Quinta de Nápoles
At Quinta de Nápoles, 2014 was a winegrowing year with less quantity but higher quality.
The decrease in production, which represents 20% when compared to the previous year, was not only on account of plant health reasons, but also due to “desavinho” – the natural selection that both physiologically as with certain weather conditions, affects negatively the transformation of flowers into fruits. The whole picture indicated we would have an early year due to the large amount of water accumulated during winter and spring. The maturation phase occurred early and allowed the beginning of the harvest on August 19 with Pinot Noir, followed by Bastardo. On September 7, fell 8mm of water that were beneficial for some ripening in the vineyards located in less fresh places. September, as already forecasted, was the wettest month in 80 years. Thus, at Quinta de Nápoles, we harvested most of the parcels over a period of good weather, between 7 and 21 September.
2014 will undoubtedly be a great year for white wines, with freshness, minerality and an unusual precision. The red wines are very balanced, with great freshness and a clean and fleeting fruit. Despite being early to say so, we believe it is a year of exceptional quality, with wines that will show the cooler character Douro can give.
Vale de Mendiz
The weather during the agricultural year of 2014 will certainly be remembered for its instability, especially in the latter stages and during the Vintage itself. If it had rained at the end of August, followed by a dry September with average temperatures - then some surely fabulous ports would have emerged; however this was not the case, but I believe with the lower yields in 2014 and less potential alcohol, some very fresh and acid driven wines (in the Niepoort style) with good colour have been made at Vale de Mendiz, before the rain started in the middle of the Vintage. Harvest at Vale de Mendiz started early, on 1st September principally with grapes from vineyards in Vale de Mendiz which supply the base of wines for Charme aswell as some superb elegantly structured ports. The first Lagar from the Pisca vineyard was harvested on 12th September with very good colour evident in the Lagar and great finesse after fortification. Ports from the old vineyards at Sibio and Bragão are also impressive and not affected by the rain. The last grapes were harvested on 2nd October, so with a small harvest quite an early finish.
Overall, some superb wines have been made and very much in the Niepoort style and the early start certainly paid off with the majority of the wines not being affected by the rain, it will be interesting to see how the wines close up over the next few months.
Quinta de Baixo
The Winter in Bairrada was rigorous, long and with a fairly high rainfall, as had already happened in 2013. An almost non-existent Spring and a very mild Summer, with temperatures around 30°C, hinder disease control and maturation.
In the vineyard, the control of ripening began in mid-August, as is the tradition, by tasting the berries and checking the health aspect of the grapes.
The white wines harvest began the 28th August in excellent weather conditions. The days were mild and relatively humid. On the 10th September, with the appearance of heavy rainfall, the harvest was interrupted until the 16th, the date when began the picking of the red grapes. Due to the rainfall, the harvest ended up having to be accelerated to prevent the rot got settled. The harvest ended on September 23, in a very difficult year, but with an excellent acidity and alcohol levels between 11.5 and 12.5, which contributes to fine and elegant wines, with an excellent ageing potential.
2014 was the first harvest year of Niepoort in Dão.
The two-hundred year old Quinta da Lomba, situated between two mountain ranges in Gouveia, was acquired by Niepoort earlier this year. With some effort and dedication, the winery was rebuilt and the vineyard was restructured. At the end of the growing season, the grapes were in an excellent status of health and maturation.
Unlike other regions, it didn’t rain a lot in Dão and there were weeks of hot weather with dry nights and sunny mornings, excellent conditions for the start of the harvest, that began with the white wines on 10 September, followed by the harvest of the red wines on 22 September. The harvest was short, held in ideal weather conditions and ended September 27.