Following a three-day pause in picking decided by Charles last Thursday, September 22nd, the roga returned to the vineyards on Monday morning to begin harvesting the prized Stone Terraces vineyards at Malvedos. These are the Cardenhos vineyard, with its north/northeast aspect set in a small amphitheatre behind the Quinta house and the ‘Port Arthur’ vineyard, straddling the Síbio stream, close to the point where it joins the Douro. Port Arthur has a westerly and an easterly facing vineyard. The terraces of the latter accompany the contours of the ridge on which the house is built, curving around to a south facing aspect. The various sections of the Stone Terraces vineyards face all four cardinal points giving a mix of characteristics, intensity and richness from the westerly aspects and freshness and aromatics from the easterly and north facing parts of the vineyard.
The roga began picking under cloud cover but fortunately this has since cleared and the weather continues ideal with mainly clear sunny days, maximum temperatures hovering around the upper 20’s degrees Celsius. Night time temperatures have been dipping quite markedly which is ideal as it allows the grapes still on the vines to conserve their natural acidity, which lends greater freshness and balance to the wines.
On arrival at the winery, the bunches undergo the newly introduced two-stage grading and selection system, whereby the bunches are first sorted on the triage conveyor (as in previous vintages) after which they are gravity-fed into the new Bucher-Vaslin Delta-Oscillys de-stemmer. This equipment represents a significant advance at Malvedos because the de-stemming is selective and very effective, leaving unwanted raisined berries attached to the stalks and releasing only the healthy berries. This is achieved through a pendulum swing whose intensity can be adjusted. The released berries are then gently crushed through rollers, which can be adjusted in accordance with the required berry size and weight.
The first Stone Terraces lagar from the Cardenhos vineyard showed very good colour and gave a sugar reading of 13°, not unexpectedly because of its cooler aspect, a little below the graduation of the Port Arthur lagar (east and south facing sections) which recorded a Baumé of 14.05° and an equally encouraging colour.