Pre-vintage in the Douro

Summer has reached its final fling. As we have delayed picking until next week I spend the first part of the weekend in the Douro. The temperature this afternoon reached 36oC, high for this time of year. The prediction is that the warm weather continue until the middle of next week with rain forecast for Wednesday. That leaves me worrying about our Trincadeira which starts to rot from within the bunch after the first drop of rain. In the Douro, everyone is gearing up for vintage which is already underway for Douro wine in the Douro Superior. It seems that the Douro is facing many similar problems to our own. I speak to Dirk Niepoort who is rather underwhelmed with the grapes so far. The Port benefício has been set this year at 110,000 pipes, 10,000 more than most shippers would wish. But it is going to be a huge harvest and this with account for little more than a third of total production with so much new vineyard coming on stream. Like the Alentejo, I fear that the Douro has planted too much and that grape prices will fall as a result. The benefício offers some protection for small growers with good vineyards but Port shipments have fallen by about 10% over the last decade and the benefício will have to take account of this.