Today is the last day of summer although I have to say it did not feel like it at all. The morning was cool and it then turned into yet another hot day of perfect harvesting weather.
Arlindo had 23 pickers today but despite their best efforts they picked much less (about half) than when working on the other varieties, due to the small low yielding bunches of the Nacional. Yesterday some of the lower lying blocks were picked and today they moved to the top of the Quinta (307 metres) to a couple parcels planted in 1989. I was there with Mariz this afternoon tasting the grapes and they are perfect to be picked now.
The Touriga Nacional is coming in with incredibly low yields this year. I had a look at the yields from 2 blocks picked yesterday and they gave 280g and 420g per vine respectively. This is easily visible in the lagares as they fill, for example one lagar that was approximately half full by weight with 6000Kg, was well below half in terms of the depth filled. This serves to highlight the very high skin to juice ratio in the Nacional this year and will certainly be translated into greater concentration, colour and flavours in the final wines produced.
Lisa is very hands on and will take on any job at the winery. The pressed out remains of the cap, known as vinhaço, can be distilled to make aguardente, so as we run the press, the team works hard to shift the vinhaço into 35 kg bags, which Lisa and Juca stacked up outside the winery on the lower level. Every week or so someone stops at the winery to pick up the bags for the distiller.
We had a steady stream of visitors, starting in the morning with another group of German customers from our distributor Smart Wines accompanied by Gonçalo Brito who, with Dominic, is responsible for the German market for Graham’s. I showed them round the winery and then gave them a taste of one of the newly made Barroca wines which are now in the tonels in the lower part of the winery.
Our harvest time “Mr Fix It” in terms of machinery, David, was passing on his way to Pinhão and dropped by to see if we needed anything. I took the opportunity to discuss with him our temperature control system which is so critical during this warm weather.
Finally, just before dinner, Charles stopped by and after our review of the picking order came and had a taste of the wines made from the first four lagares of the harvest, all Barroca. I am pleased to say he thought all four were very promising in terms of aroma, flavour and colour.