Vintage in the Douro I

With our vintage already drawing to a close I make my way up to the Douro to stay with Paul and Jane Symington. I arrive there to find everyone blogging their way through vintage. You can find the Symington family’s fascinating vintage blog on their website. The Douro has suffered more from the heat than we have in the Alentejo with A and B grade vineyards at low altitudes bearing the brunt. Some people began picking in late August (almost too early for the grapes to have reached physiological ripeness) and there has been little let up in the heat since. Temperatures on 9th and 10th September were still touching 40oC. The nights have cooled now but the days are still warm. Although rain is forecast this weekend the skies are still clear. I get up early and take a walk from Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha up to the village of Provezende. This is relatively high country (450 metres or so) where the grapes ripen later and with it being a Saturday morning whole families are already out in their small holdings picking grapes. The grapes look wonderfully healthy – no sign of any disease. Tinta Barroca, the most sugar-rich of all the port grapes, has done especially well at this altitude but at lower levels I hear of horrifically high baumés. One lagar at Johnny Graham’s Quinta da Gricha came it at 20 baumé. I was told that the  fruit was so raisinised that the gang of treaders could practically walk on the surface. This will be a challenging vintage for everyone but I expect that some good wines will be made from the most unlikely places.