2008 Port: Vintage guide


Dry, cool season and fortuitous late ripening for those who held out until mid-September’s unexpected sunshine. Single-quinta vintage declaration.

Weather Conditions

After a dry winter, double rations of rain drenched the Douro throughout April. The damp, stormy weather encouraged mildew, while low May temperatures delayed flowering. Fruit set was low and patchy.

Cool, dry weather continued throughout June and July, and the usual intense heat of August never materialised. Instead of the hot, dry winds from the Spanish plain – the usual scenario – later summer was cooled further by damp Atlantic breezes.

The unseasonal temperatures postponed ripening. Although early September rain ushered in a very warm period to kick-start sugar accumulation, by mid-month the port grapes still weren’t ready. A dreary long-range outlook had some growers panic-picking– unfortunate, since others enjoyed perfect harvest weather (23 September to mid-October) and could pick well-ripened berries more judiciously.

Best Appellations

The yield was low and harvested fruit healthy, with soft, thinnish skins as a result of the cooler temperatures. The pressings soon revealed a fine acidity and lovely aromas.

On St George’s Day the following April, as is traditional, the vintage was declared by the major port house, although uniquely for single quintas (not the true Vintage Port offerings). These vary from lighter, less imposing styles – but nonetheless ripe and luxuriant – like Dow’s Quinta Senhora de Ribeira to richer, rounded and silkier offerings such as Taylor’s highly-rated Terra Feita. Good grip, finish and ripe fruit will be hallmarks.

General quality will of course be quite varied: those who brought in under-ripe fruit will have struggled to make wines of sufficient power and richness.

Best Producers

Single-quintas from Taylor’s (Vargellas and Terra Feita), Fonseca (Panascal and Guimaraens), Croft (Roeda) and Dow’s (Senhora de Ribeira and Vesuvio)