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As I wrote here, I was in New York a couple of weeks ago for a vertical tasting of Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional with Michael Quinttus.
It was a wonderful day, and the wines showed very well. For me, the most satisfying aspect was to observe the similarities of personality between the great wines of the Sixties and those of more recent years. This is a terroir with a very strong and unique identity and it was a moving experience to be able to taste this across the decades.
You can see on the attached film that the distinguished tasters who turned up that day enjoyed the wines: it was a memorable experience for me, and I am glad that the people who were there shared and appreciated it also.
Here in Bordeaux harvest has just begun. We will speak further about the potential of the reds next week. The subject today is the great “vins liquoreux” of Sauternes and Tokaj. At Château Suduiraut we are waiting for the arrival of the Botrytis, with an excellent quality potential on the vines. The absence of Botrytis so far is actually quite positive in Bordeaux: it means we have been able to take our time with the reds and give them some extra days ripening before beginning the harvest. So I am sure the team at Château Suduiraut will understand if I say that we can still wait a few more days before Botrytis conditions arrive, so that we can bring in what looks like an excellent red wine harvest before beginning in Sauternes.
However, in Tokaj, they have already begun, and have harvested some seriously good aszú berries. László Mészáros, the talented Director of Disznókő, has matters well in hand, and sent me over the attached analysis of the harvest until today, which I hope will give you a picture of how the year has been in Tokaj, and how things are going so far. All the signs are encouraging!
The situation for the vintage 2012 is, at the moment, very similar to that of 2011. There has been:
- an extremely hot and dry summer
- early ripening, but a very slow settling of Botrytis and development of botrytised berries.
Winter was mild but it lasted for a relatively long time. Bud break was late, starting on 23rd April but, because of the hot and dry late spring, blossoming was earlier than usual, at the end of May.
The summer was extremely hot and dry, reaching nearly 40 ˚C several times.
By the end of August the grapes were almost already ripe.
The grapes for dry wines were harvested from the 10th to the 13th of September, earlier than ever. We picked very ripe and healthy grapes, with still remarkably fresh acidity. Most have just completed their fermentation, producing well-balanced and fresh wines with good acidity.
The Botrytis arrived very slowly on the Furmint grapes and resulted in the first aszú grapes being ready to pick by the 11th of September.
These bunches are the result of a particularly fine botrysation along with intense shriveling, or passerillage, of the Furmint grapes.
Oddly, the Zeta vines, always the first to provide remarkable quantity of aszú grapes, have remained healthy till today (beginning of October).
The rains that arrived in mid-September have intensified the development of Botrytis on the Furmint.
The harvesting of aszú grapes is underway. We are collecting aszú berries that are particularly fine and concentrated in the central slopes on the west side.
It is harvest time in the Douro, and we started our first lagares at Quinta do Noval last week. It is looking very good so far.
This weekend however, our lagar was unusually picturesque. Traditionally grape treading was an exclusively masculine activity – to the point that female presence in the lagar room at all was actively discouraged. This has now all changed, at least at Quinta do Noval, where in fact the (usually male) treaders now work under the orders of Senhora Ausenda Matos, our oenologist in charge of the lagares.
But to take things a little further still Corinne Michot, our brand ambassador who spends a lot of time at Quinta do Noval, organized an exclusively female lagar last Saturday. Men were banished from the room this time, but one or two photographs have survived which prove that from an aesthetic point of view there is a lot be said for gender equality in the winery. It remains to be seen whether the resulting Port wine will be characterized by the same seductive female character as the treaders themselves. We will taste the wine blind against Port trodden by males and let you know if there are discernible differences, in which case we may decide to take this experiment further next year.