sábado, 30 de novembro de 2019

Douro, the 2019 harvest report

PtoPwine archive
River Tedo valley, Cima Corgo Douro sub-region

A regular year, favorable to the vine cycle...

    Good wine is never or rarely the same every year, because the wine years are always different and the wine must be the result and an expression of the characteristics of the wine year, and also of the specifics of the place where it is born and of man who produces it. To understand and better appreciate it, we should keep in mind and consider all these aspects as much as possible. In the present text we are dedicated to the 2019 wine year following the notes registered throughout the year.

    The previous 2018 harvest ended in mid-October (somewhere between the 2nd and the 3rd week), with the arrival of the first autumn rains. A rainy November followed, and in general an equally rainy autumn, very important to restore the soil water supplies. December also began with some precipitation.

    Late autumn and early winter presented mild temperatures for the season. Late December and early January with dry, cold and frosty weather. 
    February continued with dry weather without or almost no rain, it was a hot month with high temperatures for this time of year, with very little rain and already a drought situation.

    Winter and spring were dry and with mild temperatures - May turned out to be a warm month and the exception to the rule - however, the climatic conditions were good for the vineyard maturation progress.

    Even before the beginning of spring, news of early buds in the vines start to appear in some parts of the Douro, the moment that marks the beginning of the vine's vegetative cycle, a consequence of mild temperatures and a mild winter, with temperatures higher than usual which anticipated and accelerated the start of the vine cycle.

    At the beginning of March the drought situation and little rain continued.

    At the end of March, early spring is marked by temperatures well above average recorded in all Douro sub-regions.

    There is new life on the vineyards with the bursting of the first vine leaves.

    At the beginning of April, in the middle of spring, suddenly there was a moment when the weather situation reversed and the temperatures dropped below average and there was finally some but insufficient rainfall all over the Douro region.
    Also in April, the "Prodouro" (Professional Wine Growers Association) and IVDP (Douro and Port Wine Institute) advised and announced anti-mildew prevention and treatment measures.

    Then followed May, in warm weather within average temperature values. Maximum temperatures of 30ºC where recorded throughout the Douro.

    In general, hitherto dry weather and mild temperatures with little or no rainfall, low humidity levels, and unlike previous years there was no unexpected irregular or extreme weather phenomena affecting production (such as heavy and sudden rainfall and hailstorms, extreme heat, scalding and vine dehydration) especially in the grape flowering phase, which this year occured in good weather condtions.

    During the month of May, with high temperatures and low rainfall, the pressure of the vine diseases was very low, there were no notable mildew attacks, which in turn led to less intervention in the vineyard and the advantage of reducing the required vine treatments.

"Good conditions for flowering, thus bringing a very interesting productive potential". (Fancisco Olazabal, Quinta do Vale Meão winemaker)

PtoPwine archive
River Tedo valley, Cima Corgo Douro sub-region (2)


    In early summer the weather remained dry with temperatures within average. Later in June, with high and above average maximum temperatures (37,2ºC recorded in Vilariça, in Douro Superior sub-region) and also a high temperature range.

    The "veraison" phase took place in mid-July with lush vineyards with a notorious vitality, a sign and prognostic of increased productivity.

    In midsummer in a widespread drought situation, there was rain in late August (there was an "orange warning" in the Vila Real district with heavy rain and thunderstorm forecast, in general without any noteworthy consequences in the vineyards) with some intensity in some areas of the Douro, such as Pinhão and S. João da Pesqueira, that turned out to be beneficial to the vineyards and this along with mild summer temperatures contributed to the grape and wine quality, with a regular, slow and smooth ripening, balanced musts and controlled alcohol levels. There was no extreme heat phenomena and generally these weather conditions were beneficial and persisted until the beginning of the harvest.

    The harvest began in late August and erly September, with high temperatures and with continued widespread drought, hot weather during the day and cooler nights. The red grapes began to be harvested in the second week of September.

    The news of the harvest beginning even refered to an increase of production of around 30% considering the very low yields of the previous 2017 and 2018 harvests, thus not only returning to average production values but surpassing it. 
    In harvest time the recurring pressure of labour shortages and the difficulty of hiring workers to work in the vineyards is felt (not only during harvest but  throughout the whole wine year), a chronic problem and one of the principal present and future Douro region issues.

    During harvest, temperatures were moderate, warm weather during the day and cooler nights allowed uniform maturation and generally providing good acidity. There were no climatic unforeseen events which allowed to follow harvest according to planed without any changes or weather surprises.

    In the middle of the harvest, on 21 and 22 September, there was little rain throughout the Douro, but without consequences in the quality of the grapes, returning then the hot and dry weather.

    The harvest ended by mid-October in the vast majority of cases coinciding with the first autumn rains. And so the work in the cellars and in the tasting rooms began.

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Quinta de la Rosa, Cima Corgo Douro sub-region, arrival of the first red grapes.

    Concluding, it was a year without major climatic extremes, conditions that favored the vine cycle and grape maturation. The vintage report published by the Symington Family Estates refers the good quality of the wines produced, "impressive" in the word used.
    The main characteristcs of this year's wines are balance, freshness and good acidity, but to the detriment of body and structure. There was also an increase in the volumes produced as already mentioned. Dispite the comments of a "superior year" and a "very good quality", we have also heard that vineyards with a lot of vitality and very productive are rarely synonymous with Vintage Port quality and 2019 does not seem to be an exceptional year in the particular case of Vintage Port wines.

©Hugo Sousa Machado

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