Portugal vintage 2014 round up
Rain may have dampened spirits about the Portugal 2014 vintage but, nonetheless, there are some very good wines, especially (but not exclusively) whites. As this harvest worker demonstrates, it paid to be prepared for rain or shine! Here’s a round up of producer vintage reports from up and down the country.
Throughout Portugal, there was a feeling of excited anticipation and the expectation of top quality wines at the beginning of the 2014 harvest. Production, however, was expected to be lower than 2013 in every wine region. The Instituto da Vinha e do Vinho (Institute of Vine and Wine) estimated a production of 5.9 million hectolitres, 5.7% less than the previous year.
The viticultural conditions for the 2014 vintage began with a very wet winter which ensured good water reserves in the soil. Temperatures were average for the season. The whole growing cycle progressed normally. This was followed by a mild summer with cool nights that contributed to a well-balanced ripening of the grapes which proved to be good quality. However, the rain was almost constant throughout the year, even during the harvest in most regions. Consequently, this affected the crop which had to be managed through rigorous grape selection in order to preserve quality.
The Sogrape Vinhos estates, the quality of the 2014 wines is determined practically as soon as the grapes are inside the cellars. This was noticeable in the cellars at Seixo and Leda (Douro) and Herdade do Peso (Alentejo), for whites as well as reds. Fine white wines were also made at Quinta de Azevedo (Vinho Verde) and Quinta dos Carvalhais (Dão). As far as production from the Sogrape Vinhos vineyards, thanks to strict vineyard management and treatments carried out during the year, the yields were slightly down or, in some cases, in line with those of the previous year. (Vasco Magalhães, Wine Education Sogrape Vintners, 17 October 2014)
Quinta do Mouro, Estremoz
Summer was the most fresh since there is memory. Maturation was going perfect and acidity was very high.
For whites, with harvest starting at the end of August, it’s certainly the best from my short experience, but probably one of the best ever. Very nice fruit and body wines, with an incredible acidity.
For reds the harvest started a little later, and everything was showing very good. It started to rain quite early and difficult decisions were taken. At the end there are some outstanding wines with very good fruit concentration and extremely balanced due to high acidity. Production in terms of quantity is less by 10%. Lets see how they develop for the next 12 months. (Luis Louro)
Herdade do Esporão, Reguengos de Monsaraz
A difficult year in the vineyard with a lot of disease pressure following a wet winter and humid spring. This was followed by a mild summer leading to a later starting vintage especially in the middle to northern wine regions, compounded by unseasonal rainfall in mid September. A year for the supporters of climate change!
The Alentejo survived pretty well as the cooler ripening season is always a bonus for us and the best varieties came in before the rains. Whites especially look very good, aromatic with good acidity, the reds also promising but in need of a solid malolactic fermentation to soften the palate. (David Baverstock)
Herdade São Miguel (Vila de Redondo)
During 2014 Alentejo had really unexpected weather. An early spring with more rain than usual made a very quick and qualitative bud burst as well as a very good vegetative development, but with some mildew and oidium pressure.
The summer time was cooler but dry which allowed a long ripening process without a lot of hydric stress. Harvest started by the 15th of August with some whites such as Viognier and Verdelho and some reds for rosé such as Aragonez and Touriga Nacional.
On the first week of September all the white grapes were pressed and fermented. ‘’We are very surprised with the aromatic quality as well as the natural acidity on the white wines’.’
Until the 20th September we had entered 75% of the total quantity of red grapes, those reds are very concentrated, with a lot of typicity, deep colour and nice concentration.
On the 21st we had a big storm in Alentejo with a heavy rain of 100 mm in one week, luckily we had also very windy days that allowed us to harvest and keep botryctis away. The skins were not in the best condition and we were forced to make a softer extraction. Those last 25% are less concentrated but very aromatic and easy drinking. At this moment (7th October) all the alcoholic fermentations are finish and malolactics are underway.
