Now that the vine growth cycle is well underway we’ve been putting our latest purchase– the first ever Bodegas Frontonio 4×4 – through its paces. It has a strong pedigree as a vineyard vehicle as it used to belong to Scala Dei, but now it has swopped the terraces of Priorat for the similarly steep slopes of our Alpartir vineyards, which Mario visits on a daily basis to check on the vines’ progress.
As we mentioned in the last update on our vines, things have been running about 2-3 weeks behind the usual schedule due to the heavy rain we saw at the end of winter and start of spring, which led to a late start to the cycle. The first half of June was also cooler than usual with some rainfall, but by the end of the month, the temperatures had picked up again and dry, sunny conditions have continued almost uninterrupted since mid-June to now, the second week of July. This has led to a good “cuajado” or fruit set, although, Garnacha’s naturally tendency to coulure means that there are unformed berries in some bunches. When this is not excessive, as is the case this year, this can actually improve quality as the plant concentrates its energy in producing fewer berries.
The grapes are now hard, green and more or less the size of a pea. Over the next six to eight weeks the grapes will undergo véraison – the “envero” in Spanish – when they change colour from green to purple or translucent golden depending on the variety, and start to swell as they fill with water, sugar levels rise and acidity falls. We’ll be monitoring their progress very closely as we head towards harvest.