Sogrape, a huge wine producing company/conglomerate most famous for Mateus Rosé, owns estates in all of Portugal's major wine regions (including Ferreirinha, the label behind Barca Velha), as well as labels in Argentina (Finca Flichman), Chile (Viña Los Boldos) and New Zealand (Framingham). As traditionally colder wine regions rejoice in their current golden age of winemaking, Sogrape's internal report on their 2020 harvest, which I've just received, describes the obviously pernicious effects that global warming is increasingly having on the wine growing regions from more southern latitudes.
According to this report, conditions applicable to the whole of Portugal included an extremely hot and dry winter (despite intense rain and storms in December), a drought throughout February in the regions south of the Tejo - which was somewhat reversed by on and off rain in March and April, increasing the likelihood of diseases in the vines - and above average temperatures in the following May. A constant back and forth between hot, dry days and rainfall caused a series of health issues in the plants. July was the hottest on record, ever, anticipating the grapes' maturation cycle. Above average temperatures in September made 2020 the year with the hottest Jan-Sep period since 1930. Sun burn and dehydration in grapes were commonplace. The absence of a signficant number of commercial flights, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, made metereological forecast more difficult and uncertain.
Production fell by 3% nationwide when compared with 2019, with that percentage increasing to 20-30% in the Douro and Dão (numbers for the whole country, not limited to Sogrape owned estates). Harvest in the Douro began on August 5th for Sogrape. The vintage was marginally less difficult for estates in the left bank of the Douro (which are not south facing to the same extent), but problems with both sunburn and disease made viticultural work intensive and meticulous.
In Herdade do Peso, down in the Alentejo, oenologist Luís Cabral de Almeida admits grapes did not reach proper phenolic maturity, owing to the absence of the cooler nights typical of Vidigueira throughout July and August. Harvest began in early August, as in the Douro, and ended on September 17th - the earliest ever on record. Harvesting was done at night, with artificial refrigeration playing a crucial role in cooling down the grapes. Luís describes quality as 'average' and some of the whites as 'cute', which I can only interpret as a thinly veiled way of describing the whites as potentially rather tropical. In his attempt to lavish praise upon the red grapes, he is limited to specific parcels.
At Quinta dos Carvalhais, in the Dão, harvest for white and red grapes began simultaneously (a first). Oenologists Beatriz Cabral de Almeida and António Braga (responsible for Quinta de Azevedo in the Vinhos Verdes) describe the whites as having 'great acidity despite the hot weather', which sadly I imagine is some sort of attempt to sell a bridge in Brooklyn. I'm hoping they all make me eat my words.
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Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
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