Once more yesterday to visit Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos and Quinta do Tua, to see how the vineyards are progressing. Alexandre Mariz, our viticulturist for these two quintas, said the weather has been mostly clear and cooler than usual – lower to mid 20s Celcius for the most part, versus the temperatures in the 30s we would expect, though it was 29º yesterday. As you can see in the views below, it was a beautifully clear sunny day, warm but quite breezy.
Our Touriga Franca vine continues to put on leaf, and if you compare to the photo from 1 June, you can clearly see how the vines have grown and their foliage is filling in the space between the middle and upper wire; many of the vines now extend well above. The work of tucking the vines in between the wires is mostly done, though as we walked through the vineyards Alexandre paused to take care of a few exuberant strays.
There has been no significant rainfall at Malvedos and Tua (though we have had a showery few weeks in Gaia), and Alexandre confirmed there are still no sign of oidium or mildew. Also good news is the fact that our vines here, so far, have shown no signs of hydric stress, though we remain concerned that if the temperatures do rise to normal or higher levels in the coming months after the dry winter we could have trouble. Hydric stress is not entirely a bad thing – up to a point – as it concentrates flavours, and our Douro grape varieties are well adapted to handle it. The development of the vines generally is perhaps a little behind normal, given the relatively cool conditions the past few weeks, but nothing to concern us or that couldn’t be caught up over the next couple months.
Over at Quinta do Tua, the view gets greener every fortnight, and the new plantation of Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional continues to thrive. Though irrigation is generally not permitted in the Douro wine growing region, an exception is made for new plantations in their first year. So far, we have not watered the new vines, but we are monitoring them closely and are prepared to do so when needed.
A bonus feature this week: yesterday Alexandre had business up in Vila Flor – viticulture is surprisingly paperwork intensive! – and on the way to Malvedos and Tua we stopped at a point where we could look out over the valley of Vilariça. This is in the far northeast part of the Douro region, where the landscape is much more open and relatively level, though there are some gentle gradients within vineyards (consult this map of the Douro to get your bearings). This photo shows Quinta do Ataide, one of the quintas where we organically farm the grapes for the Symington Family Estates Altano Douro DOC wines. Just left of centre in the photo below is a cluster of trees and buildings (the quinta house, caseiro’s house and offices) and the vineyards extend just a bit to the left and then in front and to the right, bordered by the barren areas top and bottom and a loop of road at the lower right edge of the property.
Very different from the steep hillsides and terraces of Graham’s vineyards!