2013 Vintage Report Part I

I arrived here yesterday, heavily constipado (with a head cold) after a week of distinctly depressing autumnal weather in the UK. The harvest began here at the start of the week and by the end of the day today we will have four cubas (vats) fermenting. If anything it is too hot with the thermometer climbing to 33oC today and no let up in sight. Unlike the Douro where there was a timely dousing a couple of weeks ago, we have had no rain to speak of since the spring. Some of the vines on the shallower soils are looking very stressed and we have lost some more of the old vines to eutypiosis this year (see my blog entry for 23rd May 2013). Still, walking round the vintage tasting grapes (not particularly easy with a head cold) we look like having a very good vintage this year. We have already picked some of the Aragonez, all the Viognier, most of the Syrah and most of the Touriga Nacional. There is a little raisinization (but very little) and the bunches are in general full and healthy with only the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes looking rather small and puny.    The Trincadeira is very good indeed (perhaps our best yet) and the grapes taste sweet with none of the herbaceousness that we often get from this variety at this altitude.  With no rain forecast there is no prospect of any bunch rot. We start picking Trincadeira early next week. The most retarded variety is Alicante Bouschet which we will leave until last but my pruning strategy seems to have worked and we have a smaller crop this year which should ripen well given the opportunity. I have not yet tasted from the fermenting vats but the heady smell in the winery (which even penetrates my blocked nostrils) fills me with optimism. On paper the potential alcohols are on the high side but seem to be balanced by good acidity.  With stable weather forecast for the next week I venture to say that we will have another Pedra e Alma vintage this year. I hear through the grape vine that the Port producers are very optimistic too (- another declared vintage in prospect just two years after 2011?)