Portugal 2015 Vintage Report: an overview
In the last several weeks I’ve reported on the Portugal 2015 vintage from tip (Vinho Verde) to toe (Alentejo) and toe nail(s) (Madeira and the Azores). Last week, I gained a first hand insight into why producers are so excited about 2015. If Baga (one of Portugal’s trickiest grapes) from Bairrada (one of the country’s trickiest climates) looks as promising as the Ataíde Semedo samples I tasted (not to mention the already released Azores Pet Nats pictured), it’s going to be a great year.
Here’s a compilation of my Portugal 2015 vintage reports with an overview from Portugal’s biggest wine company, Sogrape, who have vineyards up and down the land (but not yet – as far as I know- on the islands).
Sogrape – an overview
2015 was a dry year, which gave rise to top quality wines in the main Portuguese wine producing regions in which Sogrape Vinhos has its vineyards and estates.
From the north to the south of Portugal, in the all the regions in which Sogrape has vineyards and winemaking facilities, there is a consensus among winemakers who agree that the 2015 harvest is very good, with wines of great quality and balance. They all have very high expectations as regards the future development of these wines.
2014-2015 Growth cycle: The start of the viticultural year was marked by very heavy rain. But, from December until budburst in March, climatic conditions delivered a cold, dry winter.
Spring was drier than in previous years, with some occasional rain which helped in positive vine development and good fruit set. A dry summer followed, with temperatures ranging from mild to high, depending on the region.
The dry weather throughout the cycle prevented vineyard diseases and allowed the viticultural work to be carried out as planned. Consequently the grapes ended their vegetative cycle in very good condition, giving rise to a successful vintage which produces wines of very high quality in all Sogrape vineyards.
Aphros (Vasco Croft, proprietor)
2015 was in general terms a good year, in terms of quantity, but also quality.
The problems for us were atypical having more to do with drought and heat than with rain and humidity. Some of the younger vines lost production, or were not able to develop good maturation because of the excess of dryness.
Near harvesting, a few showers had a beneficial effect, and we were able to pick very healthy, maybe the most perfect grapes of recent years. Wines are looking very good.
Here is a video of the harvest, highlighting Croft’s natural, artisanal approach.
Quinta do Ameal (Pedro Araujo)
After a very dry year ( perhaps the most dry one ever… ), before harvest, the grapes were a little bit dry but a 2 day shower in the beginning of the harvest balanced everything perfectly.
Great and healthy grapes, intense and strong aroma, very present Loureiro style. Ripe acidity and fabulous structure, good quantities as well, so couldn’t be better!!
The wines still in vats/casks for ageing. Very positive and happy!
Of my 27 harvests (since 1988) I can say that 2015 is in the Top 3. I hope next March to say for sure, that it is the best ever. The reds from the Douro, Dao, Bairrada and Alentejo are also very good but we have to wait until May/June to say it was excellent.
The year was very dry and the vineyards were saved by the late rains of July. The month of August had hot days and cold nights which allowed very slow and balanced maturation. Some rain in this month also helped the quality.
This year we have 2 distinct wines, the ones before 15/9 and the ones after (we had rain, 20-40mm on the 15 and 16/9).
Almost 100% of the Alvarinho and Avesso was harvested before 15/9. The Loureiro and most of the Vinho Verde grapes were harvested after 15/9. In my opinion the rain improved the quality of Loureiro, increasing the sugar and decreasing the acidity. The wines became more aromatic.
The whites have a very intense varietal expression with strong minerality and very good acidity, are full bodied and long. Excellent year for with great longevity for sure.
The reds from Northern Portugal are very pure and elegant, fresh with smooth and fine tannins.
Quinta de Soalheiro (Chief Winemaker Luís Cerdeira)
A perfect and consistent vintage. 2015 harvest has well balanced and very equilibrated wines with high quality distinction in the Alvarinho.
The summer months and specifically August had moderate temperatures and cool nights that favored a slow maturation and the concentration of the varietal aromas on the grapes.
The beginning of September was dry which contributed to a perfect balance that will reveal complex and more mature fruits with fresh lemon notes in the flavor.
This year we began the harvest on the first week of September to maintain the usual freshness in the Soalheiro.
Soalheiro Alvarinho 2015 is a wine in our style, elegant, consistent and intense.
This year the average dates of budburst were within the month of April, which is not typical at all, as the normal period is around March.
The winter-spring period was characterized by some precipitation in the months of October and November (543,6mm) and very scarce rainfall in December 2014 until March 2015 (231.8 mm), which means that it was a dry winter. We also had a very cold period from December to the end of February with low average temperatures, (7,48ºC), which were highly influenced by very low minimum temperatures in the same period (2,74ºC).
The average temperature rose in March and the first half of April to 11,5ºC and 15,8ºC respectively, which allowed the budburst to occur. Weather conditions at flowering were generally very good with high temperatures and some wind, favorable to fruit set.
In this growing period of 2015, these weather conditions were responsible for the faster development of the vine when comparing with last year, from flowering (-4 days) to the veraison (-3days), recovering the delay of the budburst (+13 days). Much of the month of May and the months of June and July, recorded high temperatures (maximum between 25.0 and 37,0 ° C) and no precipitation. The month of August was also hot and dry.
The weather conditions described above also simplified disease control in the vineyard throughout the year, keeping the grapes in an optimal state of health at the time of harvest. In general the yields per hectare were normal, with grapes being of high quality. Our harvest took place between 2 and 29 September. Grapes were picked in optimal sanitary conditions and with excellent maturity (technological, phenolic and aromatic).
The wines are very balanced, with high intensity, quality and aromatic persistence. The structure of the wine is characterized by good mouthfeel and a very crisp acidity, giving the wines from this harvest a great freshness and elegance.
The rain recorded in the winter months in the Vinhos Verdes region was less than in 2014 but sufficient to replenish water reserves in the soil. Almost from the start of spring until the summer, the weather was warm and dry, with little rain, but the vine held up well reaching veraison with perfectly-formed clusters, but smaller grapes.
Summer was also dry, with temperatures that never got too high. But, by the end of ripening, the vines at Quinta de Azevedo, near Barcelos, were already suffering from water stress.
