The 2012 Madeira vintage has been described as excellent by winemakers and perhaps with the exception of 2008, it has been the largest for over 10 years.
Speaking to the guys at the winery, they can’t remember such a high quantity of quality grapes being delivered to the winery as the favourable weather conditions throughout the year meant that humidity had almost no impact on the grapes.
If I could, I would declare 2012 a VINTAGE year.
The majority of those that pruned late in February/March benefited more than those who pruned in late January/February due to the following rainfall and warm temperatures that allowed the bud break to shoot well.
Flowering and fruit set happened as usual in late March and late April with many of the farmers deciding to water their plants at this stage to minimize water stress as a result of the lack of rainfall.
The constant warm weather, low humidity and lack of rain throughout the summer months meant that by August, we had a clear indication of the fact that not only would the harvest start early, but that it would also surpass the quantities that many had forecasted that summer.
The Madeira Wine Company’s harvest began quietly on the 17th of August with 534 kilos of Verdelho and Terrantez from my cousin Andrew’s Quinta Santa Luzia in Funchal. The winery only then went into full working mode as of the 27th of August and worked solidly until the 21st of September. Our harvest officially ended on the 4th of October with the traditionally late arrival of Sercial from Jardim da Serra, high up (800 metres) in the mountains above Camara de Lobos.
The quality of the grapes was outstanding, especially the Tinta Negra from the Estreito de Camara de Lobos, Sercial from Jardim da Serra, Bual from Calheta and Verdelho from Raposeira.
The weather during picking was almost text book, being interrupted only a few times as a result of rain – once on the north on the 16th of September, on the south, starting on the 25th of September which lasted a few days and finally again on the south on the 1st of October.
We managed to secure almost all of the varietals we needed, with the exception of Malmsey and Terrantez. The Terrantez this year was particularly disappointing, not only for us, but for the whole sector as only 500 Kgs were harvested. More must be done by the Institute and all to secure the future of these traditional noble varieties.
CEO Madeira Wine Company, SA