Harvest Reports

Niepoort has two locations for Harvest. Quinta de Nápoles where we produced the still wines and Vale de mendiz where we produce the portwines. Having two distinct vinification centers is very important to garantee the best wines for port and for the still wines.

2010

The 2010 harvest will surely be remembered as quite strange, because of the atypical weather conditions during all year, with a very rainy winter and totally dry and hot summer. The verasion was delayed, in some cases, for more than 2 weeks, but very hot days in August and September accelerated the maturation process and forced us to anticipate the harvest to 2nd September. A very careful and precise choice of the vineyards, deciding to pick or wait, was necessary, due to the difference of maturation between vineyards. The yields are higher than last year, known as a very low yield year. The young vineyards showed a tendency to block maturation, keeping very low sugar content and unripe tannins, while losing acidity; on the other hand the old vineyards showed a much more balanced ripening. In many cases north facing vineyards had a higher maturation than similar and hotter south facing ones.

The white wines are less aromatic than in previous years but showing good freshness and balance, with alcohol contents lower than 13º. Today (6/10) we are still harvesting white grapes with 12º potential alcohol and very good acidity.

The red wines, in general, are low in malic acid contents which will result in very fast malolactic fermentations, they are all showing good colour and structure, with good amount of tannins without being aggressive. Very good indication for the 2010´s ageing potential.

In general we can only be happy with this harvest, although being a long and difficult one, it gave us austere wines but with great ageing potential.

2009

Although we had a reasonable amount of rain during the month of June in Pinhão, July and August were quite dry with less than 3,5 mm of precipitation. The total rainfall in 2009 until the end of the month of September was 30 to 40% less than the average over the previous 30 years. The other significant impact on the year were the very high temperatures as of 12th August that remained during the month of September without any rain, except for a light thunderstorm in the middle of the month.

For the Douro wines we started harvesting very early – August, and we feared it would be a difficult year with all the wines over 14º alcohol, but the fact is that we are using so many high altitude, north facing vineyards and the perfect timing to start harvesting (earlier than everyone else in Douro), made the difference. Fruit arrived in the winery in very good condition and we manage to harvest most of the vineyards without having raisins, the main work was to chill grapes before being processed in the winery. Tasting everything we have made and still fermenting we feel quite happy with all the wines, which exhibit very deep colours and good concentration but maintaining freshness. White wines are also very promising, with very good freshness and incredibly low alcohol content.

We believe it is a great year for Ports, low yields and high concentration, deep colours - everything we need for great ports. The first fruit was harvested very early on 28 th August from more exposed vineyards in Vale de Mendiz and then later from Soutelo where classic, robust wines have been made while at the same time some wonderfully elegant,individual and fresh wines have been made from less exposed north facing vineyards in Vale de Mendiz. The Pisca vineyard was picked at different stages of the harvest and has produced some very fine wines. The high temperatures were a constant challenge and all wines exhibited high pH´s, the wines have now all been corrected and it will most interesting to see how they close up over the coming winter months.

2008

Its a frantic time of the year, but with the new winery everything is easier and more perfect.

With lots of grapes, rain, with many visitors, the harvest period is a time for little sleep and a lot of confusion, yet its always sad when it finishes.

The harvest is the high point of a years work..

In terms of grape varieties, Tinta Roriz with low yields exhibited a very consistent tannin structure, being one of the first to ripen, Tinta Amarela when planted in drier areas showed great freshness and elegance. Touriga Nacional with a more balanced and gradual maturation showed itself to be more balanced without its usually aromatic exuberance, which for us is positive. Touriga Franca, the most widely planted variety in all the Douro region always showed great elegance and freshness. The conditions at harvest time were optimum allowing a harvest to evolve from the lower more exposed south/west facing areas to the higher altitudes facing south/east. The white wines show great vivacity with very even fermentations highlighting the aromatic freshness of the year.