Heavy rains fell on 12th and 13th September which did not affect the quality of the grapes and even helped to achieve an excellent ripening. The lack of water in the soil at the end of the ripening stage reduced acidity to optimum levels and an alcohol content which was also within the desired levels, not exceeding 11.5⁰ alc./volume.
The Quinta de Azevedo harvest began on 15th September, a week earlier than last year and took place at a good pace until the last grapes arrived on 26th September. According to Miguel Pessanha, winemaker responsible for Sogrape’s Vinhos Verdes, the grapes were in excellent health on arrival at the winery and the harvest took place without any rain.
Compared to last year, there was an increase of between 10-15% in the production and the quality of the wines from the grape varieties planted on the estate, with particular focus on Loureiro, which is very promising. As for the wines produced at Quinta de Azevedo in 2015, Miguel Pessanha defines them as very aromatic, with a great balance of alcohol and acidity achieved.
Follow this link for my Guide to Vinho Verde/the Minho.
Joâo Portugal Ramos, Duorum (Douro Superior)
The 2014/2015 was an atypical year in terms of climate, with a cold and dry winter and a spring and summer which was abnormally hot and dry. What stands out in particular is the reduced rainfall throughout most of the growing season and high temperatures recorded between June and July. This impacted the vine and grape maturation.
These conditions resulted in an advance of the vegetative cycle of about 1 to 2 weeks, relative to the average. As to the water status of the vine between July until the harvest, plants were grown in conditions of intense water deficit, however, the occurrence of precipitation between 15 and 16 September, accompanied by lower temperatures, had a very positive impact both in production and quality, enabling gradual maturation until late September / early October.
The grapes were in an optimal state of health and maturity and there weren’t any signs of dehydration of the grapes. We believe that the precipitation occurred in mid-September contributed towards this. The harvest took place between the first week of September and the second in October, with grapes showing good levels of sugar, acidity and content of phenolic compounds. The musts and wines are showing a very high quality overall. The production from the 110 HA of both Quinta de Castelo Melhor and Quinta do Custodio, was slightly lower than expected.
The wines on the whole, are of high quality. The color intensity (CI) and polyphenols (IPT) were above average and wines are aromatically intense and powerful in the mouth. We think 2015 may turn out to be one of the best vintages since we started in 2007.
Conceito (Douro Superior)
2015 is going to be a stunning year. The weather was close to perfect. Very hot and dry Spring, followed by a Summer that was hot but not too hot, with long strikes of days with a maximum just above 30ºC, and cools nights. This allowed grapes to ripen slowly but steadily, and the harvest started soon, the earliest anyone can remember.
We started to pick red and white grapes on August 19. The grapes were perfectly healthy and ripe. There was some worrying about acidity, with unusually high pHs coming in, but in Conceito we benefited from either early picking, high altitude vineyards, or both. The white wines are probably our best ever, with great minerality,depth, broadness and yet keeping their usual precision.
Reds are structured and at the same time flamboyant. Perhaps less structured and tannic than 2011s, which is good, and less exuberant and fruity than 2012, which is also good. We may have our best reds ever, it’s too soon to say, but at this point we are really happy with our wines.
We have made some white and red Port. It’s too soon to say if we will make a Vintage Port. There was just one day of rain during harvest, 36mm in September 15 to 16. By that time all our best vineyards had already been cropped. The remaining grapes were healthy and we allowed them to properly dry and recover from that rain spell, so we continued til the end of harvest (October, 3) with great grapes coming in for our Contraste line. Winemaker Rita Marques
Quevedo (Douro Superior)
This time we start the vintage report by the end of the season: a generous amount of a steady rain during the harvest brought perfect ripeness to the vines and the best wines to the winery. Before that, well, lets go back to the beginning.
The Winter was cold and dry, and although Spring brought warmer temperatures well above the long-term averages, rain was still too low. The vine cycle started about a week earlier than normal. In terms of quantity it was a regular year, with about 2,5 tons per hectare. Summer arrived and stayed slightly cooler than it normally does, which was a great sign. The vines didn’t have plenty of water reserves but at least Summer was not being too severe, and even more important, overnight temperature in August was as low as 12ºC.
In September the grapes were looking great, no diseases, no dehydration or raisins. All was in line for a good harvest, but far from fantastic. And when the rain arrived on Tuesday September15th and Wednesday September 16th we immediately got very concerned. The two previous years were severely damaged by rain during the harvest. But surprisingly 2015 was different. The steady rain came in two days and was followed by strong winds that quickly helped to dry the grapes and leaves.
Pickers were sent home for a few days as we wanted to see how grapes would react to the rain. And what happened was that the quality of the grapes improved tremendously day after day. We were very happy on Monday September 21st when we resumed harvest and started crushing grapes again. It was amazing to see that this generous amount of rain in the middle of the harvest was changing the quality of the wines so much. (Oscar Quevedo)
Sogrape Quinta do Seixo (Cima Corgo), Quinta da Leda (Douro Superior)
The 2014-2015 growth cycle in the Douro region was characterised by a dry year, in contrast to previous years. After a cold winter and an exceptionally warm spring, summer did not deliver excessive heat, despite some peaks in recorded temperatures.
Luís Sottomayor, winemaker responsible for Sogrape’s Douro and Port wines team, highlights the quality and great balance which mark this harvest. Openly admitting that he was initially apprehensive about the lack of water in the soil as a result of the low rainfall throughout the vegetative cycle, Luís comments that the 2015 harvest went very well and is very optimistic about the development this vintage. He recalls that the relatively mild temperatures and consistent cold nights allowed grape ripening to take place smoothly and progressively until the end of September, beginning of October, with a little help from the rain that fell on the 15th and 16thSeptember. The dry year prevented vineyard diseases and so the grapes arrived at the wineries in excellent health, giving rise to wines with a great wealth of colour, good tannins, good acidity and very balanced alcohol levels, more or less everywhere in the region.
The harvest took place at the normal time, starting in mid-August with the white grapes from the lower areas and ending with the last red grapes which arrived at the various wineries in the second week of October.
With a large, rich and varied vineyard area, estates and wineries in the Douro, Sogrape’s main focus for Douro DOC wines is primarily in the Upper Douro, the sub-region to the east, where Quinta da Leda is located and where Casa Ferreirinha’s top of the range wines are born.