For this vintage, we expect to have white wines with a lot of expression and character, very aromatic and balanced entry level wines. On the top wines we have a very good base but time will be decisive to label the quality. (Nuno Franco)
Adega Cartuxa (Évora)
The last vintage, as you certainly know was a quite difficult one for reds. Anyway, the results were much better than could be thought during the harvest.
We had a very good vintage for whites, with many freshness and fruit, and an excellent beginning for reds with very slow maturation which was interrupted by the rain. As the rain was not every day and between the rain we had strong wind the berries kept in quite good condition. We finished the harvest in difficulty but a good work of selection in field and at the winery made at the end a good result. We will be able to taste with interest the wines during the aging…(Pedro Baptista)
João Portugal Ramos (Estremoz)
The year of 2013/2014 can be described with a rainy winter, with values of precipitation above average. This high precipitation values helped to replace water in the dams and also gave the soil enough water to induce the needed vigor to the plants, between October of 2013 and February of 2014 the total precipitation was 450 mm.
Concerning the plant vegetative cycle, the date of bud break was in mid March, flowering in mid May, and veraison in the third week of July. This year spring’s temperatures were considered quite mild, and July was the coldest July in Alentejo of the last 80 years, between bud break and veraison, the total precipitation was 230 mm. During spring, green operations were preformed in the vine to optimize the plants and clusters micro climate, such as green pruning to improve the plant canopy, bunch thinning in younger plants and in plants where yield was higher than normal and also, cover crop to give some healthy competition to the vine plant. Concerning the normal diseases like mildew and powdery mildew, and insect pests, it was a favorable year for this events, so monitoring the vines as often as possible and treating if needed were a key factor to success.
The 2013/2014 campaign was clear marked by an unusual summer, from June to August, in Alentejo, temperatures never reached high values, and during all the summer, temperatures at night were quite low. This was a key factor to achieve a good maturation, both, technological maturation (sugar and acidic level) and phenolic maturation, and it helped a lot the synthesis of anthocyanins. Irrigation was needed, because plants photosynthesis rate were optimized by the daily temperatures, so we used irrigation to replace some of the water loss by transpiration, but in most of the vines were under a regulated water deficit.
The harvest started at the 18th of August with the white grape varieties, thanks to the cold summer, the grapes showed great levels of acidity at harvest. The sanitary conditions of these grapes were excellent, so we could perform maceration pre fermentative to extract the skin aromas. The red grapes started to be harvested at the end of August, like the white grapes, all the grape conditions were very good, with high anthocyanins content that gave wines full of color.
In mid September, an unusual rain start in Alentejo (100 mm in 15 days), this rain came to make the end of the harvest not so easy, we were required to harvest part of the Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon a bit before its best phenolic maturation, to avoid degradation of the skins to the attacks of botrytis. Thanks to the experience of this company in producing quality wines, the rain did not affect the quality of the year, mainly because most of the grapes were already harvested in mid September and because all the vines are treated to avoid compression between the clusters and the canopy is conducted to favor aeration of the clusters as well.
This year, we can expect great wines that can express probably one of the best vegetative cycles in Alentejo in many years, with wines with good balance between alcohol and acidity.
In the Alentejo, Herdade do Peso was the first Sogrape Vinhos winery to start the 2014 harvest, with the first grapes picked on 20th August and the last harvested on 26th September. Contrary to what happened in the other Portuguese wine regions, the weather for this harvest was consistently good, with daily temperatures never exceeding 33° Celsius and cool nights – excellent conditions for the very best quality grapes entering the cellar.
At the beginning of the harvest, the winemaker responsible for the wines of Herdade do Peso could hardly disguise his enthusiasm for the remarkable quality of wines that were already fermenting in the cellar. Now, with the wine made, Luís Cabral Almeida is celebrating 2014 as a fantastic year of exceptional quality! The wines have very good fruit, good tannins and volume in the mouth, as well as being elegant and very fresh. In 2014, the Alicante Bouschet variety continues to show how well it is suited to this region and climate and once again proved to be the preferred variety for Luís Almeida Cabral. The wines made from Syrah grapes are also of very good quality. Touriga Nacional, still relevantly new to these vineyards, has already begun to show its real character. While 2011 was a benchmark year for the Alentejo, 2014 is now being hailed by experts in the region as being of even greater quality.
