Dead Arm in Spring

It is spring in the Serra. I heard the first cuckoo today. After a long, cold wet spring (there was snow in the Serra da Estrela as late as last weekend) we finally have some summer warmth with temperatures rising into the mid-20s. The vineyard has never looked better with neat rows of vines sprouting that indescribably tender spring green that you only find for a few days at this time of year. We have a potentially large crop of grapes although much will now depend on what happens to the weather next month during the flowering.  

The only area of real concern is the older vines. Every year we are losing a few more plants to a disease the French call eutypiose. This is known in English as eutypa die back or ‘dead arm’, a fungal disease that first manfests itself by killing of an arm of the vine before finishing off the vine in its entirety. There is no cure. Big bald patches are now apparent in the midst of my older vineyards, mostly corresponding to drier patches on the soil where eutypiose is managing to take hold. I fear that it won’t be long before yields from some of the older vineyards fall to a level where they become unmanageable and I will have to replant. This will be to the detriment of Pedra e Alma, our prestige wine based on older, low yielding vines.

Scoring

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