The winter 2003/04 brought normal quantities of rain and some days with frost. A warm spring followed and bud break was in middle of March. Early summer temperatures reached already 30°C, the flowering started in the first week of May under perfect conditions. Flowering is one of the important moments in grape growing, as cold weather or rainfall could reduce and damage the fruit set. A regular flowering leads to regular grapes; the base of high quality. A hot and dry June and July followed, we started the “green harvest” (reduction of yield) in middle of July. So far the climatic conditions were quite normal and we were wondering if we again should see an extremely hot August as last year. We should not! August was unusual cool, cloudy, including some rain showers. The cooler temperature during the important ripening phase slowed down the sugar increase and helped to keep acidity in the grapes. This was welcome as it leads to balanced wines with good colour and structure.
Grape picking started 24th August and ended 10th September. We could pick grapes under best conditions, always at the best maturity. Temperatures were lower than last year, which helped to harvest cool grapes. One little rainfall on 3rd September did not damage the grapes. Sugar contents were lower than last year, fermentation started and ended without problems. Due the good acidity levels we could extend the time of skin contact up to six weeks. The malolactic fermentation started soon after fermentation in the barrels and ended in December.
2004 is the year of the balance and structure. All wines show fantastic colour, solid structure and great balance. The Aragonez shows pure fruit, kirsch, spice, fine tannins and a long lasting finish. The Aragonez wines are elegant and powerful and will be an important backbone for the “Terra”- selection. The Trincadeiras are slowly opening their perfumed fruit, also more elegant than last year. But even in cooler years, we have the legendary Zambujeiro-blockbusters: The Alicante Bouschet – Periquita blend (fermented together) is black, sweet fruit, big and fat structure like a port. This wine is great to blend into others in small doses to give them the necessary structure and sweetness. The Touriga Nacional has it all, endless power and elegance and an almost everlasting finish. The 2004 vintage is certainly a highlight in the short history of Quinta do Zambujeiro.