The adega is a hive of activity today as we bottle Duas Pedras 2012. I spend the morning tasting quietly through the wines we have made this vintage. Our potential Duas Pedras blend, made from grapes picked before the rain, is already showing well with plenty of fresh fruit and a characteristic touch of spice. Trincadeira is, as always, our weakest variety but this year it has produced a clean, sappy wine that will lend freshness and finesse to our Pedra Basta lote. The Alicante, picked after the rain, has performed well producing a dark, firm brooding wine, a little rustic on its own but perfect material for blending. The big surprise is the Cabernet Sauvingon which, at the start of vintage, looked and tasted like green peas. However the rain and the late harvest seems to have been very beneficial and we now have a vat of 50/50 Alicante and Cabernet which is full and flesh with relatively soft, ripe tannins, with the aroma and flavour marked by ripe berry fruit.This may have the makings of a one-off wine. Finally to the vinha velha, our potential Pedra e Alma: this is still raw having only just finished fermenting but it is already showing good structure and depth.
This year’s challenging harvest has been greatly helped by a willing and experienced team in the winery and the vineyard. Our wine maker / estagiário this year, Duarte Corte Real has already worked a number of vintages both in Portugal and New Zealand and has not flinched from all the hard work involved. (Duarte also likes the Arctic Monkeys and their new album AM has been played at top volume in the winery). He has been greatly helped by João Paulo who used to work in the local co-op and has plenty of local experience. Then we have Teresa and her team of pickers who, having pruned the vineyard earlier in the year, know the vines well and were able to make the necessary selection after the weather turned against us. Also Luís and his tractor and Joaquim Manuel have worked with good humour through a stop-start harvest.
I ventured at the outset that this was likely to be a ‘Pedra e Alma vintage’ but, with all the rain that fell mid-harvest, I should have remembered the old Portuguese expression: nunca conta no ovo na cu de galinha (never count on the egg in the chicken’s arse!) We will now have to see how our wine evolves before making a decision. Lesson learned!
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