2016 Vintage Round-Up

The 2016 vintage has finally come to a close. We had our adiafa (end of vintage feast) on Monday night having picked the last of our grapes (Alicante Bouschet) the previous week. The hot dry summer caused the vines to shut down in August resulting in a late vintage for many growers (ourselves included) as some varieties struggled to ripen. Thankfully the weather has been kind during picking, mostly clear by day and cool by night. The first heavy autumn rain only began to fall yesterday. But the wines that I have tasted so far have an unbalanced streak to them, retaining a herbaceousness at the same time as having relatively high alcohol. Our Trincadeira, picked just after the rain in mid-September is fresh but rather one dimensional (as is often the case). It has been offset in the Pedra Basta blend by the Alicante Bouschet from the old vine fruit which provides ballast, colour and dimension. This won’t be a Pedra e Alma year. The best wine in the adega comes the Syrah - Viognier plot (‘Parcela Granito’) which has real depth and power. I understand that Syrah has done well all over the Alentejo. Despite being picked in the heat, the white wines are looking good, showing freshness and poise.  Overall it has been a very challenging year. The wet spring and early summer proved to be costly due to the number of treatments. Those who took their eye off the ball lost a good proportion of their crop. Unlike 2015 when the sea remained cold for the entire summer, the Atlantic really warmed up this year and the heat wave in from late July to early September took its toll through much of Portugal (not least with the forest fires). Vineyard irrigation helped but many growers found their grapes being scorched on the vine by the late summer heat. From the conversations that I have had so far it seems that 2016 will mostly produce good rather than great wine with yields down by 20 – 40%.