Vintage so far

As I write this on the winery verandah at three in the afternoon, the sun is shining and some very unthreatening white clouds are passing slowly overhead. This vintage has become a race against time as more heavy rain is forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Locally the vineyards have come alive with pickers all trying to harvest in the sunshine before more rain falls. I am glad we have all the Trincadeira gathered in as the unstable, humid weather conditions this year will lead to bunch rot in this very tetchy variety. So far so good. The musts that we have look healthy and balanced with a lovely looking cuba of Syrah/Viognier at 13.7 baumé and some attaractive Touriga Nacional. We are going to pick the old vine fruit tomorrow (Saturday) but, tasting the grapes out in the vineyard, I don’t think this is going to be a Pedra e Alma vintage. After a wet winter followed by an amenable summer without much real heat this is not a year for power and concentration. The recent rain has lowered the sugars and swelled the grapes too much and I think we are looking at some fresh, balanced but not very powerful or structured wines. Our problem is going to be Alicante Bouschet which is still far from ripe at around 11 baumé. Under predominantly grey skies and temperatures in the high teens and low 20s the grapes are ripening slowly and if it rains some more, the water uptake will dilute the sugars further. This time last year the thermometer was registering a good ten degrees more. 

Word is getting round as to how other parts of Portugal are getting on with harvest. It seems that if you were able to pick early (as is the case in much of the Alentejo and Ribatejo) then some good wines have been made. Alicante Bouschet however is the sticking point. Further north and especially towards the coast where there has been more rain, 2104 is looking much less good. Unless the warm, dry weather returns within the next ten days 2014 could be something of a washout.