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Amidst growing concerns over climate change worldwide, the Douro has seen its fair share of unusual weather patterns in recent years. 2017 in particular was an exceptionally hot and dry year, with 42% less rain falling at Quinta dos Malvedos than the recorded thirty year average. Fortunately, the very hardy and drought resistant Douro varieties were well prepared to face this challenge and responded to the lack of water by devoting their efforts on producing a small but high quality crop with extraordinary concentration.
What was also remarkable in 2017 was the timing of the vintage, which started at Malvedos on 28th August, with the vines between two and three weeks ahead of normal in terms of their vegetative cycle. With such a small crop, only 166 pipes of grapes compared to 252 the year before at Malvedos (one third less), the vintage was over by September 15th. Charles Symington noted at the time that we finished up on the same date that we would have been starting in a more typical year.
Also of note in 2017 was the early ripening of the Touriga Franca, typically the last variety to be picked, which came into the winery almost a full three weeks ahead of normal, with a staggeringly low average yield of 650 grams per vine. Similar conditions were recorded at Vale de Malhadas in the Douro Superior and at Vila Velha and Tua in the Cima Corgo each of which supplied wines for the 2017 Graham’s Vintage Port. The quality of the Touriga Franca was so good that Charles increased its proportion in the final 2017 blend, relative to the two preceding Graham Vintages. The performance of the Touriga Franca is one of the surest barometers of a Vintage Port year.
The wine is a truly outstanding example of the best that the Douro is capable of producing. Deep purple in colour and with a viscosity that signals a huge concentration, the aromas of blackberry, plum and bergamot leap out of the glass. On the palate there are layers of black fruit with fresh apricot highlights, and an amazingly long and persistent finish.