The sometimes intense rain that fell during the harvest in many regions of the country made winemakers very anxious. The winemakers and directors at Sogrape Vinhos were not immune to this predicament. However, they are pleased to report that their wines of the 2014 vintage are of very high quality. (Vasco Magalhães, Wine Education Sogrape Vintners, 17 October 2014)
This year was quite challenging. The whites have a great acidity, the best I ever had in Bairrada. The reds that we could harvest in the beginning were very nice but the end with the rain was a big loss. We reduced 20-30% of the reds in order to keep the quality.
It was a good year for well drained vineyards; all the low parts the rains affected.
I’m still digesting the end of harvest, very tiring to pick with 2 kilos of clay on each feet. But we prefer to select the grapes in the vineyard and avoid triage in the cellar. (Filipa Pato)
Quinta de Foz de Arouce
Winter showed above average precipitation values, especially in the first months of the Year.
Spring was not typical, with some hot days being interrupted by rainfall periods of one to three days a week and summer was unusually mild and with high water levels in the soil, which meant the vegetative cycle was happening at its regular rhythm, and the plants were showing very good hydric levels at this stage.
During the 2nd half of September, intense periods of rainfall affected the maturation process, which delayed the sugar synthesis. Generally grapes were less concentrated and sometimes in not so good sanity shape.
At Foz de Arouce estate, most of the harvest took place before rainfall, the whites on the first week of September and reds on the 3rd week of the same month. We are very pleased with the white wines, showing a very good aromatic profile. Concerning the reds, they are in general less structured than on previous vintages, more acidic, (due to higher levels of malic acid, that will disappear after MLF), and also very aromatic and with good colour levels.
2014 vintage has been very difficult for me. Spring and summer were not very sunny. Rain and cold conditions several days. More treatments to prevent mildew and oidium, than usual. Difficult conditions for ripening.
When I arrived to Dão in mid-September [Madeira is based in Paris], alcoholic potential in most of the vines was about 11%. I had to wait [to pick] and several days of rain came. It was very stressful. Sometimes rains stopped for a day. Then I tried to harvest some of the more sunny vines. After two weeks of bad weather we harvested everything. Rain developed grey rot in more sensitive varieties like Baga, so I lost around 30%/40% of the production. Sorting in the vines during the harvest was important.
Most of the juices are around 12%, ph 3.2 and total acidity from 6 to 8 g/l which means high acidities, levels more usual on whites. For me it is very soon to assess wines quality. (Antonio Madeira)
At Quinta dos Carvalhais, in the Dão region, the harvest of the Encruzado and Touriga Nacional varieties, to produce sparkling wines, began on 10th September. The white grape harvest began on the 12th and the red grapes on the 16th, in rainy conditions. It rained for one and a half weeks out of the four weeks of harvest. Once again, due to the maturation of the grapes in cool conditions, it was possible to maintain good quality. Also at this Quinta: Tinta Roriz was the variety that best coped with this year of increased rainfall; Jaen, a notoriously fragile variety, was the first to be harvested; as for Touriga Nacional, which suffered from being battered by the rain, we still managed to make some good wines.
However, the Alfrocheiro variety, with the tightest bunches and a tendency to burst with an excess of water, was undoubtedly the most complicated variety to work with.
