Quinta dos Malvedos Harvest Update – October 1st

A group of guests from our German distributor, 'Smart Wines', visited Malvedos on Tuesday afternoon. Here, in front of the winery, built in 1890.
A group of guests from our German distributor, ‘Smart Wines’, visited Malvedos on Tuesday afternoon, photographed in front of the winery, built in 1890. On the left our market manager for Germany, Gonçalo Brito and on the far right, Henry Shotton, Malvedos winemaker (and to his right: Dominic Symington).

Since the last report, posted late Friday evening, the common denominator of the last three days has been overcast skies and rain; 25.7mm at Malvedos from Friday through to Monday — that’s more precipitation in 4 days than was recorded for the months of June, July and August combined.

Henry Shotton’s day-by-day account:

Saturday, September 28th

Most of the rainfall referred to above began to come down during dinner time on Friday the 27th and continued into the night of the 28th.  The morning started with some scattered showers interspersed with bright patches up until lunchtime. Similar pattern during the afternoon — a few showers with bright sunny intervals. A plentiful 20.7 mm of rain came down between 9am Friday and 9am Saturday.

The weather has played a few tricks with us over the last few days; alternately overcast, rainy, bright spells, rain showers on and off. Here the road descending towards the Douro River near Malvedos and Tua.
The weather has played a few tricks on us over the last few days, alternating between overcast skies and bright spells, with quite a few rain showers on and off. This landscape illustrates those conditions (route descending towards Malvedos and Tua).

Today the pickers have gone back to Quinta do Tua to pick the Sousão. Should the yields prove too low to fill a lagar then it will be topped up with Touriga Nacional, also from Tua. Fewer pickers showed up today – 20 people in total as opposed to the normal 24-25, most likely put off by the abundant rain during the night. Tomorrow, Sunday, there are local government elections and we fear that some of the pickers won’t turn up and that we will therefore pick less and not be able to fill a lagar.

Sunday, September 29th

Walked towards the winery at 07:30 under cover of dark grey clouds, which in the event discharged a paltry 1.8mm during the whole day.

Predictably, only 11 people showed up this morning for picking because many of the team understandably decided to exercise their right to vote in the local government elections. The bottom line is we’ll pick less grapes today. Tomorrow the roga will move to Quinta do Síbio, the adjoining property, which was acquired last year and incorporated into Malvedos. Síbio is planted with ‘MC’ — Mistura de Castas (mixed varieties) — all planted in 1990, hence now a mature vineyard with 23 years. By the looks of things yields will be low.

The first tractor load of grapes arrive at the winery from Quinta do Síbio.
Juca and Carlos unload the first grapes arriving at the winery from Quinta do Síbio.

The lagar from Tua trodden last night (55% Touriga Nacional & 45% Sousão) gave an excellent 13.55º Baumé and displayed a deep purple colour. Today we are plunging the cap (immersing the skins of the grapes back into the must) of the now fermenting lagar of Sousão and Touriga Nacional grapes. This co-fermented lagar is showing a superb deep colour. 

Monday, September 30th

Malvedos, from the grape reception area, looking east towards Tua (background left).
Malvedos, from the grape reception area, looking east towards Tua (background left).

A distinctly warmer feel this morning, although still overcast. At least there was no need to wear a sweater. Today, Sr. Arlindo and his roga will be harvesting grapes exclusively from the Síbio blocks (mixed varieties). This evening we started treading the first lagar from Síbio, and despite the rain, the graduations were excellent at 14.25º Baumé.

Tuesday, October 1st

Another start to the day with low-lying, rain-laden clouds, which released showers on and off during the morning and afternoon. However, we have received very good news from Charles Symington who has been closely monitoring the weather and the forecast for the next few days is for an end to the rain and the return of clear blue skies. Fingers crossed! The roga is continuing to pick the Síbio grapes all day today.

The Spirit of Chartwell cruises along the Douro, just below Malvedos, Tuesday, October 1st.
The Spirit of Chartwell cruises along the Douro, just below Malvedos, Tuesday, October 1st.

Our daily routine was briefly interrupted at about noon as the ‘Spirit of Chartwell’ quietly cruised by downriver, probably on its way to Porto. Readers will remember that this was the royal barge that carried the Queen and other members of the Royal Family during the Royal Pageant on the Thames, one of the high points of last year’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. Spirit of Chartwell was acquired by a Portuguese river cruise operator and and it has now become a familiar sight, plying the waters of the Douro.

The Spirit of Chartwell, previously of the Thames, now a familiar sight along the Douro River.
The Spirit of Chartwell, previously of the Thames, now a familiar sight along the Douro River.

Dominic Symington and Gonçalo Brito (who helps Dominic in the German market, among others) arrived by boat with a party of 7 guests from our German distributor for Graham’s: “Smart Wine”, which is based in Cologne. Following lunch at the house, the group visited the winery.

Tonight we will start treading our second lagar made up entirely of mixed grapes harvested from Síbio.

A visual representation of the Douro weather of the last few days; damp and wet.
A visual representation of the Douro weather of the last few days: damp and wet.
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