It is 8am and the pickers are gathering for the first day of vintage at Quinta do Centro. The temperature is 10 ºC with a cool north wind blowing off the Serra and light clouds scudding through the blue sky. (It was 34ºC in the UK yesterday!) We had a little rain overnight and rather heavier rainfall around dawn yesterday so it is time to start picking the Trincadeira, our most tetchy grape variety. Trincadeira starts to rot from within the bunch almost as soon as it rains and the risk is even greater this year after the hot, dry late summer. The vines uptake of water from the soil is rapid which causes the grapes to swell and split. I go round tasting Trincadeira grapes from the vine. They appear ripe which is all-important with Trincadeira: pick too early and you risk a herbaceousness, pick too late and the wine goes jammy. As it turns out we are picking at just the right time. We have a moderate crop this year and the weather forecast for the next ten days is good with the thermometer rising to the high 20s by the weekend. We have a break for bottling Pedra Basta 2013 tomorrow then back to picking Syrah and Vioginer on Friday.
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