For Beatriz Cabral Almeida, winemaker at Quinta dos Carvalhais, 2014 was a difficult and laborious harvest. This was witnessed at the winery due to the condition of the harvested grapes. There was more work in the vineyard and more frequent visits to determine the cutting and selection of the grapes at their healthiest and optimum level of maturity which guaranteed that some good wines could be made. In the winery, following the work in the vineyard and the state of the grapes, all the focus was on the most appropriate winemaking techniques, with gentle maceration to obtain quality wines. (Vasco Magalhães, Wine Education Sogrape Vintners, 17 October 2014)
Casa da Passarella (Serra d’Estrela)
It was a year that will begin late growing season, the summer was very cool, with mild temperatures during the day and some cold during the nights, still existed some rain.
With these weather conditions the harvest started late. The harvest of early varieties such as white and the Jaen with a perfect balance acid \ sugars.
In mid September we had the classical rains, some problems have emerged in castes with higher maturities, the greater richness in sugar are the biggest problems with Botrytis.
Fortunately we again have summer in late September, vineyards and later varieties such as Touriga Nacional resisted well in that period of rain, and completed brilliantly ideal ripeness.
Briefly stated, we have great white wines and fantastic Jaen, and late varieties such as Touriga Nacional great elegance. (Paulo Nunes)
Conceito (Douro Superior)
This year started with one of the wettest winters and springs that anyone can remember. Then the summer came, very mild in temperatures, and with occasional rains.
In mid-August the harvest was somewhat delayed, as many grapes were still unripe. However, in localised spots, there was enough maturation, and harvest started slowly and in an unusual way, picking red grapes from this place, whites from this other, then Bastardo (usually the first grape to be picked, together with the Gruner Veltliner).
When we looked into the weather forecast and saw heavy rains coming, it was hard not to panic. A lot of the grapes were unripe, and the forecast predicted periods of rain, then low temperatures, then more rain, more low temperatures. We were afraid that the unripe grapes would go straight to rotten. So we started to pick like we were playing chess. The idea was to have at least some grapes in, despite not being at perfect ripeness. Little by little, picking here and there, we got all the whites in, and we are really happy with them.
Then we got more and more reds. We had already some really good stuff in from the end of August and early September. We got some more reds throughout September, and by being really selective in the field, and really selective again in the table-de-trie, we started to be more at ease with the final outcome, both quality- and quantity-wise.
By the end of September and early October the rains had passed, and we even had some hot days, around 30ºC. Fortunately, these came quite slowly, with gradual heating day by day. Otherwise, the rot would be generalised. How it came, the grapes were already dry when the heat came, and it was possible to make some good wines again.
All in all, I think that there will be great wines in 2014 in the top end, and some good wines in the medium range. (as opposed to 2013, when harvest was separated in two, and whoever could pick before rain will have great wines, and after rain quality will be quite mediocre). (Rita Ferreira Marques)
Muxagat (Douro Superior)
2014 was a complicated year! What happened in Douro Superior? Lots of rain in winter (one of the most rainy ever) and spring, then a not very hot summer. But in the end August/beginning September we had some very high temperatures and started picking very fast because the degree was becoming very high.
I think what happened was something strange for the Douro Superior.We had so much water during the year that the vineyards didn’t have hydric stress so the maturation didn’t stop as usual. Even the leaves were all green in end of August when, usually they start to dry. But the grapes from high altitude were much more retarded which helped us to have a well balanced wines.
Then came the first rains. In two days the potential alcohol dropped 2 degree! Never saw that. So I waited a little bit more to pick. Anyway it was my fastest harvest I had since I started in 2003. Lots of physical and mental work to decide how to make the wines in such a short period.
In the end I think we have some good wines mainly the first pickings of low altitude vineyards. Let’s what happens after malolatic fermentation. The quantity was good. Better than last year. (Mateus Nicolau d’Almeida)
Quinta dos Murças (Cima Corgo)
The Douro was good but it was necessary to assess the weather on a daily basis and pick between the rain. The geography of the region is such that good wines from exposed sites can always be made and of course grapes from the Douro Superior were a bonus. In general, a difficult year but good wines have been made, especially in the Alentejo and Douro. (David Baverstock)
Symington Family Estates
This was a challenging year in the Douro. We had a very wet period from December through to February with 44% more rain than normal. Apart from the difficulties encountered by those engaged in replanting vineyards, this rain was most welcome. It was coupled with mild temperatures that encouraged early bud-break in the first week of March at Malvedos.
