The season started with an extremely dry winter, only about 100 litres of rain fell in the time between October and March. This made us concerned about limited water supplies for the vineyards. Our vineyards have access to groundwater and can survive even in a very hot summer. But with ground water reserves lower than usual we were unsure about how the vines will cope with heat. To our surprise, vines managed to resist the dry and hot weather better than expected. The vegetative growth was clearly less than in previous years. For example, topping of the canopy (cutting the excess leafs), was only necessary once, where in other years two or three rounds were needed.
Spring and early summer was cool and sometimes wet. This caused an important delay in flowering of up to 3 weeks. July 10th , while starting the yield reduction, there was not a single berry with a sign of “pintor”, changing of the colour. This is very unusual late compared to an average year. A late harvest had to be expected.
Two heat waves with temperatures up to 40°C in July and August did speed up the maturity in the earliest grape, the Aragonez. A light rainfall on August 15th lowered sugars only for a short moment. Two tanks could be harvested at 14.5% in the week of August 23rd. The main harvest could be started on September 3rd, about 10 days later than normal and finished 21st. September.
2012 is certainly one of the years with a very regular grape quality. Most of the vineyards delivered small and healthy clusters, except some Trincadeira blocks which surprised with some giant grape clusters. Most grapes could be harvested at a good phenolic maturity.
The main issue in selection was sorting out dry berries, which we had in some lots of Alicante Bouschet and the Touriga Nacional. But far less as for example 2011 or 2003. Dry berries are always a cause of concern to the winemakers. These dehydrated berries can release sugar uncontrolled and at unwanted moments (end of fermentation, pressing), and cause a damage to the wines.
Young wines showed beautiful with generous fruit and sweet extract. They seem to be softer in structure than in previous years.