After a mild winter spring started early but turned into a five week constant heavy rain period until shortly before the flowering of the vines. The wet conditions were favourable for our new plantations. In January we planted 33,000 new vines on 8,6 ha of land. The main part consists of Aragonez (Tempranillo), completed with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Touriga Nacional. The young vines showed a fast growth and our fears concerning drought were unfounded. These vineyards are expected to deliver a first small yield in 2002.
What was a gift for our young vines turned out to be a disaster for the old ones. While flowering during end of May two hailstorms crossed the region affecting very locally the vineyards. Just after flowering hot temperatures and very moist soils caused fast growth which resulted in the abortion of 80% of the grapes in some parts of the Zambujeiro vineyards. The crazy weather conditions really shook our vineyards and we were grateful to see that a hot Alentejo summer ended the wet season!
The harvest started 13th of September and ended 2nd of October. The first week we picked at very hot temperatures and therefore cooled down the grapes over night before selection. The grapes came with perfect health conditions but with some red and green small berries, as a result from difficult flowering. Strict control by hand on special selection tables had to be done to prevent any unripe berries going into the must. Very high sugar levels (highest measuring 17.4% pot. Alcohol) and low acidity needed special attention in the winemaking process. Our new temperature controled fermenters allowed perfect control of the slow fermentation, resulting in some cases residual sugar. The maceration on skins ranges from four to six week, depending on the tannin structure.The malo-lactic fermentation started soon in the heated barrel cellar but advanced very slow.
The year 2000 with its extreme conditions certainly shaped the wines. Young tannins together with sweetness, pure and intense fruit, some wines still fermenting slowly, dense and very mouth-filling, these wines are not yet easy drinking but wild and very intense, already showing a great potential for a long life.