The weather remained unsettled through the early summer and on 3rd July a huge rainstorm hit parts of the Douro, with over 80mm falling in a few hours, mainly around Pinhão. This caused extraordinary damage, flooding the local railway station and precipitating an avalanche of rock and mud that destroyed the car of a well-known wine maker in the village (fortunately nobody was in the car at the time). Many farm roads were ruined and for a few days the River Douro ran golden yellow with the large amounts of precious soil that had been washed off the hillsides, once again highlighting the challenge of farming in the largest area of mountain vineyard on earth. Thankfully no hail fell and the vines themselves were largely unharmed, but the farmers had the unwelcome added expense of getting JCB’s in to re-build their farm tracks.
Once the mess caused by this July storm was cleaned up, it became clear that the vines were enjoying the cooler weather which persisted through August. In fact we all began to think of 2007, when an equally cool August delivered some stupendous quality grapes to our wineries.
The maturation continued some two weeks ahead of last year and picking started on 11th September at Malvedos, earlier at our more easterly vineyards. The grapes were in really lovely condition; soft skins, full berries and balanced sugars and acidity, perfect for making great Port and very good Douro wines. But Mother Nature was not in a mood to help us and the weather remained unsettled. In some areas this caused problems, in others the rain made little impact. It is clear that some extraordinarily good wines were made in the Douro Superior which had only occasional rainfall and that was of short duration and therefore ran off quickly. Parts of the Alto Douro had an excellent vintage, other areas less so, and unfortunately parts of the Baixo Corgo had a difficult time. Charles Symington commented: ‘It has been an extraordinary vintage, the difference in rainfall between Pinhão and Tua being almost hard to believe’.
Touriga Nacional was consistently good this year, showing its undoubted class. But what was surprising was how very well Touriga Franca performed. This variety ripens late and its tight bunches and thin skins are a recipe for danger in a year like this. Nevertheless some wonderful wines are emerging from this variety. Souzão was also a star of this vintage.
Inevitably our wine makers had to make difficult choices, so the less blue-eyed varieties had to take second place and some suffered. Various vineyards located near water courses and in the tighter and lower valleys were damaged, as was predictable. The hand-picking that predominates in the Douro, with increasingly heavy cost implications on producers, delivered a huge advantage to us in our winemaking in 2014 as a crucially important selection is made by the pickers, something that is impossible in a machine-picked vineyard.
In a region that is over 90 km long and with an average annual rainfall that varies from nearly 1,000 mm in the west to under 400mm in the east, it is simply not possible to give a blanket assessment of any year and in particular this year. What is certain is that it was not a glorious harvest right across the region as it might have been if the weather had held during September and overall yields will be down, possibly by a significant amount. But equally certain is that in such a diverse region some real gems will have been made as the grapes were in such lovely condition at the outset. The vineyards that were lucky enough to escape the rain, and many did, will have made some really lovely Ports and Douro wines.
Furthermore those winemakers lucky enough to be able to get grapes from various locations across the Douro will certainly have made some brilliant Ports and wines. It was a year to take full advantage of judicious vineyard investment in the best sub-regions.
As if to force home the point about the weather and just as the harvest was being wound up, another astonishing rain storm hit at about 7.00 AM last Wednesday 8th October. In just two hours over 80mm of rain fell in parts of the Douro, again causing extensive damage to farm tracks (some just recently rebuilt after the July storm) and causing great difficulties to those still harvesting and making the river run golden yet again.
