London, to a tasting of Noval and Noval Nacional vintage Ports at Berry Bros. & Rudd (see detailed notes to follow on the Port pages of this website). Christian Seely, Managing Director of AXA Estates (which includes Quinta do Noval) tells me that this has been the longest vintage he can recall, starting at the end of August and only ending last Saturday, 23rd October. Their production was double that of 2009! The Port shippers are fairly positive but in reality I suspect there is rather too much ordinary wine in the Douro this year. The Symington family’s harvest report states that from October 2009 to March 2010 50% more rain fell at Quinta do Bomfim than normal (789mm compared to the mean of 524mm). This proved to be essential because not a drop of rain fell in July and August and the average daily maximum temperature throughout August was over 35oC. Miles Edlmann, a member of the Symington’s viticultural research team whose parents also have a vineyard just to the south of us near Estremoz sums it up: ‘vines need humidity and temperatures below 35oC to photosynthesise, so it came as no surprise to see that maturation this summer was delayed.’ The Douro had some welcome rain in early September which missed us in the Alentejo although some areas had unwelcome downpours later in the month when picking had already begun. Like us it seems that it was a very variable year in the Douro with Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz (the two most planted grape varieties) performing rather unevenly. The old vines with deep roots penetrating down 25 metres or more performed much better than young vineyards with higher yields and less developed root systems.
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