Budbreak was in the middle of March under dry conditions. Fast growing in April was supported by some good rainfalls, and by middle of May the flowering started without any problems. The warm and sometimes humid June was perfect for the vineyards. By end of June the hot weather started and should turn into probably the hottest summer ever since years. In July and August we noted temperatures as high as 46°C! The work in the fields could only be done from early morning to midday; it was just too hot in the afternoon. Specially some young vines suffered from these conditions and lost a part of the leaves too early.
Grape picking started 25th August and ended 19th September. The total picking time was 15 days. During the whole harvest we had still hot temperatures. Grapes were picked in small crates of 18 kg and stored over night in the cooling chambers. This process allowed us to do the selection of the grapes with the necessary care. The dry and hot summer produced very ripe and healthy grapes but also smaller quantities than normal. We harvested an average yield of 2900 kg per hectare. In the same time we faced the problem of dried berries, which had to be removed in the selection process. This made the selection process very slow but prevented an excess of sugar in the must. Fermentation completed in 10 – 14 days, followed by 2 – 4 weeks skin contact to improve the structure of the wines.
The 2003 vintage is clearly marked by the hot weather. Almost all the wines show very ripe tannins, intense fruit and good concentration. The Periquita has fantastic colour and fruit, the Trincadeiras are only opening little by little their fruit, as usual. The Aragonez is typical, early picking could save some freshness. Our favourite is the Alicante Bouschet, which we fermented with some Trincadeira. This wine is solid as a rock, black colour, big structure and has a fantastic and complex fruit.