After a burst of heat towards the end of June, July has been abnormally cool until this week when the thermometer has registered 30 degrees plus every day. At the start of the week there was a strong wind but today the air is still under a cloudless sky. In the relative cool of the early morning I take the opportunity to walk round the vineyard. Everything is quite forward and we have a sizable crop, although thankfully rather less than last year. The Trincadeira looks very promising, both in the old and newer vineyards and given the quantity we have, this bodes well for the vintage and the quality of the wine. In fact all the varieties are looking good. The alicante Bouschet (2003) has overproduced yet again and we have dropped over half the potential crop to the ground. There is a little desavinho in the Touriga Nacional but that is to be expected.
One or two bunches Touriga are showing signs of burn from the heat in June but nothing like the Douro where I gather Tinta Barroca on south-facing slopes has been as good as wiped out by a heat wave during São João. Some of the vines on the deeper soils near the ribeira are showing too much vigour, but it was ever thus in a year with so much rain. My policy of retaining the vegetation between the rows of vines has helped combat soil erosion and we will stick to it. Around and about there is a very high incidence of oidium this year. I walk off the quinta to inspect some of my neighbour’s vineyards and their crop is totally ruined. The co-operative no longer any incentive for these small growers to treat what are often centenarian vines. A tragedy. Our vines are completely healthy thanks to regular treatments over the past couple of months when oidium took hold. Even the corner by Carvoeiro that normally catches it first is completely oidium and mildew free. As long as the temperatures remain in the low thirties and not the low forties like this time last year, a fine if early harvest is in prospect. I am hoping for another Pedra e Alma year just like 2009!
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