The Cima Corgo sub-region, in the centre, which also produces excellent Douro wines, is the prime area for Porto Ferreira, Sandeman and Offley wines and where the Seixo, Porto Caêdo, Vau and Sairrão estates are located. Interestingly, and despite the wide diversity of origins, Luís Sottomayor underlines the uniformity and balance of the 2015 harvest, with wines of very similar quality throughout the region, both in the Douro and Port wines. He is very optimistic about both and defines them as very healthy, balanced, with good structure and good volume in the mouth. He hopes for and anticipates a positive evolution for all these wines.
The Fladgate Partnership (Cima Corgo, Douro Superior)
“Picking started at Quinta de Vargellas [Douro Superior] and Quinta da Roêda [Cima Corgo] on 7 September and finished in warm dry conditions on 3 October,” reported David Guimaraens, Head Winemaker at The Fladgate Partnership. “Despite a break in the harvest on 15 and 16 September, which delayed the start of the harvest at our quintas in the Pinhão Valley, the weather remained warm and dry, providing ideal picking conditions.”
The winter period was extremely dry. Rainfall at Quinta da Roêda represented 66% of the average recorded over the last decade. However, without the wet months of October and November, there might have been more serious consequences for the vines. Rainfall was also well below average, bringing little relief from dry conditions. Temperatures between April and June were higher than normal with average temperatures +1.6C above a ten year average. Temperatures over 40C were recorded on several days during the last week of June and early July. Véraison arrived particularly early across all The Fladgate Partnership vineyards during the week beginning 29 June, setting the scene for an early harvest. Dry, hot conditions resulted in low vigour and, apart from a small risk of downy mildew following rain during the last week of April and the first week of May, Guimaraens reported that the rest of the season had a relatively low threat of disease. “These favourable conditions ensured the grapes were extremely healthy right up to the end of the harvest,” he said.
August continued to be dry, without heatwaves and was much milder. As a result, the berries were very well preserved with no sign of shrivel or sunburn except for Tinta Barroca, the first variety to ripen, which displayed some characteristic wrinkling. Picking began at Vargellas and Roêda on 7 September followed by Retiro Novo [Cima Corgo] on 10th and Panascal [Cima Corgo] on 12th with warm days and cool nights allowing for long fermentations. The lagares recorded between 14 and 14.5 Baume, but with fairly low acidity levels due to the dry season. The tail end of Cyclone Henry interrupted the harvest on 15 and 16 September bringing 58mm of rain at Roêda and 71mm in Vale de Mendiz, in the Pinhão Valley. The start of the harvest for The Fladgate Partnership quintas in the Pinhão Valley was delayed but warm, dry weather returned providing ideal harvesting conditions until the end.
“We continued to make very fine Ports right up to the end of the harvest on 3 October,” concluded Guimaraens.
Symington Family Estates (Cima Corgo, Douro Superior)
An exceptional viticultural year is coming to a close in the Douro with farmers and winemakers pleased that a year’s work has resulted in some very good Ports and Douro wines.
The rainfall figures for the viticultural year show a reduction of 44% on the 21 year average with just 359 mm registered at Quinta do Bomfim, in the heart of the Alto Douro, for the 11 months to the end September 2015. This level of rainfall would cause serious concern in many wine areas, but does not in the Douro where the indigenous vines are superbly adapted to be able to mature fruit in dry conditions, albeit resulting in the very low yields which are so characteristic of the region.
The geography of the Douro and its schistous soils has an amazing ability to retain the winter rain and this is evidenced by the springs that continue to supply the Quintas and the villages scattered across the hillsides even after 8 or 10 weeks without any meaningful rainfall. Dry farming has recently become a fashionable topic in the world of wine but this subject causes wry amusement in the Douro where farmers have been ‘dry farming’ for centuries and irrigation only covers a tiny percentage of the vineyards.
The little rain that did fall this year in the Douro was nicely timed in May and June and was of ‘the right sort’, being steady and prolonged. This is important as short spells of very heavy rain will simply run off the Douro’s terraces, bringing little benefit and can cause serious erosion. Hence the fact that Douro wine makers never give full credence to the published rainfall figures, knowing that very heavy rain does not always reach the vines and often just ends up in the river.
The period between March and June this year was simultaneously the hottest and driest period for 36 years and flowering and veraison took place between 8 and 10 days earlier than normal, as expected given these conditions. However, July and August were cooler than average and this was of extraordinary benefit to the vines. If the normal heat of August had occurred, dehydration and raisining would certainly have followed, given the dry conditions, and the vines would have been forced to shed their lower leaves, reducing vital shade cover. The grape bunches were in really excellent condition by early September and have seldom looked so fantastic. The cool night-time temperatures had done wonders for the natural acidity in the berries.
The harvest started earlier than normal and the quality of the grapes was immediately apparent. Our sorting tables were seeing hugely reduced rejection levels to the delight of our farm managers and our winery teams. Heavy rain fell on Tuesday 15th September and on the morning of the 16th, but this was followed by a strong wind that very satisfactorily dried the grapes. After 10 weeks with no meaningful rain, the vines greedily absorbed the water and dilution in the berries inevitably followed. This was the critical moment of this year’s harvest and Charles immediately called a halt to picking in our best vineyards. This is never an easy decision given the unsettled weather that often comes towards the end of this month.
Picking in our vineyards only resumed on 21st September and Charles said a few days later: ‘It is amazing how much difference 4 or 5 days can make’. Without this rain the final phase of maturation of the Touriga Nacional and especially the Touriga Franca would not have been ideal, as dehydration would certainly have occurred after such a prolonged period with no rain. In the circumstances the steady rain of 15th and morning of 16th September (77mm at Quinta da Cavadinha, 52mm at Quinta do Bomfim, 63mm at Quinta dos Malvedos and 27mm at Quinta do Vesuvio) was absolutely perfect, provided picking was suspended for a few days.
The Nacional and Franca picked during the week of the 21st and that of 28th September were of simply extraordinary quality, as were some of the old mixed plantings picked during this period. The rain softened the skins, allowing the colour and flavours to merge superbly into the wine. Yields were somewhat below the already small average in the Douro, and Charles recorded 25% less Franca at Quinta do Bomfim this year with just 1.05Kg per vine, but with a perfect level of ripeness.
