Vintage 2020

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uncle tom
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Vintage 2020

Post by uncle tom » 10:40 Mon 31 Aug 2020

Well, here comes another vintage - what are the portents?

The only reportage I've had from the front line indicated an expectation of an early harvest - more detail would be welcome.

The weather so far this year looks reasonably benign - adequate winter rain, but very little since mid May, barring a day of heavy downpours mid August. Temperatures however have been rather modest. There was a burst of heat mid July, but both June and August have been unusually cool. The mercury is expected to soar over the next few days however.

The longer range forecast suggests the next three weeks should be fine, but with a risk of the weather breaking up toward the end of September.

So, perhaps a bit cool for a classic vintage, but the conditions look right for a big harvest. I do hope the current restrictions don't create a manpower crisis..
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by Andy Velebil » 02:48 Tue 01 Sep 2020

There was a rain early during flowering that did a number on flowering for some grape varietals, Tinta Roriz seemed to suffer the worst.

Given Covid and a lack of people visiting and reporting it’s hard to get a feel how things are progressing.

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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by AHB » 15:55 Tue 01 Sep 2020

FaceBook and Instagram give plenty of evidence that the white grape harvest has been under way for a week or two and that red grape picking began this weekend. Whether the red grapes are destined for wine or Port wasn't clear.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by JacobH » 09:47 Wed 02 Sep 2020

The August rain is generally thought to be a good thing, is it not, for fleshing out the grapes just before harvest?
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by AHB » 12:52 Wed 02 Sep 2020

I read this morning that one producer - Mourão, I think it was - has said that they believe the grapes to be as good as they were in the well perceived 2019 harvest.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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uncle tom
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by uncle tom » 13:38 Wed 02 Sep 2020

in the well perceived 2019 harvest
I've been told that weather fluctuations 'confused' the vines last year, and that things went a bit haywire in the final days before harvest.

- Maybe some producers were more fortunate than others..
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I shall be sober and you will still be ugly - W.S. Churchill

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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by JacobH » 11:56 Mon 07 Sep 2020

Symington Family Estates on Twitter wrote:It has been very hot since the rain on 17th August. The grapes are in decent condition but yields are going to be on the low side this year due to the high temps.
I suppose that that might not be the worst thing to happen considering the logistical issues with picking / treading in the pandemic.
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by uncle tom » 12:27 Mon 07 Sep 2020

The nearest weather data available online that I can find comes from Vila Real, which is always a few degrees cooler than the Douro valley as it's quite high up, but it nevertheless gives an indication of what's going on - usually!

But there's no suggestion of above average temperatures in the second half of August, indeed quite the reverse - strange..

https://www.accuweather.com/en/pt/vila- ... &view=list
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by JacobH » 11:52 Mon 14 Sep 2020

A few more temperature charts from the (presumably private) weather station at Quinta do Bomfin. July: hot; August: a bit of a mixture, with some hot patches and the rest average; September: hot, again.
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by JacobH » 17:30 Tue 13 Oct 2020

Charles Symington has put out a rather nice Harvest Report including temperature charts from Quinta do Bomfim which I am sure will appeal to Tom.

He mentions, unsurprisingly in light of the heat, low yields but high concentration and makes a comparison with 2009. It doesn’t sound like a classic general declaration year to me, but I would have thought that some good low volume Vintage Ports will be produced.
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by uncle tom » 20:52 Tue 13 Oct 2020

and makes a comparison with 2009
Which was a missed opportunity by the Symingtons. They made a Warre special for historical reasons, and the TFP declared all their houses; but after tasting a superb cask sample from Malvedos, I was amazed they didn't declare Graham.
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by Axel P » 17:47 Thu 15 Oct 2020

JacobH wrote:
17:30 Tue 13 Oct 2020
Charles Symington has put out a rather nice Harvest Report including temperature charts from Quinta do Bomfim which I am sure will appeal to Tom.
This is fantastic. Thank you, dear Charles. It much helps to understand the Vintage better and will certainly give tons of arguments of foot treading of Vesuvio Ports for the next centuries to come...
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by Glenn E. » 18:29 Thu 15 Oct 2020

uncle tom wrote:
20:52 Tue 13 Oct 2020
and makes a comparison with 2009
Which was a missed opportunity by the Symingtons. They made a Warre special for historical reasons, and the TFP declared all their houses; but after tasting a superb cask sample from Malvedos, I was amazed they didn't declare Graham.
I tasted a 2014 Graham's The Stone Terraces at the Quinta in 2014 that I thought was pretty amazing, but which they obviously didn't declare. Which tells me that we don't have the skills to judge exceedingly young wine.

