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2004 Vintage

Not generally declared, but some wonderful single quinta vintages bottled.

Viticultural and Weather Conditions

October and November 2003 were very wet, but the balance of the winter and spring of 2003/2004 were very dry, with less than half the ten year average rainfall. Whilst bud burst and shoot growth were good, given warm dry, sunny conditions, the fruit set was lower than normal in May.

The vines were in excellent condition going into August, but we were concerned that the normally hot dry month would stress the vines. In the event, we received an extraordinary 77 mm of rain in August, versus an average of only 15mm over the prior 25 years. This was accompanied by relatively low temperatures, and ripening slowed dramatically.

Though we were concerned about the risk of rot if the rain were to continue, the grapes were just not ripe enough to make good Port, so we gambled and waited out the unsettled weather in early September. It paid off: we enjoyed 25 days of perfect harvest weather, with sunshine and temperatures around 30° C every day. When the weather finally broke on 9th October, all our grapes were safely in our wineries.

Vinification

Yields were lower than average due to the very dry winter, but the colour of the musts in the lagares and the fermentation tanks was excellent. Cooling equipment was essential as our grapes were coming into our wineries on some afternoons at 24ºC and the fermentations would have been much too fast and too hot if we did not have equipment with which to cool the must. The grapes were in very good condition; Baumés were above average at about 13º.

Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional gave lower than average yields but gave fine concentrated musts. The Roriz and Barroca performed particularly well, the latter giving good yields as it was picked first, while the other varieties became more concentrated during the warm September weather.

Winemaker's Overview

With the 2004 Vintage Ports, we adopted a highly selective policy in the tasting room and chose only the best of the best. As a result we are bottling very small quantities of outstanding wines.

The 2004 Vintage Ports show intense deep purple-red colour, a factor that was strongly influenced by the August rains that softened the skins and allowed for better colour extraction. The nose is lifted and fresh, again thanks to the cooler August weather. The taste is rich, firm and with good acidity and fine peppery tannins.

These wines are most attractive and will age extremely well.

Paul Symington
18 April 2006



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