Only on Sunday 4th October (General Election day in Portugal) did the weather break and by then our very best grapes were safely in our wineries. Courage was needed to suspend picking in mid-September, but the days that followed the resumption of the vintage were beautifully sunny and calm: the risk was well worth taking and paid off handsomely. These 13 days, from 21st September to 4th October will come to be seen as the key to the great Ports and Douro wines made this year, we have no doubt. MD, Paul Symington, 7th October 2015.
‘The Franca lagares have been spectacular’ Charles Symington, 5th October 2015
Ramos Pinto (Cima Corgo, Douro Superior)
A very, very nice year. It will be a vintage Port year. The grapes were healthy, none were raisined, they have acidity, maturity of tannins and good sugar. Though the fruit took a little time to arrive the tannins were soft and mature…as winemakers we try to put some effort into polishing the wines/the tannins to obtain elegance and, in 2015, the elegance was in the year. (Chief Winemaker João Nicolau de Almeida)
Quinta do Noval (Cima Corgo)
The winter was cold and dry. Spring (March to June) very hot, with five heat waves and heavy rainfall that somehow compensate for the lack of water in the soil, allowing a good development of the vines and grapes. The summer was very hot and dry. However, vines resisted well to the climate and at the end of August the harvest presented itself beautifully.
White grapes were picked from the 27 of September. We continued harvesting the Syrah and the ripest red plots. We were having a glorious hot weather and maturation was accomplishing well… But, as in 2014 from the 13th to the 16th, the gods sent us 60 mm of rainfall. 30% of the harvest was already done. Based on favourable weather forecast, and after a week of suspension, we restart the harvest on 24th September to end on the October 14th, with grapes in very healthy conditions and excellent weather till October 4th, period in which some exceptional ports were made.
The white wines show themselves with pretty typical aromas, elegance and full of freshness. The Reds, have great aromatic intensity and elegance, lovely colour, and well structured with good natural acidity that supports and enhances the purity of the fruit.
The Ports are very promising, with deep colour, well structured and a great wild and pure aromatic intensity. (Chief Winemaker António Agrellos)
Sogevinus (Cima Corgo)
Sogevinus owns the Kopke, Calem, Burmester and Barros brands; it also makes Douro DOC wines.
At the end of April, Márcio, Sogevinus’ head of viticulture revealed his observing character by pointing out the amount of blossoming on the vines. He shared a photograph in which one could see a blackbird’s nest with the following caption: “Mother Nature is telling us that this will be a relatively dry spring: the blackbird has nested on the ground, in a soil that usually is flooded at this time of the year, instead of on the tree, as usual.”
In May, after the grapes started growing, Márcio gave us his production forecasts. This year’s weather conditions during the blossoming were indeed very favourable. It is worth noting that in our Quinta de S. Luiz the accumulated precipitation at that time was 63% lower than the average of the last 30 years. We also experienced the effects of El Niño, which is a sign of exceptionally warm summers in Europe.
By mid August, during the first inspections of the grapevines (both on our own Quintas and our viticulturers’) to control their ripening stage, we discovered good development of the grapes, and some precociousness compared to 2014. The vine-growing year was excellent in terms of the grape’s health. However, due to the dry weather, the vines suffered from water recess very prematurely, which prompted the production of small clusters. In spite of this, it is expected to be an excellent year, as the grapes are healthy. August’s cool nights have helped the vines to retain some water.
Sogevinus’ Port wine oenologist, Carlos, and our DOC Douro table wine oenologist, Ricardo, had predicted a difficult year because of the drought, which can cause irregular ripening. That didn’t happen this time. In fact, the production was higher than 2014. Our goals were to reach 7 million litres of Port wine and 1.3 million litres of DOC Douro table wine.
The harvest began in Quinta de S. Luiz on 26 August at 7 in the morning – one week earlier than last year. We started with the grape variety Viosinho, used for DOC Douro wines. In the first week of September, we began harvesting our white Port wines and some super premium plots with specific red grapes varieties, used for both Port and DOC Douro wines. The first day is always quite hectic! Despite the fact that all equipment is tested before the harvesting, there are always things to be tuned so that everything runs smoothly.
The first grapes received in the Winery of S. Martinho (our Winemaking Centre for Port wine) were of the variety Touriga Nacional, arriving from Quinta do Arnozelo in the Upper Douro subregion. The grapes were considered to be excellent quality. The winemaking team was looking forward to tasting the first musts, and Carlos and Ricardo were overheard whispering that this will be an excellent year! Yet the good years are not necessarily easy years. By the third day of the harvesting of the Port wine red grapes, the first musts were not fermenting due to the decrease of the room temperature, and a worried Carlos even pondered whether to heat up the “lagares” so that the natural yeasts would initiate the fermentation.
Tradition says that during the harvesting there is always rain, and this year was no exception. In the middle of September we had to halt the grape cutting for three days at Quintas de S. Luiz e Arnozelo. 19th September was a record day in terms of receiving grapes in our winery: 127,000 kilos! We often find grapes are unevenly ripened, even from the same vineyard. Our work in the winery is vital in solving this problem – by deciding which grape varieties to blend and what is the ideal moment to extract the best of each one.
The Port wines that have been made this year are superb. The white Ports are rather aromatic and full-bodied, and the red are deep in colour, with smooth tannins and a rather extraordinarily complex nose. However, when talking about Port Wines, we know that they need time to reveal all their qualities. And so, to be able to confirm our opinions about the 2015 wines, we need to be patient. We shall wait for winter to arrive in the Douro region and only afterwards will these precious liquids show us all their exuberance.
The winter was cold and dry. Spring (March to June) was very hot, with five heat waves and heavy rainfall that somehow compensated for the lack of water in the soil, allowing a good development of the vines and grapes. The summer was very hot and dry. However, the vines resisted well to the climate and by the end of August the harvest presented itself beautifully.
We started the harvest on the 21st of August with the Rosé and the Syrah. White grapes were picked from the 2nd of September. We continued harvesting the ripest red plots. We were having a glorious hot weather and maturation was accomplishing well… But, like in 2014, from the 13th to the 16th, the Gods sent us 50 mm of rainfall. 60% of the harvest was already done. Based on favourable weather forecast, and after a few days of suspension, we restarted the harvest on the 28th of September and ended on the 4th of October, with an excellent weather and grapes in very healthy conditions.