Given what I've tasted of 1991 and 1992, I think that both made the correct decisions for their companies.

Ergo, I suspect that the Symingtons were correct to not declare 2009. They knew TFP was declaring and still didn't declare, so they really must have felt that their wines just weren't up to the level required for a full declaration.

The real question is 2015. Everything I've heard about that non-declaration is... strange at best.
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by Axel P » 07:56 Fri 16 Oct 2020

Glenn E. wrote:
18:29 Thu 15 Oct 2020
The real question is 2015. Everything I've heard about that non-declaration is... strange at best.
For 2015 I only think one needs to get rid of the "english hat" and the answer is easy: it was a general declaration. For those from the US it must be easy to do this.

I have tasted pretty much all of the 2015s, 2016s and 2017s as many others did and I challenge those who tell me they like the overall quality in 2016 better than from 2015. By pure numbers every possible definition of a general declaration must have been satisfied. The only think that stands in the way is the confraria, which somehow seems to wear an english hat.

Btw who is to say that it was or wasnt? Everybody just presumes....
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uncle tom
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by uncle tom » 08:19 Fri 16 Oct 2020

Given what I've tasted of 1991 and 1992, I think that both made the correct decisions for their companies.
I have heard a senior member of the Symington clan publicly admit, with great candour, that with hindsight they should have declared '92 instead.
Ergo, I suspect that the Symingtons were correct to not declare 2009. They knew TFP was declaring and still didn't declare, so they really must have felt that their wines just weren't up to the level required for a full declaration.
I was present when Dom Symington learned that Taylor were declaring '09, at which time the Symingtons had already announced that they were only going to declare Warre.

- His reaction was memorable..
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by JacobH » 16:04 Fri 16 Oct 2020

Glenn E. wrote:
18:29 Thu 15 Oct 2020
I tasted a 2014 Graham's The Stone Terraces at the Quinta in 2014 that I thought was pretty amazing, but which they obviously didn't declare. Which tells me that we don't have the skills to judge exceedingly young wine.
I think the shippers have been getting it “wrong” as to whether to declare or not for as long as they have been producing Vintage Port! It would certainly be a less interesting subject if they always got it “right”. And, even more, if everyone put out a VP each year [**shudders**].

More seriously, presumably there is always a balancing act behind declaring between the quality and practicalities. I say this because harvests where it is almost impossible to produce any VP are pretty rare. So, for example, was the blend of 2014 Stone Terraces you tasted capable of being produced in sufficient quantity? Was it necessary to use it for some other purpose? etc. etc.
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by Glenn E. » 22:46 Fri 16 Oct 2020

Axel P wrote:
07:56 Fri 16 Oct 2020
Glenn E. wrote:
18:29 Thu 15 Oct 2020
The real question is 2015. Everything I've heard about that non-declaration is... strange at best.
For 2015 I only think one needs to get rid of the "english hat" and the answer is easy: it was a general declaration. For those from the US it must be easy to do this.

I have tasted pretty much all of the 2015s, 2016s and 2017s as many others did and I challenge those who tell me they like the overall quality in 2016 better than from 2015. By pure numbers every possible definition of a general declaration must have been satisfied. The only think that stands in the way is the confraria, which somehow seems to wear an english hat.

Btw who is to say that it was or wasnt? Everybody just presumes....
Oh, I agree. When I said it was strange, I meant the series of events leading up to neither TFP nor SFE declaring.

Of the wines that I have tasted, which includes Graham's Stone Terraces from all 3 vintages, I like 2015 better than 2016. (And 2017 better than both of them.) If they wanted to maintain tradition, they should have declared 2015 and skipped 2016.
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by Glenn E. » 22:56 Fri 16 Oct 2020

uncle tom wrote:
08:19 Fri 16 Oct 2020
Given what I've tasted of 1991 and 1992, I think that both made the correct decisions for their companies.
I have heard a senior member of the Symington clan publicly admit, with great candour, that with hindsight they should have declared '92 instead.
Why? Their 1991s are better than their 1992s. And TFP 1992s are better than their 1991s.

In my experience TFP won the split - their full declaration and SQ declarations are both better than the respective SFE Ports - but the Symingtons were still correct to declare 1991. They made better Ports in 1991 than they did in 1992 with the exception of Vesuvio.
Ergo, I suspect that the Symingtons were correct to not declare 2009. They knew TFP was declaring and still didn't declare, so they really must have felt that their wines just weren't up to the level required for a full declaration.
I was present when Dom Symington learned that Taylor were declaring '09, at which time the Symingtons had already announced that they were only going to declare Warre.

- His reaction was memorable..
TFP declares before SFE and has as far back as I can remember. That changed in 2017 and the reversal was a big deal. Until the actual declaration goes out they're just talking and things can change... see 2015 for proof.

