Paul Symington on the state of the vineyards

Another hot day in the Douro. Just 284 mm of rain so far this year measured at our Quinta, compared to 405 mm as average. Some are saying that this is like 2005, but that is simply not true, 2005 was far drier, only 144 mm to end August.  But nevertheless the weather has made our vines struggle. Yields are clearly down dramatically in the Douro Superior where the drought and heat has been worst. It is likely that the Cima Corgo and the higher vineyards will be better off this year and in fact could be very good, but everywhere yields will be down. At my own vineyard, about 450 meters high near Provesende, the grapes are full, healthy and look fine and actually need more time to ripen. The concentration for Port is likely to be very good. Where we have started picking (not at Malvedos until next Tuesday) we have been busy cooling down the must in the tanks and in the lagares. Temperatures of the grapes coming into our wineries are high. This is going to be one of those years where cooling is absolutely essential (if you have invested in it!). In the old days my father and grandfather would have simply had to run the lagares off early without much work or colour extraction, simply to keep the temperatures down. Thank goodness for modern cooling in years like this.   – Paul