2008 is a special year ( as nearly all are). It could be said that it is a year that is the total opposite to a classic year in the Douro.Lets see:

  • It was a very humid year with a lot of rain throughout the year;

  • Rain during flowering which gave rise to some poor flowering/fruit set;

  • Many problems in general with mildew and especially with powdery mildew;

  • A Summer which during the harvest was very mild, lacking the characteristically intense heat of the Douro;

  • With very cool nights ( which retains the acidity in the wine);

  • The first rain in the beginning of September at the right time and rain in the second half of September which did not fall at the right time but stopping exactly at the moment when it could have caused a big disaster ( if it had rained for another two days it would have been a catastrophy )

  • And, finally a perfect year for the style of wine that Niepoort likes to make. As we made wines with very good concentration ( the fact that yields in general were very low, brings me to conclude that in the Douro there were losses of 30%), low alcohol and yet fantastic acidity.

    As incredible as it may seem, it appears to us to be a great year for port.

    Extraordinary colours,richly intense wines ( without being overripe), of a rare beauty and elegance and with firm and strong tannins. The harvest in Vale de Mendiz ran incredibly well. Also for Charme it appears to be a fantastic year. The whites are perfect with an exemplary balance.

  • Nature delivered us of the best, now , it is in our hands not to spoil it *

2007

HARVEST 2007 is an exciting year for Niepoort: After several years of very dry winters, the 2006/2007 agricultural year was different. Relatively high winter rainfall was most useful in replacing dwindling water reserves. Further rain in May led to poor fruit set and the unseasonably humid months of June and July gave rise to outbreaks of downy mildew in untreated vineyards. Due to cool weather during the month of August, early September saw maturity slightly delayed. However, warm days and the onset of cooler nights allowed maturity to reach completion by the middle of the month. At Niepoort`s historic winery in Vale de Mendiz, in the heart of the Douro, harvest started on Friday 14th of September. Apart from a brief thunderstorm on 16th of September and light showers at the end the month, the harvest was carried out under excellent conditions. The last grapes arrived on 15th of October. Fermenting musts exhibited dark colours with spectacular purple hues and very good acid balance, thus requiring few acid additions. Stories of potentially high crop losses in untreated vineyards proved to be false, as the majority of vineyards had healthy crops. In addition, the problems with fruit set earlier in the season acted as a substitute for bunch thinning! Overall quality of all the ports is high. The ports demonstrate some wonderfully unique and dark characteristics, especially from old vineyards in the Vale de Mendiz area. These promise to close up well over the coming winter months. Charme, a wine whose elegant style is often a challenge to make in a hot year, benefited from the cooler ripening conditions, providing freshness, acid balance and avoiding overripeness.

QUINTA DE NÁPOLES:

Special year this 2007 harvest, after rainy October and November 2006 with almost 400 mm of total rain, water reserves of the Douro soils were replenished. First months of the year 2007 were quite dry, although February brought good amount of rain. Although March and April add come with average quite spread along the months it was May and especially June that brought heavy rain concentrated in 2 days (14 and 16 June).

All this conditions promoted very good conditions to cryptogrammic diseases pressure all over Douro. And only with careful work in the vineyards growers could keep their vineyards protect specially against downy mildew.

Cool weather of August and good weather of September with fantastic cool nights were perfect to have a balanced maturation in all Douro vineyards, with a slightly delayed harvest started at the brand new winery of Quinta de Nápoles, on 7 September both with red and white grapes, and went until 12th October.

Although we had some initial doubts about the year, everything went smoothly easy, and only a thunderstorm on 16th September gave us reasons to worry with harvest conditions. All fermenting red must exhibits amazing dark purple colours with incredible acidity’s not needing any acid addiction. Like in other years some of the problems with downy mildew help in a few vineyards to reach balanced yields of perfect grapes that certainly one of the causes for such perfect musts.

Maturation of higher white grapes vineyards, were delayed in one or to weeks and it was possible to harvest almost all the vines with less than 13 º potential alcohol and fairly good acidities, given very elegant and complex white wines, full of mineral character.

Overall it was one historical harvest for Niepoort not only because it was the first year of the new winery, but also because 2007 is going to be remembered by is great quality only possible once or twice per decade.

