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No vintage wines declared or bottled from the year 1981

1981 Vintage

Not declared.

Viticultural and Weather Conditions

After two weeks of rain in November 1980 no rain fell in the Douro until the very end of February. Spring and early summer were cold and although there was rain, it was the wrong kind of rain: sufficient for surface moisture, but not enough to soak into the ground and build reserves for the vines to withstand a typically hot Douro summer.

So, when summer did arrive in mid-June with one of the hottest heat-waves in memory and the summer continued hot and dry, the development of the vines was severely delayed. A few localised thunderstorms in late August again did little good to the vines. The exceptionally hot weather continued through mid-late September.

The decision was made to commence harvest in Rio Torto as early as 16 September, with other areas starting within the following week. Naturally, that was the cue for heavy rains and gale force winds on the 19th /20th September which knocked out power in Pinhão district for 14 hours. Unsettled weather continued for 10 days, but the storms did break the heat and freshen up the grapes, and clear sunny weather arrived in the last days of the month.

Winemaker's Overview

It would seem that while there is nothing basically wrong with the 1981 wines, they are on the whole lacking in freshness and bouquet … though some of the fermenting cubas [tanks] here at Bomfim did show attractive colour.

Quinta dos Malvedos, which we had sold in 1971 shortly after the acquisition of W&J Graham & Co. into our Group, was re-purchased in mid-summer, and the grapes brought into Bomfim once again for production into Port within our own installations. The house and to some extent the vineyards have suffered neglect during these last 10 years and much remains to be done to bring Malvedos back to its former glory.

Michael D Symington
1 November 1981

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