port every Friday night during the months of November and December to drink over the week-end, then you will need at least two dozen bottles a year, and assuming that there is only one great vintage every four years, you should be buying at least eight dozen bottles. Equally, if you are of the camp that ‘no longer drinks port because it gives me a hangover’, then you too should be laying down some port for when you learn to drink less before and during dinner, and appreciate something exceptional at the end of the evening. Finally, of course, there are the (2018) babes whose God-parents, aunts and uncles, and parents should be buying at least two cases of six bottles (one to sell to help pay for the gap year in eighteen years time, the other to drink)." Patrick Sandeman

Best wishes,
The Lea & Sandeman Team


We are always delighted to offer advice should you need it. Please contact our private client team via email.

Pricing & Availability

All prices are quoted in bond by the case size stated. Some wines are highly sought after so we may give priority to previous buyers and those who buy across the offer. We expect these ports to arrive in the UK early in 2020.

Other Vintages

If you are interested in mature vintages of port, you can browse our duty paid selection here.