The white wines show themselves with pretty typical aromas, elegance and full of freshness. The Reds have great aromatic intensity and elegance, lovely colour, well-structured with good natural acidity that supports and enhances the purity of the fruit.
The Ports are very promising, with deep colour, well structured and a great wild and pure aromatic intensity.
The best wines were made after the rain. Some of them are of exceptional quality. (Chief Winemaker António Agrellos)
Niepoort (Cima Corgo)
AMAZING, really very good. Fantastic for white and red and stunning for port. We picked everything before the rain (Douro and Bairrada) and made very sexy fresh vibrant wines (Dão also very good and the rain didn’t affect the quality.
Port we picked mostly before the rain but kept quite a bit of exceptional vineyards to be picked after the rain. We will see what will really go into the vintage. (Chief Winemaker Dirk Niepoort)
Adega Co-operativa de Favaios (Cima Corgo)
For leading Moscatel do Douro producer Adega Co-operativa de Favaios 2015 was an excellent vintage for Favaios region. The summer was very dry but in relatively high altitude areas as Favaios, some water was available in the soils, allowing balanced maturation. The alcohol content is higher than usual, but the acidity is also high, allowing to make well-balanced wines and aromatic. Certainly in the top 3 of the last 10 years. It was an average year in terms of quantity.
The viticultural cycle in the Dão experienced a drier winter than the previous year and rainfall at the start of the season allowed some water reserves to build up in the soil, which supported the vine during the dry spring and summer months. Unlike previous years, by the end of July 2015, veraison (the onset of ripening) was evident at the Quinta dos Carvalhais vineyard and grape development until ripening was normal and balanced, with the harvest starting a week earlier than last year.
Harvest began on 9th September with the white grape variety Verdelho. Harvest went smoothly with good weather before the arrival of the rain on the 15th and 16th which led to its interruption. However, the white grapes from the Quinta, Verdelho and Encruzado, were already at the winery.
Before the arrival of the rain, the Tinta Roriz variety was harvested from the Miradouro and Palmeira vineyards. As for the 95 mm of rain, as strange as it may seem, it did not affect either the quality or the quantity. At the time of the rain, there was a drop from 13.5 to 13 degrees of alcohol in strength, but the day after the rain had stopped, it rose to 14 degrees. Due to the dry weather between veraison and final maturity, the vine needed water and the rain helped in the development and final ripening of the grape. As a result of a positive vegetative cycle, the grapes arrived at the winery in a very healthy condition: small berries; a good skin to pulp ratio: good tannins; balanced acidity levels and excellent colour. The pulp slipped easily out of the skin, allowing the work at the winery to be gentler in the vinification process.
For Beatriz Cabral de Almeida, winemaker responsible for Sogrape’s Quinta dos Carvalhais and Dão wines, this was a harvest which produced very good wines. The quality of the red grape variety Touriga Nacional deserves special mention, in particular that from the Anta vineyard. Here, Beatriz decided to wait a few more days to achieve optimum ripeness and harvested it last, at the start of October.
Quinta dos Roques/Quinta das Maias (Luis Lourenço, Manager)
I don’t have a complete vintage report yet but I can say that we are really, really happy!
To begin with the quantity, it increase a little bit for us but with an important increase in terms of the Dao region.
Regarding quality, in the end of August the prognostics (at least mine) were not very bright; the summer was very hot and dry and the maturation of the grapes (which were very healthy) was not very well balanced with some dehydration causing the rise of sugar contents but not a correspondent decrease in acids and the flavor precursors were a little bit mute. Fortunately the rain, that most of the times is the bane of our region, came and, followed by sunny days, allowed a perfect maturation of the grapes.
The whites are what we always want: fresh, flavorful, mineral, elegant, in summary at the same level of 2014 or even better, let’s give them a little bit more time to be sure. The reds (of which I usually prefer to talk after the winter passes “over” them) are very well balanced, with good alcohol contents (not excessive), very good acidity and structure and clean flavors typical to the Dao.
Casa da Passarella (Chief Winemaker, Paulo Nunes)
The vintage 2015 far surpassed the expectations, after an extremely dry summer that caused some imbalances, two days of heavy rain in mid-September came to help immense balance, it was a harvest of hard work, harvest of long maturation cycles, but so in the Serra da Estrela. I am very happy with this harvest, many fine aromas elevated maturation polyphenols with very controlled alcohols.
Luis Pato (Luis Pato)
More quantity than usual but the “precision harvest” controlled it well.
Only a light rain during red picking for one day that didn’t affect the vintage quality…..I believe that will the best vintage for both Pé Franco……
Filipa Pato (Filipa Pato, William Wouters)
The 2015 vintage was a “dream vintage” for us. Springtime gave us moderated temperatures and just enough rain and sunshine to announce a premature ripening process. Summer was rather cool with no excessive temperatures but a nice and smooth ripening cycle.
September gave us just the health we needed to round off this textbook vintage! Between the harvest of the whites and the reds there was one day of local rains which refreshed the vineyards for the better… We wish we could repeat this kind of harvest every year! The quantity this vintage was quite good and the quality extremely satisfying.
Campolargo (Carlos Campolargo)
In 2015, finally, we had a regular crop (quantity). Mostly, fruit is nice. We still pick as I`m writing to you [21 October]: hope to finish today…we started the 4th August!
Only by the end of January I will make my judgment of the reds. Whites and basic for espumante seem pretty good.
Quinta das Bágeiras (Mario Sergio Nunes)
About this year´s harvest – great year in Bairrada – dry, not bad for us, good quality and quality.
Buçaco (Antonio Rocha, Manager)
NB Buçaco’s wines are a blend of Bairrada and Dão fruit (click here for a report of an extensive vertical tasting).
About the 2015 Buçaco vintages, it seems to me for the whites is fantastic! The reds…I don’t know…it’s too early…the colours are very good….they just finished the fermentation this week [27 October].