Why ‘The Year of the Fox’? The fox is a wily creature and this year it was necessary to be wily (and lucky) and also because our wine maker at Malvedos, Henry Shotton, was fast asleep and alone one night on a mattress in the darkened winery, waiting for a lagar of must to be ready to run off sometime in the night. He awoke to feel something tugging at his boot laces. His fear can only be imagined, and when he sat up he saw that a small fox was trying to steal his boot. Very early the next morning the fox returned, this time to try and eat the fresh bread just delivered by the Tua baker that was hanging on the vineyard trailer…(Paul Symington, 13th October 2014).
At Quinta do Seixo, picking began on 4th September, with grapes from the Quinta itself and from Quinta do Caedo, from the vineyards closest to the river Douro and with a W and SW exposure. By 15th September, 600 tonnes had already been picked, and the enthusiasm amongst the cellar workers was tangible due to the quality of the grapes coming in and the results achieved during fermentation.
Eduardo Gomes, responsible for vinification in this cellar, attributed this result to the level of consistency seen throughout the maturation, due to the mild weather. There was no excessive heat, the plants did not undergo any water stress, and this resulted in very healthy and good quality grapes.
Similarly, at Quinta da Leda in the Upper Douro, expectations were also high at the beginning of the harvest for the same reasons. António Braga, the resident winemaker at this winery, puts it down to a slow maturation during which the vine worked well, which meant that the grapes entering the cellar were in such good physiological condition. Now, the harvest is practically in, and the Head Winemaker at Sogrape Vinhos for the Douro region, Luís Sottomayor, says that the 2014 wines are of very good quality, and he is, justifiably, very pleased. Despite the harvest taking place during almost two weeks of rain, this added to the freshness, fine fruitiness and ample volume of the wines in the mouth.
The weather that was experienced during the maturation and the harvest affected the principal grape varieties differently. This favoured Tinta Roriz in particular. According to Luís Sottomayor, 2014 was the year for this variety, since it benefitted from a cool growing cycle with no heat spikes, which led to ideal conditions for maturation. Grape formation was uniform and the skin of this variety resisted the effects of rain to produce some great wines. On the other hand, the Touriga Franca variety, which prefers high temperatures and dry weather, was not at its best in this rainy season. Nevertheless, the wines made at the beginning of the 2014 harvest when there was no rain, are of good quality.
2014 was also a good vintage for white wines because, in the opinion of Luís Sottomayor, it was a year which promoted good acidity and aromatic expression, which resulted in some elegant wines. However, the quantity was slightly less than the previous year, particularly in the higher areas. (Vasco Magalhães, Wine Education Sogrape Vintners, 17 October 2014)
Quinta de la Rosa (Cima Corgo)
We have finally finished the vintage and the good news is Jorge [Moreira] is extremely happy with the wines and ports he has made.
The vineyard stood up surprisingly well to a challenging year. The flowering was late and then the Douro suffered from caterpillar attacks and oidium. The caterpillar digs deep into the youngly formed grape and forms its chrysalis. This mainly affected Touriga Franca. The summer seemed to be marginally cooler and wetter than normal with numerous thunderstorms but the meteorological data shows otherwise and we seemed to have had a pretty normal, hot summer. There were plenty of hail storms, especially in the early summer, and the top part of the Lamelas vineyard got quite badly hit. The vine leaves had huge holes taken out of them. We did lose about 20% of our crop but only in a small area around the Lamelas house. In general the vine recuperated quite impressively.
By mid August we were looking at a two week delay in starting the vintage at La Rosa. But a few days of intense heat brought the grapes on with a great spurt and suddenly some were ripe. We picked the more delicate Touriga Franca first starting slowly on 25th September (relatively late for recent years). We had a few days of blissful sunshine but then thunderstorms built up and we ended up having rain almost every afternoon over a two week period. For few days the rain was for longer and heavier and we stopped picking. The harvest ended up in being very drawn out and we ended up finishing picking on 9th October.
