Graham’s eastern-most quinta is Quinta do Vale de Malhadas in the Douro Superior, just east of Quinta do Vesuvio along the southern bank of the Douro. The extreme heat and dryness of this end of the Douro is slightly mitigated by the north facing aspect of the property, and the wines made here bring power, tannic structure and rich jammy black fruit to the Graham’s blends.
This quinta is privately owned by three of the current generation of Symingtons: Paul, Dominic and Rupert, who acquired it in 1999. Malhadas has 70 hectares under vine (the same as Malvedos), and another 70 of natural scrub, olive and almond groves. This end of the Douro is wild, austere and remote, but the wines are superb and even in the late 19th century were considered well worth hazarding the trip and conditions.
The harvest began on 20th September. When these photos were taken on the 28th they were working through the Tinta Roriz vineyards on the west face of the eastern undulation of the hills. As at Malvedos, they have a harvesting roga of about 20 to pick the grapes and work carrying the buckets in and out of the vineyards.
What is different from Malvedos is that this remote quinta has no winery, so the grapes must be transported down river to one of the Symington’s larger wineries for vinification. The pickers fill large buckets which are distributed through the vineyards ahead of time, and then leave the filled buckets in place for the handling team to pick up shortly afterwards. The team then transport the buckets back to a lorry with large steel bins on the back, and empty them one by one into the bins, for the long journey down river.
Dominic Symington spent this past weekend at Malhadas to oversee the harvest for a few days himself, and wrote in with this report:
Things are looking really good at Vale de Malhadas, the fruit is in superb condition and the Touriga Nacional has just finished. We have now moved to the Touriga Franca, and still have 3 days of picking to go.
Both the Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca are being vinified in small, individual parcel lots.
Up to last night we had picked 117,000 Kgs = approx 117 tons, which is a very good yield from this Quinta although one has to take into consideration that the Touriga Nacional is only 6 years old therefore just now coming into prime quality production.