My Vineyard Blog - October 2011
Quinta do Centro – Blog Diary
Living the Dream
‘What gives our dreams their daring is that they can be realized’ Le Corbusier
It is nearly two months since we had any rain but, as always in Portugal, when it starts to rain it rains buckets and never stops. Today it is blowing a fierce gale as well and the roof of Faro Airport was blown off this morning. This deep Atlantic depression is about a month later than nornal and September has been the hottest month of the year. It has been a remarkable vintage. Apart from those picking grapes in August, the whole of Portugal has managed to complete the harvest without being interrupted by rain. The Port shippers can barely hide their glee and a vintage declaration seems to be a dead cert for early 2013.
We held our adiafa here at the winery last night. This is the traditional meal to mark the end of vintage. I drank some of the Duas Pedras 2010 which we had opened for UK wine writer Julia Harding MW who had visited earlier in the day. Despite being in bottle for just over a week it is already showing really well. My initial fear that it would be too different from the 2009 is unfounded as it is full of soft, ripe fruit with just a touch more oak to give it structure. Although this is noticeable on the nose at the moment it shouldn’t take long to integrate. At the end of the evening fired up the barbeque and roasted some locally grown chestnuts in a púcara., a clay urn. They went fabulously well with one of my favourite 20 Year Old Tawnies, Ramos Pinto’s Quinta do Bom Retiro. This afternoon it is still 31oC but the weather doesn’t really matter any more now that we have everything safely in the adega. Gabriela, our charming young estagiaria from Argentina left today after what must have felt like 6 weeks hard labour!
With the last two ferments slowing down, I spend an hour or so tasting through the 2011 vintage. I am excited by the vinha velha this year; deep and dense with broad ripe tannins. The Syrah / Touriga destined to make Duas Pedras also looks very good indeed. If Syrah performs this well here on a regular basis I am inclined to plant some more. The Aragonez from the young vines (planted in 2006) is also quite promising; fresh, fruit-driven and showing some structure. Likewise the Alicante Bouschet which at this stage is as black as ink but will add freshness and verve to the Pedra Basta lote. The big disappointment, once again, is Trincadeira. The old vines have performed well but the young vineyard, now 11 years old, has produced wine that is lacking breadth and depth. After the heavy rain at the end of August maybe we panicked and picked just a bit too early but we probably had no option given Trincadeira’s alarming tendency to rot. In the Six years that I have owned Quinta do Centro we only have one year when Trincadeira has performed tolerably well (2009). I need to re-think this variety as it doesn’t seem at all suited to the Serra de São Mamede.