Portugal 2015 Vintage Report: Dão
My third regional report on Portugal’s 2015 vintage focused on the Dão confirms what a great year it has been in Portugal’s vineyards. Over to the winemakers not to muck it up! Here’s three leading Dão producers’ take on the year. I’m sure none of them will muck it up, not least since I sense a general swing towards less is more among Portugal’s finest.
Sogrape Quinta dos Carvalhais
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.