The first tractor load with 2584 Kg of ‘Vinha Velha’ straight Touriga Nacional arrived from Quinta do Tua at 10:40 this morning. It’s from block 34 planted 1974 in the lower part of the Quinta just above the railway station.
Before lunch the pickers moved back to Malvedos and began on block 106 (planted 1984) next to the river before moving to the impressive schist ramparts of the Fort Arthur vineyard just below the house. We are starting with the lower lying Nacional first and as the picking progresses will work our way up to the top of the Quinta where blocks four and five are situated.
The grapes picked today look very healthy and the bunches are small and compact. The berries are small, thick skinned and dark blue owing to the high concentration of phenolic compounds in the skin, and they look almost like blueberries. The fact that there is such a large skin to juice ratio in berries will also impart a deep colour and complex flavours to the wine – which always makes me happy!
The Nacional is also characterized by extremely low yields and from what I have seen of today’s picking this year is no exception. In fact, despite having the usual number of pickers, due to the low yields we have only managed to pick 5.546 Kgs today (our normal rate being between 12.000-14.000Kgs) and will therefore only fill and tread the lagar mid-morning tomorrow. I am convinced that this low production will also contribute significantly to the concentration of the Touriga Nacional wines we will make over the next few days.
The famous Malvedos rocks serve as perch
When the dam is opened further down the river the water level drops a little and some dangerous looking rocks appear in the middle of the river opposite the winery just outside the navigable channel. Boats should beware not to stray out of the channel as last year a speedboat which made this mistake when the rocks were just below the surface had its hull ripped to shreds.
Hygiene is a very important part of ‘good practice’ in winemaking, and so every morning the lagars’ legs get a good hosing down and we scrub its feet and get the pips out from between its toes!