The Dao: first impressions of the 2013 vintage

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In general, like other European regions, Portugal has been experiencing a tricky vintage. The Dao, where I arrived yesterday for three days of visits, has been no exception.  Producers are in the final throes of a long drawn out vintage.

However, as my picture of a be-hooded and wellington-booted Sara Dionísio (Casa de Mouraz) confirms, there are reasons to be cheerful. Tasting her whites and the Jaen (red) which, crucially, were picked before the constant rainfall of the first week of October, I can see why – great fruit, good acidity. The combination of a very wet winter followed by a very good summer meant no hydric stress because the winter rains had provided abundant soil water reserves.

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After the rain has been another story. For reds other than Jaen, Dionísio says rot was an issue and fruit had to be dropped (like the botrytised Touriga Nacional pictured above) as up to 40 people sped through the vineyard on one day picking 35,000kg!

For Luis Lourenço of Quinta dos Roques similarly he is very happy with his whites and the Jaen which were picked before the rain. After the first week of October’s rain he reports that, while there has been some rot, another issue was that baumes of Touriga Nacional which had yet to fully mature dropped a degree to 10/11.5 degrees baume. Conversely last week’s unusually high temperatures and sunshine resulted in sugars jumping to 13.5 and even 15 degrees.  A high potential alcohol which he hopes will be mitigated by blending the resulting wines with earlier picked grapes picked at around 12/12.5 baume.

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Similarly Quinta da Falorca and Quinta da Vegia have experienced some shrivel (pictured at Falorca) which, at Vegia, has resulted in elevated alcohols of up to 16.5% potential alcohol, which is far from typical.

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