Super Dry Summer and Late Vintage

Vintage is going to be about ten days later than last year. The drought has delayed ripening and with no rain in prospect at the moment there is no hurry to pick. Fortunately it is nowhere near as hot as it was this time last year when the thermometer was reaching 35ºC. This year it is a good 5-10ºC cooler during the daytime with the thermometer down to a cool 12 - 14ºC at night. I take a walk through the vineyard, tasting the grapes on the way. Overall the crop looks healthy but some of the vines are very stressed and are losing their leaves due to the prolonged drought. The barragem is no more than a puddle and we have had no water for irrigation since July.  The young vines have suffered the most with the Syrah looking worse for stress and the berries are small.  The Syrah is now up to 13.5 baumé and we will pick this first (probably later this week) followed by the Aragonez planted in 2006 (already 14.1 bé). Touriga Nacional is the most backward of our varieties but the vines are looking stressed and it is questionable whether we will get an even ripening this year.  There is a tiny crop of grapes on the vinha velha but fortunately there are few raisinised bunches. Even the Viognier (which usually shrivels first) is looking super-ripe but healthy. A little rain earlier this month would have been welcome to swell the grapes but provided the weather holds a promising vintage is in prospect.