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2006 Vintage

Not generally declared, but some excellent single quinta wines made.

Viticultural and Weather Conditions

Good winter rains between December 2005 and April 2006, very welcome after the drought of 2004/5. Spring weather was generally good for budburst and fruit set, though strong winds disrupted fruit set in the higher vineyards. May was the hottest on record for 40 years, and June continued hot, till a freak hailstorm hit the Douro:

June got hotter until a very severe hailstorm hit some vineyards in the premium areas of the Pinhão and the Rio Torto valleys on the night of the 14th. In about 20 minutes of intense hail, several vineyards lost up to 30% or more of their crop. The vine leaves looked as if they had been blasted by shotgun pellets from a distance of a few yards. Many young and as yet green bunches of grapes were partially shredded. Fortunately the Douro is made up of many sharply contoured hills and valleys, consequently numerous vineyards were shielded from this onslaught and the storm only affected the above-mentioned areas, the rest of the Douro simply benefited from some timely rain. (Paul and Charles Symington, 16 October 2006)

July was also unpleasantly hot, the lowest maximum temperature recorded at Vesuvio all month was 37°. August began cooler and delivered some welcome rain mid-month, but unfortunately turned up the heat again after that, which held into September.

Charles set the picking dates at our easternmost vineyards, including Quinta do Vesuvio, for the 11th September. Graham’s Malvedos started on the 14th, at Warre’s Bom Retiro (in the Rio Torto) harvesting started on the 18th, at Bomfim on the 21st and at Cavadinha on the 25th September. Due to Atlantic hurricanes, we had some unsettled weather during the harvest, but what rainfall occurred was followed, most fortunately, by winds which came through the valley and dried the ripe bunches, so no real harm was done.

Vinification

Baumés were good at between 12° and 13.5° and the grapes were generally in good condition although there was some raisining, a result of the hot summer weather. After the first very hot week cooling was not needed in the lagares at most of our wineries as the grapes were arriving at an ideal 20° to 21°C.

Winemaker's Overview

The Barroca, Touriga Naçional and Roriz all gave good colour and aromas in the fermenting tanks.

While the last fermentations are ending at the time of writing, it is clear that there are some very fine tanks and casks of Port and Douro DOC wines from the 2006 harvest amongst the total wine made this year. Overall it can be said that the average quality of wine made is reasonably good throughout the valley.

Paul and Charles Symington
16 October 2006



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