Foz de Arouce (Joâo Portugal Ramos)
With the exception of the month of November where precipitation levels were well above the average, the remaining winter months (December to February) were very dry. However, the average temperatures were below average. The spring was rather dry. During June and July the average temperatures were significantly higher than average.
As for the vineyards water status from July up to the date of harvest, the plants developed in conditions of drought, which led to a delay of the maturation; however, the rain in the middle of September had a very positive impact both on production and quality, allowing maturation to progress gradually until late September / early October.
The harvest took place in the first week of September for whites and during the second half for the reds. The quality in general was very high, not only due to good maturation conditions but also to an optimal health status. Production was above normal, largely due to optimal weather conditions.
Wines have a high colour content and amount of polyphenols, with ripe fruit aromas and a lot of structure supported by good acidity. It looks like it’s a year for great wines from Baga, which for Foz de Arouce is fantastic news!
Quinta de Chocapalha (Chief Winemaker, Sandra Tavares da Silva)
The viticultural year 2014/2015 started with a good level of precipitation but spring and summer was unusually dry. The relatively mild spring provided very favourable conditions for flowering and a good fruit set.
And finally summer was very dry but more mild than usual, permitting an amazing phenolic development and great acidity levels with balanced sugar contents.
So 2015 wines are very aromatic, dense with great tannins and very fresh. They are promising!
One of the earliest harvest ever at the Estate. It started with the Viognier (as usual) on the 24th of August.
The spring temperatures were higher than the average and the year was rather dry overall. But thanks to a smooth summer, and to the viticulture practices that have been adopted for the last 10 years, from the beginning of our conversion to organic farming, the vines retrieved to get their water deeper, achieving a slow but complete ripening of the grapes, even on a dry year.
The harvest lasted 6 weeks and the grapes were incredibly healthful all the way long to and through the harvest. The grapes went smoothly through both alcoholic and malolactic fermentations.
Despite the year’s characteristics, the musts appeared quite balanced and aromatic, showing smooth tannins and nice concentration of colour. The resulting wines have been showing so far a nice structure, acidity and complexity.
Quinta da Romeira (Francisco de Sousa Ferreira CEO)
The year in Bucelas have been very dry. December 2014 through March 2015 have been considered has moderate dry with levels of rain inferior to average. April and May were drier with temperature above average and with almost no rain. June has been considered the warmest of the last decade. August had no rain as well being this year considered the worst dry in the last 70 years.
In Quinta da Romeira we have produced around 350.000 Kgs, clearly above previous year, being considered the best year of this estate since ever. This was the second year with viticulture done by Wine Ventures which acquired Quinta da Romeira in January 2014. We have changed the way pruning was made and have adopted integrated production practices.
The grapes were very healthy; the average alcohol degree was 12,5%. The balance between alcohol and acidity was very good and these whites show potential to improve with time, gaining complexity, typical from Bucelas Arinto. The oldest vines, exposed to south, were left to the end being used to make Morgado de Sta Catherina.
As a conclusion, the dry year didn’t allow to have big berries, which impacted the yield (around 72%), but the sanitary conditions were perfect allowing us to produce musts with high quality, balanced and showing fresh fruit.
When compared with last year, this was definitely a much better vintage. In general, the harvest was good in all Bucelas region so we expect the Bucelas wines, in general, to have a very good vintage.
Falua (Joâo Portugal Ramos)
The 2015 year was characterized by reduced rainfall in winter and spring / summer, where accumulated precipitation values were well below the average values for the region.
Temperatures in some months of spring and summer were very high, with the month of May, being one of the hottest in recent years.
During the growing season there were no major conditions for the development of diseases, and therefore the grapes were in excellent sanitary condition.
The harvest with its dry weather and mild temperatures resulted in grapes with good alcohol content and acidity. The climatic conditions of the year, led to a slight fall in production, but with optimal balance between vegetative growth and yield, contributing to good ripening of the grapes.
Overall the 2015 harvest started and ended approximately one week earlier. Given we were facing a hot and dry year, we were allowed in some situations to wait a bit longer, so that the grapes move to the optimum point of maturation.
The white grapes were harvested between 12 August and 9 September at optimum maturity, with regards to both the sugar / acid balance, as well as in aromatic terms. The wines from 2015 look very balanced, with high quality and aromatic intensity, great mouthfeel and persistence. The acidity is high, but well integrated and gives wines from this harvest a great freshness and elegance.
The harvest of red grapes began on September 2 and took place throughout the rest of the month. Optimal maturation of phenolic and aromatic compounds, meant grapes were of high quality – the wines were very concentrated at all levels, with great intensity and aromatic persistence with a structure backed up by high quality tannins.
Quinta da Lagoalva (Diogo Campilho, Chief Winemaker)
The vintage went very well, whites very fruity and crisp, reds good colour and a very good balance between tannins and structure.
Península de Setúbal
Co-operativa Agrícola de Stº Isídro Pegões (Jaime Quendera, Chief Winemaker, Manager)
One of the best vintages ever. I make wine in Pegões , Ermelinda and several others on the Peninsula de Setubal area since 1994 and Alentejo (2 wineries) since 2007, Lisboa (2 wineries) since 2010, Tejo (1 winery) since 2007, on a total of more than 30 000 000 kgs. With all these years of experience, and in the quality till now I can tell you is fantastic, in what mostly already finished, they are TOP, with natural acidy(which in the south is important), lots of fruit a great balance, but all this with good quantity.
In the reds, excellent quantity too, the grapes have reach high maturation, no rain in the harvest and the wines from this vintage have result in deep reds rich elegant with great potential. It’s quite early yet, we are in the middle of the malolatic fermentation etc, but from the quality we have now we are clearly expecting a magnificent year.
The key for this was in the south mostly was a hot summer (but not too hot) with some fresh nights and a completely dry harvest that allowed the plants to reach perfect maturation in perfect time, with no rush in picking them because it was going to rain. So we picked all the grapes in their most perfect maturation for the wines we want to make.
The year 2015 was very dry: the winter provided us with less water than usual, just enough to have some reserves for irrigation later in the season. From budburst to flowering the temperatures where higher than normal as well, part of the decrease in yield this year can be explained by the warm temperatures during flowering. From veraison to the harvest, the temperatures got closer to the norm, but there was no rain.
