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Rioja’s harvest is coming in at around 20% smaller than usual, as exceptionally hot, dry weather has made for early ripening and record picking times.
Diego Pinilla, head winemaker at Bodegas Bilbaínas, said harvesting on its estate began a fortnight earlier than in 2010. “We have not finished the harvest but we think the total yield will be between 15% to 25% less. This is because we’ve had very little rain in the past three months,” he said.
Pinilla added this made it “more important than ever” to evaluate fruit in the fields before picking. But he said the first wines, now finishing fermentation, had a “lot of potential”.
José Luis Ripa, commercial director at López de Heredia, said the “extremely favourable” weather meant the harvest arrived in September and would be one of the quickest on record at the winery, finishing in mid-October.
“In terms of quantity, we are expecting around 20% fewer grapes than average. In terms of quality, the sanitary state of the grapes is excellent, and the sugar content is fairly high, yet some more water during the whole cycle would have been suitable for the optimum quality,” added Ripa.
Víctor Fuentes, international director at the Barón de Ley group, said: “We have started one of the earliest harvests, caused by very dry weeks in August and September. The quality is looking quite nice – powerful wines with good alcoholic degree and reasonably good balance, but rather short.”
The DOCa said it was likely to be smaller than 2010, but it was too early to give an accurate estimate.
Story by Gemma McKenna
Courtesy of harpers Wine and Spirit Trades Review