As we come into the last few days of the 2011 Harvest season in the Douro, Charles Symington, head winemaker, has given us his overview.
Of Graham’s five quintas, Tua and Vila Velha have completed their harvests, Quinta do Vale de Malhadas finished picking today, and Malvedos should finish Tuesday or Wednesday. Quinta das Lages in the Rio Torto, always a bit later than most, should finish picking this Friday or Saturday.
All the flagship quintas for our sister Port brands at Symington Family Estates will finish picking this week, with the high elevation Alvito, Netas and Noemia above Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha in the Pinhão Valley likely to finish last on Friday or Saturday.
Charles said it was unusual for the picking to conclude across all our major quintas in the Cima Corgo and Douro Superior within the same week; typically the Rio Torto and Pinhão Valley quintas finish later than our river quintas by a week or more. The quantity of the harvest overall has been less than originally thought, and so our harvests have generally been quicker than planned by four or five days. We have also been helped by the fantastic weather: the pickers all turned up, and we have lost no days to rain.
Asked if he was happy with the quality across the board, he replied “Absolutely! The Touriga Franca has ripened beautifully, with baumés of 13.5º to 14º, and the wines have fantastic colour. Altogether it’s looking pretty promising.”
Reverting to the size of the vintage, Charles observed that although we started our harvest only 2 to 3 days earlier than usual, we are finishing overall almost 7 to 10 days earlier than normal. He was not expecting that, and takes that as an indication of how small the harvest was overall. This reduction in harvest would also ultimately be a contributing factor to the high quality of the grapes.
What will he do after the harvest is over? “Sleep!”