2006

In Vale de Mendiz , 2006 will be remembered for the very violent hail storm in the middle of June, which swept through vineyards with thunderstorms accompanied by intense rain and large hailstones all in the space of half an hour. The damage in vineyards was substantial and even though vineyards recovered reasonably well, the loss of quantity was evident at harvest time.

The agricultural year, yet again, was fairly dry and the summer relatively hot; a few solid showers in mid August and high temperatures, followed by unseasonally high temperatures in early September meant maturity in the vineyard raced ahead at the beginning of the month.

Having expected to start harvest in mid September, the start date was brought forward to the 9th September so as to avoid fruit becoming over ripe. Temperatures remained high during the first two weeks of the harvest, even overnight temperatures rarely dropping below 20º C, thus creating difficult conditions for maturity to reach completion in the vineyard. With the earlier start to vintage, the majority of the grapes were harvested before the rain which as from the 21st September fell intermittently over the following days along with a very heavy shower on 2nd October. The last grapes were received at Vale de Mendiz on 8th October.

Given the less than ideal weather conditions the fermenting musts exhibited good colour and a few small parcels of very fine wines have certainly been made. From an analytical perspective the musts had high pHs and required considerable tartaric acid corrections.

It will be very interesting to taste the wines in the spring of 2007, when a better overall picture of the quality of the year will emerge.

The violent hale that occurred in the Pinhão valley and in other nearby areas didn’t affect the majority of the vineyards we use for Douro wines. After the last three very dry and hot years, 2006 winter was fairly good with substantial amount of water with almost 380 mm of total precipitation during all winter in Cima Corgo region,

During the vine cycle until verasion we had a fairly hot spring but also with higher humidity, that increased the diseases present in the vineyards. The summer was quite hot with average temperatures of 23.2ºC, 26.1ºC and 25.6ºC in June, July and August respectively.

A few days of rain in middle August was perfect for grape maturations, but uncommon high temperatures during the last week of August and 2 first weeks of September, not only during the day but also through the nights, forced us to bring forward the Harvest to 4th September. Using higher altitude and north facing vineyards it was possible to get quite balanced wines with fairly good PH’s and sugar contents in the musts.

The Major part of harvest was done before the first rains in 21st September, and we managed to finish the harvest before the heavy rains of October.

All the harvest was done in order to avoid over ripeness and over extraction, the fermentation was done gently avoiding high temperatures, the final results are red wines with good alcohol content, balanced with good structure, some of them showing great potential. Strangely in the white wines the alcohol levels are not so high, showing much more discrete aromas where the mineral notes dominate overall, certainly interesting to taste during ageing in barrel.

2005

The harvest occurred from from 7th September until 12th October Following a relatively cold and a very dry winter, the growing season was also low in rainfall, hence with low humidity the absence of diseases in the vineyard was evident. A very hot summer, gave rise to vine stress which was most evident especially in hot low lying south facing vineyards leading to berry shrivel and slightly unbalanced fruit. However a light rain shower in early September allowed fruit maturation to achieve completion. The harvest started early, with very clean fruit arriving at the Winery at Quinta de Napoles (dedicated to Niepoort table wines) and at the Winery at Vale de Mendiz (dedicated to Niepoort port wines) and the sorting table, used to remove any poor fruit, also allowed us to remove berry shrivel. The weather during harvest was perfect with no rain, warm days and cool nights, the wines showed very good colour and aroma during fermentation, with yields marginally higher than in 2004. Quinta de Napoles: Some very fine, elegant wines with good acidity have been made with a lot of personality; especially those sourced from cooler north, east facing old vineyards on higher ground exhibiting great freshness. Overall, a better picture of the wines will emerge after the malolactic fermentation but at this stage the wines show a lot of promise and with careful selection of fruit on receival at the winery, the wines show concentration and balance while avoiding the overripe characters which could be expected in such a year.

Vale de Mendiz: Some very fine, elegant port wines have been made with a lot of personality; especially those sourced from cooler north facing vineyards on higher ground exhibiting great freshness. Overall, a better picture of the wines will emerge in the spring but at this stage the wines show a lot of promise and with careful selection of fruit on receival at the winery, the wines show concentration and balance while avoiding the overripe characters which could be expected in such a year