Over the last couple of weeks, harvest conditions could not have been better. Dry, sunny days have been followed by cool nights meaning that the late ripening Touriga Franca, one of the most important varieties for Port, has benefited from balanced maturations: good sugar graduations matched by very good phenolic development. With its late ripening cycle, the Touriga Franca is often the most vulnerable of the Douro’s varieties exposed as it can sometimes be to the unsettled weather which normally sets in towards the end of a Douro vintage. This was very much the case during the 2013 and 2014 harvests. The risk factor was even higher this year due to the late starting vintage. Last year, the very last grapes harvested came into the Malvedos winery on September 30th whereas this year the Touriga Franca began to be picked at Malvedos only from October 3rd.
From the very first Touriga Franca lagares filled this vintage, Henry enthused over the marvellous colour of the musts. One lagar recorded the deepest colour possible on our measuring spectrum: KA1. As picking progressed during the week and as the grapes from some of the more mature Touriga Franca vineyards at Malvedos arrived in the winery — some of them 1986 plantings — the sugar readings inched their way upwards from 13.2° Baumé to 14.02°. But as Charles has pointed out on several occasions during the vintage what has been particularly encouraging this year are the very balanced maturations evident in the all-important Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca varieties.
One-third of the Malvedos vineyard is planted with Touriga Franca, a variety well suited to the property’s predominantly south-facing aspect, requiring as it does abundant sunshine to fully realize its ripening potential. The Touriga Franca, together with the Touriga Nacional contribute the principal components to most of Graham’s Vintage Ports and Malvedos Quinta Vintage Ports and when the two varieties show so well we know we have the makings of a successful harvest. Between them, the Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional make up 60% of the Malvedos vineyard. In recent years, sizeable plantings of Sousão and Alicante Bouschet have been made at the Quinta reflecting Charles’s belief in the important contributions they can make, alongside others such as the Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca and the Tinta Roriz.