At 07:15 it was overcast and muggy with low lying grey cloud. Some sporadic light rain or drizzle fell during the day which was not significant and will do no damage to the grapes but has at least served to settle the dust! This is the first day since we started the Vintage on the 15th September that wasn’t one of bright sunshine. The forecast is for sun and warm temperatures again tomorrow and for the coming week.
Following the picking order established with Charles, after the Quinta do Tua Touriga Franca was finished late in the afternoon the 24 pickers returned to Malvedos and managed to get in one tractor load of Franca from Malvedos block 31 (see map) down by the river. Tomorrow we begin on the Malvedos Franca in earnest. At Malvedos the Touriga Franca accounts for 36% of the Quinta so we are now roughly two thirds of the way through the picking.
The photo shows some classic Touriga Franca: large bunches with tightly packed berries. Miles Edlmann’s notes on the variety tell us
Touriga Francesa, or Touriga Franca as it has been officially known since July 2000, is the most widely planted Port grape. To realise its full potential, the fruit demands to be grown in hot and dry conditions, and it is no coincidence that the great Vintages are usually declared in years that favour the ripening of Touriga Francesa. Even then, it is still able to retain a good acidity. It has particularly lifted, exotic floral aromas which add an essential complexity to Port blends, as well as intense red fruit flavours, rockrose, and sometimes blackberries. It may also display some earthy notes on occasions.
This evening we have two lagares on the go, the last lagar of Nacional from Malvedos now mid way through fermentation (another late night I think for some of us!) and the first of Touriga Franca being trodden. Both are showing excellent colour in their respective stages of the winemaking process. Even as today’s harvest of lightly crushed Franca grapes were accumulating in the lagar during the day, the must was showing a deep dark purple without any treading!
Apart from the colour what is so apparent this year is the just how aromatic the musts and final wines are. Fresh and fruity aromas fairly leap out at you whenever you pass a lagar and as Rupert said the other day when he walked in the winery “It certainly smells good”.
Today we had two sets of visitors after lunch. First to arrive was a group from our Dutch agents Gall & Gall accompanied by Euan Mackay and Pedro Leite, who watched as we processed a load of grapes before touring the winery.
A little later Paul Mugnier of Premium Port Wines (PPW), our distributor in the USA, arrived with a group of press, sommeliers, and customers who have been based at the Quinta since Monday whilst touring many of the Symington properties. Along with the usual tour of the lagares, I explained to them the vineyard layout at Malvedos and we did a tasting of some of our 2011 wines while I explained the different characteristics of the principal grape varieties planted at the Quinta.