Our viticulturist at Quinta dos Malvedos, Alexandre Mariz, sent in this photo of our Touriga Franca vine, taken earlier this week. The late afternoon sunlight through the emerging leaves shows up the fresh green colour. (You can click on the photo to open it full size, then use your browser back button to return to the blog.)
As mentioned in our last post, we have begun the despampa, the thinning of the shoots to leave just the two strongest on each bud. To complete this task across both Quinta dos Malvedos and Quinta do Tua will take us almost two months, as this is an entirely manual process and we have a small team of just 8 to 10 people doing this.
In the past two weeks we have had quite a lot of showers in Vila Nova de Gaia, but both Alexandre and Miles Edlmann, our research viticulturist, confirm very little of that rain has made it over the Marão mountain range and into our quintas.
We have had a number of queries from readers about the weather – many saying something like, “You say one thing, but this xyz weather website says…” Others ask where can they find detailed local Douro weather reports.
Very often we talk about the micro-climatisation of our vineyards. Just this morning Miles was speaking with visitors at another of our quintas and made the argument that every single vine has a unique microclimate. But stepping back slightly from that level, let’s just look at some rainfall averages to give you a starting point to understand the differences across the Douro. Using 15 year average annual rainfall figures at Symington’s own quintas:
- Vila Nova de Gaia, 1300 mm of rain per year
- The Marão (the crest of the mountains), 1500 mm
- Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha, 1065 mm
- Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim, 772 mm
- Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos, 606 mm
- Quinta do Vesuvio, 423 mm
Bomfim is on the river at Pinhão, Cavadinha is only 4 km away as the crow flies and gets on average 38% more rainfall. Paul and Charles co-hosted a tasting last autumn and told the story of Paul being at Bomfim in a raging rainstorm, on the phone to Charles sitting out on the veranda at Malvedos, enjoying the late afternoon sun and a glass of port. Charles was aware of some thunder, but no rain fell on him at Malvedos that evening.
As far as tracking the weather yourself – most weather websites only report on conditions in Vila Real – which is in the Marão, so far wetter than most of the vineyard region. The Portuguese weather authority has a website, the Instituto de Meteorologia, which reports on conditions across the country, though again the only Douro location is Vila Real. Your best bet is to follow us here and on Facebook to keep up with conditions at our quintas year round.