Budbreak took place in middle of March in mild spring weather. Two months later in middle of May the flowering passed under good conditions and the fruit set was even and rich. Soon in July we started the thinning of fruit, this work kept us busy until middle of August. Every vine was controlled and grapes thinned out to the desired level. June, July and August were a little cooler than last year and vegetative growth was strong. To ensure good sun exposure intense work on the canopy, like cutting and removing leaves had to be done.
Grape picking started as early as 27th of August. The young Aragonez vineyards on the dry slate soil showed a solid 14% pot. alcohol. For the first time we could harvest a small quantity of Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both showed extremely well with great ripeness at around 15% alcohol. These grapes fermented in new 40-hectolitre vessels of French oak after a one-week cold maceration. Harvest seemed to be at a perfect schedule to pick each vineyard at its best ripeness. But mother nature had other plans: On the 14th of September rainfall started without stopping until beginning of October. Combined with high temperatures bunch rot began to destroy more and more grapes. Strict selection of infected grapes became necessary and finally an estimated 20% could not be picked at all. For the first time we used all the capacity of the cellar. Again, the cooling chamber and the grape selection belts proved to be very important, allowing the careful selection of all the grapes. For the “Zambujeiro” cuvées two more wooden fermenting vessels have been installed. In these tanks a cold maceration of the most was done for one week before fermentation to increase the complexity of fruit. Décuvage was after 5 weeks for the “Zambujeiro” cuvées and 3 to 4 weeks for the “Terra” cuvées.
At the moment some wines are still in the malo-lactic fermentation. First tastings already gave some indications. The Touriga Nacional is showing a black colour and a huge sweetness in the mouth and complex black berry fruit. The wines from the new Aragonez vineyards, first crop, present extremely well: dense in colour with intense pepper like fruit. The Trincadeiras are dense in colour and body, but still closed in the nose, they need usually more time to show their characteristic perfume. Overall, it was again a completely different vintage from the one we had before. The young vineyards on the dry slate produced small and perfect ripe grapes which resulted in a surprisingly dense wine, the old vineyards however, were more difficult to handle and demanded stronger selection.