The legendary consistent quality of Graham’s ports starts in the vineyards, and our viticultural team do a tremendous job nurturing our vines year round to ensure the best possible grapes come into our wineries during harvest. We have to work with nature and the climate – floods, droughts, pests, lightning strikes, mid-summer hail, you name it, the Douro has thrown it at us at some point in the past almost 200 years – but it is a testament to the skill and tenacity of our viticulturists that every year our winemakers are able to make good wines. Not always declared vintage ports, not always in the quantity we could wish, but always wines of a quality to cellar in Gaia and ultimately blend into one of Graham’s port styles.
For this reason, in addition to our ongoing coverage of viticultural activity in the blog and the Douro Insider reports, we thought we would track the progress of the season in another way this year: by regularly monitoring the progress of a single vine, and also the view across one of our key quintas.
At Quinta dos Malvedos 36% of the vineyards are planted with Touriga Franca (previously known as Touriga Francesa), which contributes wonderful complexity of aroma and flavour to Graham’s wines. Miles Edlmann, our research viticulturist, explains that Touriga Franca requires lots of sun and good exposure to ripen fully, and its berries have quite thick skins which help it survive dry seasons better than some other varieties. It retains its acidity well even in such conditions, and will bring lifted, exotic floral aromas and flavours of intense red fruit, rockrose and sometimes blackberries to our wines.
So quite naturally, we chose a Touriga Franca vine to monitor. This one is located in a parcel near the entrance to the quinta, but set far enough away from the roadway and water line that its development should be fairly characteristic of the parcel overall. These vines are mature, just over 25 years old, so produce high quality grapes and typically aromatic, complex wines. During harvest we posted a short video panorama of our Touriga Franca plots, and you can see this vineyard in the opening sequence.
Finally, with all the work at Quinta do Tua this past autumn and winter with the re-sculpting and re-planting of 5 hectares of vineyards, we will monitor the view looking upriver, east across those plantations as well as adjacent older vineyards. You can also see earlier photos of this view in our article about the Vineyard Works at Quinta do Tua.
We hope you will watch with us the progress of the season at Malvedos and Tua.