As a result of a hot August and a generally dry year, there have been a lot of comparisons with 2005 floating around in casual conversation. What happened then was that a lack of water during the winter and spring followed by a very hot summer caused severe water stress in the vines, causing them to lose the older leaves on the shoots (roughly the basal third). This had two negative effects: it vastly reduced the amount of photosynthesis possible, meaning that the phenolic ripeness of the grapes was very sluggish, and it also left the bunches exposed to the sun. Conclusion: green fruit dehydrated and started to shrivel without ever really ripening. This was particularly bad on the western and south western side of the vines.
But this year is by no means as climatically extreme as 2005. In fact, both 2005 and 2006 were considerably hotter than 2009 for the corresponding month, and indeed had been for every month from April onwards. Furthermore, in 2005 the total precipitation for the agricultural year had not even reached 200 mm by the start of September – we have already had double that this year. – Miles Edlmann
A favourite Friday after work haunt of ours, this “tasco” (tavern) affectionately known to all as the Badalhoca (you don’t want to know what that means) serves perhaps the best “presunto” sandwiches in town. The sandwiches are so good it’s the sort of place that you see all types of people rubbing shoulders together – today for example it was full of uniformed policemen doing exactly the same as us. Off duty no doubt(?!) Definitely worth a visit if you haven’t been there. HJS
The river has taken on a quite bright greenish colour, presumably a result of some warm water species of algal bloom. A couple of tall, thundery clouds rolled in at the end of the afternoon, but there is no chance that they will bring us any rain. – Miles Edlmann
Following careful maturation studies of each grape variety it has now been decided the ‘roga’ will start picking at Malvedos on Tuesday the 15th September. Fonseca, José and I plan to arrive at the winery on Monday morning to tie up any loose ends before D-Day. – Henry Shotton
A note from Graham’s Sales Director Euan Mackay
Left Malvedos at 07.00 am this morning just as the sun was peeking over the hills, no doubt another hot day in store. Yesterday the thermometer reached 42 degrees !! Are we really in September ? None the less the grapes in the vineyard seem to be holding up well which provided me with an excellent opportunity to explain the difference in taste between Touriga Nacional and Tinta Barroca to a group of Swedish retailers who had braved their way up from Pinhao to Malvedos by Barco Rabelo. Hejda !