I’ve just returned to Porto after spending a few days at Malvedos. With fantastic weather, it was a great opportunity to visit all our various winemaking operations, and some of the outlying Quintas which I visit less often. Here are some snaps of the action. Funny how much of it revolves around lunch ! My dog Chili was my faithful companion throughout, suffering windblown boat rides and dusty farm tracks in the back of beaten up landrovers.
Tuesday – I picked Bruno Prats up from the airport in the morning and drove straight to the Douro, visiting the Sol winery and Quinta de Perdiz in the Torto valley. Charles, Pedro and Alexis joined us for lunch.
Charles’s Ridgeback Masai and Chili discuss the 2009 harvest.
Up to Malvedos by boat for dinner.
Wednesday – Bruno and I tasted some newly fortified Barroca ports with Henry at the Malvedos winery in the morning. We then went over to Roriz by boat, calling in on my parents James and Penny at Vila Velha. Brunio and I spent a useful morning touring the Roriz vineyard with Luis Coelho to determine the picking order, and then lunched in the caseiro’s kitchen with the winery team. Paul’s son Rob is now sporting ten days’ worth of beard.
I visited Vila Velha after lunch (to have a look at progress on a home I am trying to build) and then returned with Bruno to Malvedos. Paul came up for dinner and Henry joined us for a magnum of Chryseia 2003.
Thursday – Bruno left early by taxi at 6 am. In the morning Paul and I spent some time in the winery with Henry. Dom and Joao Machete joined us for lunch on their way down from Vesuvio. In the afternoon I went down by boat to Bomfim and visited the winery there, and then went up to pay Miles a visit at Cavadinha. Five out of the six robotic lagares were full at the same time, which is the most I have ever seen. Back to Malvedos in the evening.
Friday – My old friend Iain Richardson of the Mouchao winemaking family in the Alentejo spent the day with me visiting some of our properties in the Douro Superior by boat. Harvest is pretty much over in the Alentejo having started quite early this year.
We passed through the Valeira dam at 10 am, called in briefly at Quinta dos Canais, and then stopped at the dock at Senhora da Ribeira. Ian and Cynthia Symington were at their weekend home and kindly offered us a welcome cold beer on a surprisingly hot day. We visited Ricardo at the Ribeira winery up the hill and tasted some excellent 2009’s from the wooden vats.
After lunch at the Senhora da Ribeira restaurant we crossed the river to Vesuvio. Things were quite quiet, as Charles had decided to postpone picking Monday to allow the Touriga Franca to get a bit riper. After visiting Mario Natario at the winery, we went on by landrover to Vale de Malhadas next door, where Ze Maria the caseiro was supervising the penultimate day of picking at the Pombal vineyard. The Franca grapes were looking really good despite the general dehydration of grapes in this part of the Douro this year. Dona Helena presented me with a sack of onions and another of garlic, probably the only the annual dividend this year from this Quinta which I own along with my cousins Paul and Dom.
Back downriver to Malvedos, passing through the dam at 6. Iain left before dinner, having to check malolactics in the Alentejo the next day. My wife Anne and daughter Polly drove up for dinner, as did Henry’s wife Priscilla and their two boys George and Freddie.
Saturday – Tasted with Henry in the winery in the morning. Anne, Polly and I and Henry’s family went upriver for the day by boat, taking a picnic to Senhora da Ribeira which we shared with Peter Symington and some friends. Back at 6, and the winery team all came up for a drink before dinner.
We were joined for dinner by Dan Carbon and his wife Shannon and children Jack and Bess.
Sunday – A quiet day with the pickers and winery team taking a day off to vote. Quite satisfying to finally get the gate open!