The Symingtons knew that TFP was going to declare 2009 before the declarations went out, with plenty of time to change their minds, and yet they still didn't declare.
Glenn Elliott

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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by Glenn E. » 22:59 Fri 16 Oct 2020

JacobH wrote:
16:04 Fri 16 Oct 2020
Glenn E. wrote:
18:29 Thu 15 Oct 2020
I tasted a 2014 Graham's The Stone Terraces at the Quinta in 2014 that I thought was pretty amazing, but which they obviously didn't declare. Which tells me that we don't have the skills to judge exceedingly young wine.
I think the shippers have been getting it “wrong” as to whether to declare or not for as long as they have been producing Vintage Port! It would certainly be a less interesting subject if they always got it “right”. And, even more, if everyone put out a VP each year [**shudders**].

More seriously, presumably there is always a balancing act behind declaring between the quality and practicalities. I say this because harvests where it is almost impossible to produce any VP are pretty rare. So, for example, was the blend of 2014 Stone Terraces you tasted capable of being produced in sufficient quantity? Was it necessary to use it for some other purpose? etc. etc.
I'm willing to believe that they got it right, and that for some reason - whatever that reason may be - it didn't make sense to declare 2014 Stone Terraces. It could have been for any of the reasons you mention, or it could have been that I'm just rubbish at tasting week-old Vintage Port and it wasn't nearly as amazing as I thought it was. But I was pretty bummed when it wasn't released!
Glenn Elliott

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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by Axel P » 10:10 Sat 17 Oct 2020

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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by M.Charlton » 10:39 Sat 17 Oct 2020

Axel P wrote:
10:10 Sat 17 Oct 2020
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FDa ... k5V10NBuAM

Dont miss it
Thanks, Axel!

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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by uncle tom » 10:52 Sat 17 Oct 2020

Why? Their 1991s are better than their 1992s. And TFP 1992s are better than their 1991s.

In my experience TFP won the split - their full declaration and SQ declarations are both better than the respective SFE Ports - but the Symingtons were still correct to declare 1991. They made better Ports in 1991 than they did in 1992 with the exception of Vesuvio.
The SQs made by the Symingtons in '92 were made in far greater quantity to meet the supermarket demand - there was far less selection of the juice..
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by JacobH » 12:52 Sun 18 Oct 2020

David Guimaraens has also records a short YouTube Video about the 2020 Harvest.

Much of the report mirrors what we have been discussing in this thread: a very hot year with the hottest July on record. The heat in the early Summer damaged some of the Tinta Barroca and the late August heat caught some of the Touriga Francesa. The Tinta Cão coped well, however.

Interestingly, he discusses the vinification a bit more than Charles Symington. The heat produced grapes with a very high level of sugar. This permitted longer fermentation than usual and potentially compensated for the lack of the foot treading this year. The longer fermentation permitting greater extraction that would normally be obtainable by mechanical pressing. Unsurprisingly, he says that all of these factors resulted in wines with good structure and colour but, luckily, few overripe elements.

I get the impression, and it is only the impression, that he is somewhat less bullish about this harvest than Charles Symington. For example, his final comment is that he is very happy with some Ports but “inevitably there are some Ports [that] have less of a balance”. That doesn’t sound to me like it bodes well for large amounts of VP...
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Re: Vintage 2020

Post by Andy Velebil » 15:37 Sun 18 Oct 2020

JacobH wrote:David Guimaraens has also records a short YouTube Video about the 2020 Harvest.

Much of the report mirrors what we have been discussing in this thread: a very hot year with the hottest July on record. The heat in the early Summer damaged some of the Tinta Barroca and the late August heat caught some of the Touriga Francesa. The Tinta Cão coped well, however.

Interestingly, he discusses the vinification a bit more than Charles Symington. The heat produced grapes with a very high level of sugar. This permitted longer fermentation than usual and potentially compensated for the lack of the foot treading this year. The longer fermentation permitting greater extraction that would normally be obtainable by mechanical pressing. Unsurprisingly, he says that all of these factors resulted in wines with good structure and colour but, luckily, few overripe elements.

I get the impression, and it is only the impression, that he is somewhat less bullish about this harvest than Charles Symington. For example, his final comment is that he is very happy with some Ports but “inevitably there are some Ports [that] have less of a balance”. That doesn’t sound to me like it bodes well for large amounts of VP...
The general gist I’ve been told by various folks around the Douro is vines higher in elevation did much better due to cooler evenings/mornings. Those lower got rather baked by the heat. While some good lots have been made, generally speaking, a good year to bolster the stocks as they say.

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