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Symington predicts ‘high quality vintage’ in Douro

Published:  11 September, 2023

With the red grapes still coming in across various estates, leading producer Symington Family Estates is predicting one of the best Douro vintages in recent years.

Head winemaker Charles Symington has described this year’s growth cycle as “largely favourable”, breaking a recent pattern of heatwaves and low yields.

“While much of southern Europe experienced intense heatwaves over this summer, Portugal was largely spared,” said Symington.

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“July temperatures for the whole country were close to normal, while the Douro was fractionally below average. The region benefited from an anticyclone that generated strong northerly winds (known as the ‘nortada’), which brought cooler maritime air and more humid conditions.”

Following an incredibly dry 2022, generous winter and spring rainfalls replenished water in the soils, allowing for enough moisture to counter a warm, dry July and August, with rain across the valley at the beginning of September then being beneficial for the balance in the grapes still to be harvested.

“We started our harvest in the Douro on the 21 August by picking Viosinho white grapes at our high-altitude estates in the Cima Corgo sub-region. In the last week of August, we began harvesting red grapes (Sousão, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional) from select plots of vineyard across our estates in the eastern Douro Superior sub-region,” said Symington.

“We have now started harvesting across all our principal estates, following some almost perfectly timed rain across the entire Douro Valley on 2 and 3 September, which will be beneficial for final ripening of the grapes and development of colour, tannins and aromas in the wines.”

The outlook for the rest of September is maximum temperatures of 30°C, with correspondingly cool nights, backing Symington’s optimistic prediction for the 2023 harvest.