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They are picking in the Douro

Published:  23 July, 2008

They started picking grapes in the Douro on 30 August as growers and producers started to count the cost of the drought in Portugal this year - it has hardly rained since May and this is the third dry winter in a row.

Paul Symington, joint managing director of the Symington Family Estates, was at the New Douro tasting in London on 7 September. He told Harpers: 'Basically it hasn't rained since May. Yields are way down, and it is going to be tough for the red wines. Ironically, because it has been so dry, the vines are in fantastic health.'

The higher vineyards should produce exceptional wines as a result of cooler night-time temperatures.

The implication for Port production is not so severe because the Port Wine Institute has fixed total production at 120,000 pipes of must, a reduction on last year's figure. This is 10% below predicted worldwide sales, which should result in destocking in the trade and bring supply into line with demand.

Asked if this might curtail deep discounting and multiple retailer loss leading, particularly on LBVs at Christmas, Symington said: I hope so.'