Bitterly cold in the serra. Bright sunshine by day (I don’t think I have ever seen such brilliant blue skies) and a hard frost by night. I get up early and go to the adega to taste both our 2007 and 2008 from barrel while my senses are at their keenest. The ‘07s have settled down well. The Trincadeira is soft, sweet but rather lightweight and only some of it will make it into the final blend. However it is compensated by some delicious casks of vinha velha (from the old vines); rich, ripe and foursquare with lovely savoury integrated new oak. Thirteen casks of Aragonez and young vine Alicante Bouschet are also looking good: nearly opaque in colour with plenty of soft, sweet fruit backed by firm tannic grip and well integrated new oak. We have the makings of a very good Pedra Basta in 2007 but I can’t see us producing Pedra e Alma. The 2008s have, by and large, settled down from the malolactic. We have a very small production from the Trincadeira vinha nova but reinforced with some young vine Alicante the wines is looking lovely: fresh with crisp acidity and good purity of fruit and length of flavour – without doubt the best wine we have made from these vines. The old vine Aragonez and Trincadeira (now in barrel) is still a little disjointed but also has lovely freshness and purity together with some fine grained tannins. This has the makings of a very good wine. We also have a tiny tank of Syrah from grapes that we left on a few rows of the vines planted in 2006 (most were green harvested to help the vines establish themselves). It looks very promising with good colour and a recognisably spicy, minty character. I leave the adega for breakfast, feeling very satisfied with the 2008s (a vintage in which I took no part) but wishing we had more of it.
19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)
17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)
15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)
13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)
10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)
8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)
Below 8 Faulty