Being such a warm and dry year, the plants were of course under a strong water deficit, we were able to irrigate and that helped a lot, but even with irrigation, the berries were smaller due to water loss, and with that, we have more skins and seeds comparing to pulp. This aspect was a key factor in our wine making techniques this year.
The weather during the harvest period and also from veraison to harvest period was dry, but with cold nights and fresh mornings, which helped a lot to conserve the acidity levels. The grapes arrived at the winery without any health related problems, there were no conditions to develop diseases in the clusters. Also, due to dehydration, the grapes provided musts rich in concentration. In the white varieties, the ones that suffer the most with lack of water, we harvested them very early in the season (10th of August) and also very early in the day, so the grapes could arrive with low temperatures at the winery. Harvesting this way, we were able to retain the natural acidity, which is an important factor to have good white wines in Alentejo.
We can say we are pleased with the year, despite bad weather from April to July with extremely high temperatures and the lack of water. We have concluded that the grapes are good, but we can’t compare this vintage to the likes of 2011 which many producers are doing. The yield in 2015 was below normal, mainly because of dehydration and also contributed by some flowering problems early on. We estimate to have less 15% than normal.
The white wines we have made this year have a very good mouthfeel and are rich in aromas. The varieties are used to warm climates, and so have provided us with great wines. The varieties that are more sensitive to warm temperatures, like Verdelho for example didn’t give us the aromatics that we would normally expect. Concerning the reds, we can’t complain: concentration was obtained naturally due to the water loss in the vineyards, some wines had less time fermenting with the skins and seeds than other years to avoid extracting green flavours. This was an excellent year for Cabernet, Syrah, Touriga Nacional and Aragonês, while our Trincadeira suffered a little bit in this year’s weather conditions.
According to Luís Cabral de Almeida, winemaker responsible for Sogrape’s wines in the Alentejo, this region’s growth cycle followed the trend of the rest of Portugal. However, during the summer, which was marked by hot, dry weather, the cool nights so typical of the Vidigueira area in which Herdade do Peso is located, arrived later than usual.
As usual, grape maturity was monitored in order to schedule the harvest. It was noted that as early as August, the vines were fighting against the heat. Faced with this scenario, it was necessary to gauge the optimum stage of ripeness for the red varieties.
This was achieved as a result of a drop in nocturnal temperatures at the end of August, which balanced the development of the phenolic compounds. Herdade do Peso, August 2015
Harvest at Herdade do Peso began on 17th August with the white grape variety Arinto, followed by the other white varieties and some early reds. On 9th September the first grapes from Herdade do Peso arrived at the winery for the premium red wines, such as Herdade do Peso Colheita and Reserva. The white wines were already fermenting in vats and barrels; wines such as Herdade do Peso Colheita Branco.
As for the work in the winery, this year’s innovation was to start the fermentation process in clay amphorae, an ancient method introduced by the Romans hundreds of years ago now being revived at Herdade do Peso. As this is a trial year, Luís chose to use a blend of red grape varieties and will now monitor the progress and evolution of these wines.
The harvest lasted until the second half of October with the last Touriga Nacional grapes harvested on the 20th. Luís Cabral de Almeida is very happy with the results and the whole harvest in general. As far as the white wines are concern, the spotlight is on the performance of the Arinto variety and it is possible that a little more of this variety will be needed to complement the structure of the Antão Vaz variety in the blended wines.
As for the red wines and the continued good performance of the Alicante Bouschet red variety, the highlight of 2015 is the Syrah variety. This grape variety presented the best results in terms of colour, aromatic richness and structure, leading to very high expectations regarding its future development.
Herdade do Mouchão (Iain C. Reynolds Richardson)
After a dry winter (300mm) and a very hot and dry spring and summer, the Alentejo harvest started early – very early. Mouchão was no exception, with 2015 being the earliest harvest on record. Never before had reds been harvested in August at Mouchão.
Total rainfall for the season was a mere 385mm (Évora), so irrigation was relied upon for the months with greatest heat stress in May, June and July (avg max temps 30ºc, 33ºc, 36ºc). Plant metabolism was strongly influenced by these stress factors. Whilst berries did not dehydrate or suffer from sun-scorch for the most part (as sometimes occurs in August in hot years), sugar levels soared unexpectedly at the end of the second week in August (Baumés over 14). Whilst pips were relatively mature, the pulp remained attached to these in most red varieties until the second week in September. Skins were also a little raw early on, and slightly short in pigmentation. Aromas were shy during this first phase of the vintage.
The second phase in cooler conditions was ‘night and day’. The fruit was aromatic and fresh. Alcohol levels were surprisingly low for what we might have been expected. Some very fine wines were made at Mouchão. Natural acidity was excellent throughout the harvest. There was little disease of note in the region though leaf hoppers did create defoliation issues for some growers nearer the harvest. The thin-skinned, tight-bunched Trincadeira – the Alentejo workhorse – did not like the half-day of rain on the 5th September and needed harvesting quickly before sour-rot had time to set in.
Harvest volumes are expected to be very similar to 2014 across the Alentejo – perhaps fractionally lower. In Mouchão, 230 tonnes were harvested (89% of which was red), almost identical to last year. So far we can say 2015 was above average in quality; some of the late batches in particular could prove exceptional.
Herdade do Esporão (Red Winemaker Luis Patrão)
The 2015 growing season was marked by a very dry winter followed by above average temperatures during Spring and Summer. These hot, dry conditions resulted in an earlier than normal start to the harvest, at Esporao we began on the 3rd August, about a week earlier than usual. Although temperatures were generally on the high side, we did not have extreme heat, with only a few days above 40ºC.
The harvest weather conditions were good and we had only one afternoon of rain towards the end of the vintage, so grape quality was excellent throughout.
In vineyards with irrigation, the grape quality was mostly very high although growers without this backup suffered. The cooler, high altitude region of Portalegre, where are we sourcing some 400 tons of mostly red grapes, has produced outstanding quality.
Quantity was generally around 10% below average, which was expected given the dry conditions. At this stage, the whites are looking good with plenty of fruit flavour. The reds have great colour but are still going through malolactic fermentation so final assessment is difficult. Syrah looks to be a stand out variety, Alicante Bouschet also.