I cannot remember having had so consistent rain over a long period and we were all fearful for the grape quality. But the grape stood up to the wet weather incredibly well even though the vine was quite stressed after the difficult year (caterpillar, oidium and hail). I believe better vineyard management over the last decade meant that the vine was stronger and more able to stand up to the stress. We have worked hard at making sure the vine is in balance with its environment and age – pruning so the vine produces what it is capable of. Being sustainable we spray much less and listen to the vineyard more. We have worked hard on canopy management as well.
Jorge said ‘When I started working in the Douro over fifteen years ago, a year like this would have resulted in a mass of powdery mildew. The boxes of grapes would have given off a cloud of white powder when they arrived in the winery.’
We started picking Bandeiras in the Douro Superior which is always drier and hotter a month earlier (26th August) so we missed the rains. The Passagem wines are all Reserve quality at this stage.
Thanks once again to Jorge, Nuno and the La Rosa team. We had Harry May from Berry Bros and #mynephewJack helping us as well as Tania Davey (Merchants Tavern). Everyone worked incredibly hard but it was full of laughs as well! (Sophia Berquist)
The 2013-2014 viticulture year, is characterized by the high levels of precipitation, especially during January, February, July and September, and for the climatic instability observed during the summer months, with thunderstorms in June and July.
During the winter, the average air temperature was higher in January than the normal series 31-60, with higher levels of precipitation also in January and February in all Douro Region. In the end of March and middle of May, stands out the intense and continuous precipitation, and the higher average air temperature during April and May.
The summer 2014 was characterized by the climatic instability observed, with thunderstorms in June and July with high levels of precipitation. August was fresher a dryer than the normal series, which contributed to the development of grape maturation, while September had higher levels of precipitation, and also lower temperatures.
This atypical conditions in Douro Region, contributed to the observed maturation advance, which was diminishing in September. Duorum has started the harvest in the Douro Superior, in the 8th of September, and finished on the 12th of October, in the Cima Corgo.
The wines from 2014 are characterized by their elegance and freshness, which results from the good natural acidity and balanced grape maturation. These characteristics, allied with the good concentration of the wines produced, allow us to expect a good evolution for all the wines.
Val da Capucha (Torres Vedras)
We had also an atypical meteorologic year that obliged to more field work and returned a lower yield. Our whites were picked in mid August, as usual, so they were not touched by adverse vintage weather. On the other hand, rainy spring and summer caused some lost due to mildew and powdery mildew. At cellar, white musts were well balanced and evolved toward usual sensorial structure.
Reds drove us to a concerning scenario. Rain was heavy and a wet vintage means more atention at “adega”. Touriga Nacional behave heroic. The thick bloom of the grapes and its bushy attitude proved to be an effective bunch shield to late rains. Tinta Roriz, a difficult organic mode variety , because of its fungal diseases prone character, stood much better than espected. Over all, as you mention….we´ll have some very good wines despite the rains….Let´s see the end of this “2014 Vintage Story”….(Afonso Fernandes Marques)
Rain at the outset of the harvest led to fears about rot but in fact strong windy conditions meant that these fears were not realised and grapes were harvested in healthy condition and at good levels of maturity. (Rubina Vieira)
Madeira Wine Company
A difficult year, not so much for quality or quantity, but for managing the growers [c.600] because a large amount of rain (53mm) in the first week of harvest caused growers to panic; they wanted to rush the harvest. In the (wetter) north of the island it was a terrible year for Sercial (quality and quantity); the Verdelho was, however, quite good. In the south of the island the Verdelho was very good as was the Tinta Negra from Câmara de Lobos (both for quality and quantity). Overall, there was a reduction of around 7% in production across the island compared with last year. (Francisco Albuquerque)
Adega S. Vicente (table wine producer)
It was a complicated vintage because of the rain, especially in the north of the island and for the white grapes because they absorb water very fast. (João Pedro Machado)
Quinta da Lagoalva
Higher crop than previous vintage, but on the average. The year was cooler than common, producing balanced grapes with very fresh natural acidity, and ripe tannins on the reds.
