Harvest 2014: first maturity control
Every year, on the 10th of August, we embark on our very first maturity (ripeness) control in our main vineyard, Quinta Vale d’Agodinho. Located on the very top of a hill with 360 degrees of sun exposure, it’s fascinating for us to see how the grapes evolve in varying light exposure. Under ideal circumstances, the grapes are of equal size in the same bunch. Not only that, we also want the south facing vineyards – where temperatures tend to accelerate the ripening process due to higher temperatures – to mimic the same level of ripeness as the northern vines.
Fortunately, we’ve been lucky this year! The temperatures during the day have hovered around +30ºC, while nights have been cool, with temperatures going below 15ºC and sometimes as far as 12ºC. The cool, brisk evening temperatures allow the vine to maintain higher levels of acidity in the berries which will promote longer aging in bottle.
If you rack your brain back to 2012, you’ll remember our “riveting” conversation about the important of humidity in the soil. When water levels are low, vines shift to survival mode, and essentially, quit helping the grapes. Fortunately, this is not the case this year! The water levels have been good, but could potentially use a few more buckets of water this August.
The only thing that didn’t help, as mentioned in a previous post, were the cold and humid days during fruit set, which reduced the number of fertilized flowers. Here is a table with values for the potential alcohol on August 10th of previous years and the day when we started harvesting:
- 2007 10.49%, September 19th
- 2009 11.86%, September 14th
- 2010 10.05%, September 18th
- 2011 12.07%, September 12th
- 2012 9.13%, September 28th
- 2013 10.9%, September 23rd
- 2014 11,2%, ?
We still have a long way until the harvest – five or six weeks yet – so many things can change. But at least we can report that 2014 is certainly better than 2012 and probably better than 2013. At this point, it’s just a matter of patience; which is difficult when it feels like the day before Christmas!