Quinta do Mouro (Winemaker Luis Louro)
2015 was one extremely dry year. Summer was in average warm but not with extreme temperatures, surprisingly vineyards were with limited hydric stress especially the non-irrigated ones and older. Grapes were very healthy and plants had lot of green leaves. Everything appear to be fantastic.
September was also a dry month and we had time to harvest in perfect conditions of maturity, flavors, and healthy. Wines are just fantastic in all dimensions…Quantity was also bigger this year.
Casa Agrícola Alexandre Relvas (Alexandre Relvas)
Longest vintage of the last 10 years: from the 5th August to the 9th October:
– Average yield per ha in Red Grapes: 7,4 Ton / ha (7,5% less than 2014)
– Average yield per ha in White Grapes: 8 Ton / ha (20 % less than 2014)
– More qualitative red grapes of the vintage: Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet , Touriga Franca and Syrah
– More qualitative white grapes of the vintage: Antão Vaz, Verdelho and Viognier
2015 was a very dry year in Alentejo. First rains arrived during the months of October, November and December of 2014 with some intensity. From January 2015 until the beginning of our harvest we only had 150 mm of rain (normally– 400 mm).
Concerning mildew and oidium it was an easy year to work with. We had some mildew pressure during the first vegetative months. The summer time was very dry but not so warm which had allowed to a long ripening. Due the high stress hydric we had in all the vineyards the same quantity of bunches but with a lower weight.
Alicante Bouschet from Herdade São Miguel evolution since December 2014 to October 2015. Harvest started by the 5th of August with some Whites such as Sauvignon Blanc and Verdelho and on the last week of August with some Reds for Rose such as Aragonez and Touriga Nacional.
On the 25th of September all the white grapes were pressed and fermenting. ‘’ 2015 is a very nice vintage for Whites and Roses in Alentejo, the wines are very rich in aroma with very fresh and delicate acidity‘’ (Nuno Franco).
The red grapes harvest had finish on the 9th October, last grape getting in was Alicante
Bouschet from Herdade da Pimenta. ’For the reds we can expect from 2015 wines with really deep color, great aromatic intensity and very balanced tannins and acidity’’. (Alexandre Relvas)
At this moment (14th October) all the alcoholic fermentations are finished and malolactics are on their explendor. For this vintage, we expect to have entry and middle level wines with superb quality, with a lot of expression and character, very aromatic and balanced.
On the top wines we have a lot of expression, and very qualitative tannins. Ageing will be crucial to know if we have an historic vintage. We can say that 2015 is a very good vintage in Alentejo.
Adega Cartuxa (Pedro Baptista)
Mother Nature produced light rain throughout 2015, resulting in weaker vines and smaller berries than usual. Mild temperatures were from time to time offset by short- lived hot weather, with maturation developing slowly and gradually, as expected.
Picking of white Arinto and red Touriga Nacional varieties – the backbone for the sparkling wines – started on July 27th.
Harvest of other white grapes, like Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Verdelho, started on August 10th with the picking of all other red and white grapes starting a week later.
The conditions throughout the year had an impact on vinification, resulting in smaller than average yields.
As for final quality in the bottle, it’s too early to know, but here’s a sneak peek: white wines are very promising, showing freshness and aromatic intensity, with reds showing good concentration and elegance.
We believe that 2015 will be a good vintage, with wines, reds and whites, full of potential.
It was one of the most (if not the most) rainy harvest I ever remember. Maybe Saint Peter wanted me to remember forever my 25th harvest, marking it with lots of rain. I have ended up making 47 wines (small and big quantities) but I think at least 8 to 10 are really wonderful.
From my point of view the best grapes in this year have been the Sercial then the Verdelho (in this case more particularly the Verdelho from São Vicente). All others, in general, normal condition and would have been much better with no rain. I was happy with quantities and this year all my needs have been accomplished in all varieties.
Blandy (Chris Blandy CEO)
After a cold winter and dry spring, there was a general feeling on the island that not only was this year’s harvest going to be plentiful, but many were talking about and the excellent potential quality.
The strong winds on the north in the spring did have a negative effect, albeit small, with some plant damage. The wind did however mean that Madeira’s biggest enemy, humidity, was kept to a minimum.
The fantastic conditions leading up to August and the start of harvest were suddenly replaced with a lot of rain, the majority of which fell on the north of the island, especially in São Vincente.
We received our first grapes on the 19th of August with verdelho from our Quinta de Santa Luzia in the centre of Funchal.
Due to the 7 different micro climates on the island, the vintage was a very positive one, though by no means to the standards that we all were hoping for after the spring. We were however very fortunate to buy well above our budgeted amount of the white varietals and the most that we have bought in 6 seasons.
Malvasia. From Santana – NE quadrant. Quantities good. Tough harvest due to rainfall and humidity at key times before and during picking.
Bual. From Calheta – S/SW quadrant. Quantities very good. Very good quality from pockets in Faja de Ovelha and Campanario
Verdelho. From São Vincente (N), Porto Moniz (NW) and Calheta (SW). Vintage quality from Faja de Ovelha (which we also used to produce our white wine). Northern vineyards struggled with the rain in August and September.
Sercial. From Jardim da Serra (S) and from Seixal (N/NW). Vintage quality from the south vineyards. Lesser production from the north.
Tinta Negra. From Camara de Lobos (S) and São Vincente (N). Including pockets in Campanario (S) for Atlantis rose production. Better quality from the southern vineyards in comparison to the northern vineyards.
Our 2 vineyards in the north, Quinta do Furão and Quinta do Bispo are still very much in their early stages and production amounts were naturally small. There were some very positive signs however from the development of the vines and by implementing some minor changes, the properties will be in a good position to take on 2016.
The Quinta de Santa Luzia on the south continues to remain our “experimental” vineyard with sercial, verdelho, bual and terrantez there planted. My cousin Andrew has reconverted an old house on the property and is now offering bed & breakfast accommodation which is already seeing some fantastic success.
Here’s a video little taster of Blandy’s 2015 harvest.
Azores Wine Company (António Moita Maçanita, co-owner, winemaker)
9/10 – Amazing year, very dry until very late – incredible musts – we have a wine from a + 100 year vineyard with 13,4 Alcohol and 8,5 of TA; incredible.