Concerning the wines: Very good quality on whites. Some early ripe reds such Alfrocheiro and Syrah are very good. After the rain, even with all the precautions to avoid botrytis (sprays, canopy management, bunch selection), it was not possible pick ripe and good grapes. (Diogo Campilho)
This year we saw an early bud break. We had consistent rain throughout the vine’s vegetative cycle, and the spring/summer weather conditions were favorable to the development of fungal diseases, especially mildew, which lead to a very close attentive vigilance in monitoring the vineyard. Summer was mild with some humidity, which contributed for an optimum ripeness, productions within the average of previous years and great conditions for quality grapes.
The maturation and harvest of white varieties, by nature earlier than the red varieties, resulted in very favorable weather conditions. The harvest of red grapes however, due to a quite unstable and rainy month of September, with above average rainfall, raised some issues of maturation in some grape varieties, especially the ones that have later maturations.
The white grapes were harvested between the 21st of August and the 9th of September at optimum maturity, both in terms of the balance of sugar / acids as well of aromatic compounds. As in the previous year, this year’s wines are showing a great freshness, with an average acidity higher than is usual in this region, and which is definitely a characteristic of wines from this harvest. Further to this, white wines are showing very balanced, aromatic and elegant wines, with good volume/weight and a persistent finish.
Regarding the reds, the harvest took place throughout the month of September (1st to the 30th). A significant portion of the harvest took place before the start of the most intense periods of rain – grapes came in with an optimum technological, phenolic and aromatic ripeness, originating high quality wines (concentrated with great intensity and aromatic persistence and quality tannins). The most resistant varieties to adverse weather conditions were left to the end of the harvest, and despite the rain, they managed to keep its health status. We believe that these wines produced after the rain will also be good quality wines, though with lower levels of color and concentration.
It was a difficult harvest but I’m very happy with the wines, they are floral and fruity. This year the wines have a high level of acidity so maybe some have to do the malolactic fermentation. (Anselmo Mendes)
At Quinta de Azevedo, in the Vinho Verde region, the harvest began on 15th September, with quite intense rainfall from the 19th. However, the grapes benefitted from a very cool year with good reserves of water in the soil. This factor reflected positively in the wines that feature the Loureiro variety. We obtained excellent aromas and lively acidity, perhaps a little higher than in the previous year, but well balanced for the style of wine from this region.
As the rain continued, it was necessary to use rigorous viticultural techniques involving the selection of the grapes in the vineyard, to achieve the best possible quality. In this region, like the rest, production was lower than the previous year. (Vasco Magalhães, Wine Education Sogrape Vintners, 17 October 2014)
João Portugal Ramos
The winter-spring period, was characterized by abundant daily rainfall until the first days of March, with the same conditions returning back again in April. From January until mid April it rained 1114.2 mm and 1991.4 mm since October, exceeding greatly the region’s annual average (1500 mm); the average temperature from March until day 20 (12.2ºC) allowed a rapid sprouting of all varieties, but the cooling that occurred in the end of the month (9,0ºC) slowed down the plants evolution.
Weather conditions from mid-April until mid-June were irregular and atypical, in particular the flowering period. The heavier rainfall and lower minimum temperatures for the season made that the end of flowering was longer in many varieties, lasting until the beginning of June.
Summer was mild and with some precipitation. The maturations were slower but balanced. The rain returned with intensity to mid-September, making it difficult to harvest and increasing the risks of rot in the less protected vineyards. In general, the productions there were very low compared to previous years.
Our harvest took place between the 3rd and 30th of September. Much of the harvest was carried out before starting the most severe during the rainy season. Our grapes came in with and optimum health status, with good maturation (technological, phenolic and aromatic), with slightly lower alcohol content and a slightly higher acidity.
The wines are looking very balanced, with great intensity and aromatic persistence. Wines have a slightly higher acidity than in the previous vintages, but the fact that is balanced and well integrated, gives the 2014 vintage a great freshness and elegance.