Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage 2009

Touriga Franca from Block 31. Full disclosure: this particular photo was taken in 2010!

We are very proud to announce that Graham’s has bottled our very first wine whose making was chronicled in this blog:  a Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage 2009.

You may recall that 2009 was a challenging year.  We had had 3 dry winters in a row, so in-ground levels of water were low.  On the up-side, we got some good rain in June, which helped the vines cope – most importantly, enabling them to put out good leaf cover, which served well to protect the grapes later in the summer from the very hot Douro sun.  The grapes were slow to reach phenolic ripeness, and even though we waited longer than many to start our picking, it was a generally earlier than usual harvest, and yields were generally down, particularly in the Upper Douro, where Malvedos is situated, near Tua.  More details are available in Paul’s full Harvest Report.

But, as Paul so frequently points out, with the really astonishing micro-climatisation of the Douro, and the many varieties of grapes we can blend into our Ports, we can just about always make some good wines.  Somewhere on those hillsides, there will be at least a few parcels that did reasonably well in this particular year’s conditions and will make good wines.

For the Malvedos 2009, two of the parcels that responded particularly well to the conditions and set the tone of the finished wine, were blocks 29 and 31 of Touriga Franca.

Touriga Franca is a grape that does well in conditions like 2009’s – it has thick skins, so it is particularly resistant to the desiccating effects of sun and heat, and it really only achieves complete ripening when and where it can enjoy full sunlight and exposure.

Parcels 29 and 31 are just above river level (around 100-120 m of altitude) and face full south across the river.  The vines get all the sun there is, and given a bit of a bend down river, they continue to get sun till quite late in the day, as the sun sets into a sort of notch in the hills to the west.

These were the first blocks of Touriga Franca we picked, on 24 September 2009, and Henry knew he was on to a good thing when he saw the first grapes come in, as you can read in the blog.

The wine was Henry’s 10th lagar of the vintage, and he recalls being pleased with the baumé of 13.2°, which may be why he chose it to star in our very first Video experiment on the blog.  You can see – and hear! – the robotic lagar punching down the cap of the fermenting wine here:

I asked Henry about this lot, and what exactly it brought to the finished Malvedos 2009.  He replied:

This Touriga Franca realized its potential (complete ripening requires lots of sunlight and good exposure), producing a wine robust and rich in colour and structure, with particularly lifted, exotic floral aromas adding complexity, as well as intense blackberry fruit flavours and velvety tannins.

As it happens, the blogger tasted a sample last weekend alongside the Graham’s 2007.  The Malvedos 2009 is incredibly rich with dense fruit – the family resemblance you find in all Graham’s or Malvedos vintage ports – but those floral aromas are extraordinary.

So, now you know what you can look forward to.  As with most of our single-quinta vintage bottlings, the wine, now bottled, has been laid down to age in our lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia, and we will release it when it is ready to drink, probably in 8 to 10 years’ time.  Mark your calendars.