The year started with an extremely dry winter- the driest ever since 100 years and vine growers and farmers in the Alentejo were concerned about the coming growing season. Winter rainfalls normally refill the groundwater-reserves from which the plants are supplied with water during summer. The winter was cold, temperatures dropped several times below zero. Bud break was a bit later than usual but then an almost perfect growing season started. A strict yield reduction started as early as middle of June, in order to prevent water stress for the vines and of course to increase quality of the grapes. Weather remained dry but not too hot. Our unirrigated vines did only slightly suffer lack of water, just in the stoniest corners. Exactly what we wanted for quality! Due to the small crop and the dry conditions, the growing season was shorter than usual.
Grape picking was finished after 10 days on 31st of August! A record. The quality was extremely nice: Very homogeneous grapes, small berries, dark colours. In fact, the winemaking did not cause problems and all wines could be extracted long on skins before they got pressed. We filled the young wines right after pressing into the barrels for the malolactic fermentation. This is more complicated to handle (control) but makes the oak-taste better integrated.
The perfect grapes could not fail to make great wines. After a few months we can taste the potential of this big year. At the moment it seems to be somewhere in-between the 2003 and 2004, the structure of the 2004 and the sweet mouth feel of the 2003. Fruit is dark, intense and pure, all wines show very nice length and depth. As always in this stage, we are impatient to see how this wine will be in two years!