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Low Port yields expected after hail, sunburn

Port producers in the Douro Valley expect yields to be down this year after being hit by hail, and extreme heat, in the past two months.

Quinta do Vale de Malhadas in the Douro Superior

After an unusually hot May and a cool early June, temperatures soared into the low 40s Celsius during the last weekend of the month, inflicting the worst sunburn in living memory on the vineyards.

Writing in his Graham’s Port blog, Symington Family Estates viticulturist Miles Edlmann said the heat particularly affected the Vilariça Valley, which had also been damaged by hail earlier in the month.

The sun’s effects were worst in the Douro Superior, on south-west-facing vineyards and among plantings of Tinta Barroca, he added.

‘Parcelas (vineyard plots) which managed to unite the unhappy conjunction of variety, sub-region and exposition lost the entire crop,’ said Edlmann.

‘Elsewhere, more vulnerable berries were killed off, leaving the rest of the bunch intact. Not even the oldest caseiros can remember having seen sunburn quite like it.’

Other varieties impacted by the extreme heat include the thin-skinned Sousão and Touriga Francesa, which usually stands up better to high temperatures.

The quality of the 2011 crop should be unaffected, said Edlmann, but yields will be ‘down across the region’ as a result.

Written by Richard Woodard

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