Heavy rain in Douro valley hits 2013 Port harvest

The 2013 Port harvest has been hit by heavy rain in the Douro valley, with 34mm falling on Pinhao last Friday and Saturday, and more expected today (Tuesday) and tomorrow.

The deluge was only the second day of rain since May in what has been a very hot dry summer in Portugal, but while the initial downpours were absorbed by the dry soil, this week’s rain is likely to be taken up by the grapes and lead to their dilution.

Shippers are far from gloomy, however, with Amanda Lloyd, Taylor’s senior business manager, giving this assessment to Harpers: “The Fladgate Partnership has so far been able to complete over half of the harvest in the fine warm conditions that have prevailed. We also had a week’s notice of the impending storm and were therefore able to focus picking on the oldest vines, which tend to produce the most concentrated wines.

“The result has been that some exceptional young Ports have been made with good intensity of flavour and colour. The last year we had such conditions was in 1992, which stood out for its small production of outstanding vintage Ports.”

The same front also hit the southern half of Portugal last Friday, with nearly 50mm rain falling on the Setúbal Peninsula near Lisbon. That brought to an end what Domingos Soares Franco, senior winemaker for leading winery, Jose Maria da Fonseca, described as the hottest growing season there for 80 years. He reported the mercury hit 49°C one day in midsummer. 

“Castelao, Moscatel and Touriga Nacional will dilute although not too much, but the Touriga Francesa is already harvested, fortunately, as that can’t take any water,” he said. “It’s funny but years ending in a three have been difficult  as far back as I can remember, and this one will be no different. But we should still make some outstanding wines.”

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