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1997 Vintage

One of the great Vintages of the decade, featuring full-bodied and harmonious wines. General declaration.

The last Vintage to have been bottled in the 20th century, the best wines will need to be cellared to 2015-2017.

Some extremely elegant wines were made in 1997. Tannic and balanced wines suitable for long ageing. Classic in style after the very fruity 94s.

Viticultural and Weather Conditions

An unusual viticultural year.  Very cold in January with heavy snowfalls covering the region, even in the river quintas, which is a rare sight. But in early February conditions changed drastically with average temperatures in February and March 4° C above normal, as high as 30° C and no rainfall.  This provoked a budburst some 15 days earlier than usual and rapid development of vines, with flowering taking place nearly a month earlier than in 1996.

In April and May the weather became much cooler and we had heavy rains. These affected flowering and fruit set in some higher vineyards, but ultimately were to stand in very good stead later in the summer.

Although the rains ceased, the cooler temperatures persisted though to mid-August.  Only in the final stages of maturation from mid-August and throughout September did we finally experience high temperatures, sometimes reaching 40° C,  This extremely hot period was accompanied by some very welcome rainfall on the 24th and 27th of August, refreshing the grapes at an opportune moment.

This ideal final ripening period proved decisive to the outstanding quality of the year, and ensured the grapes were in excellent condition and at peak maturity with sugar readings on average an optimum 13 Baumé.

Picking began on 18th September at Vesuvio, on the 22nd at the river quintas in the Cima Corgo, and at Warre's Cavadinha on 29th September.  Harvest took place in dry conditions and although yields were low, it was soon apparent that great wines were being born, due to the intensely fragrant and concentrated musts and the enormous amount of colour visible during fermentation.

Winemaker's Overview

From a winemaking point of view this year was extremely straightforward. The quality of the grapes was good with generally high graduations and little or no rot to be seen. The temperature of the grapes on arrival in the winery was between 18-20° C and therefore little cooling or heating was required in most cases.

This was a year of low yields in the vineyards and it would seem, although it is early to say, that it was also a year of low juice extraction in the presses.

What was particularly striking this year was the amount of colour produced during fermentation.

Charles Symington
4 November 1997



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