Rioja celebrates a “superb” vintage with great weather for quality grapes

Unusually good weather, exceptional condition of the grapes and staggered picking has resulted in a “superb” Rioja harvest.

In total, 442.4m kg of grapes were picked, which was turned into 318.5m litres of wine according to the DOCa Rioja.   Both the quantity and quality of this year’s crop have been described as “highly satisfactory”, with the unusually good weather in September and October contributing to the “exceptional” quality of the grapes this harvest.

This has enabled producers to be highly selective and to be able to pick the grapes only when they reach their optimum ripeness in each vineyard.

Last year was the earliest Rioja harvest on record, ending on October 13th, but 2016 has been equally notable in that it has lasted for over two months. This was the result of the good weather, combined with an unexpected increase in production after a growing season marked by both drought and high summer temperatures.

The total grape production surface area in the region for 2016 was 62,641 hectares (759 more than in 2015). Of that total, the vast majority, 58,016 hectares, are planted with red varieties and 4,625 with white (143 and 620 more than in 2015 respectively).

The area yielded an authorised production of 400.14 million kg of red grapes (90%) and 42.22 million kg of white grapes (10%). A total of 462.5 million kg grapes were picked this year of which 442.4 million kg were approved after discarding excess production.

These were used to make 318.5 million litres of D.O. certified wine. This amount is somewhat lower than what could theoretically be approved with the maximum yields per hectare set out in this year’s Harvest Standards.

And initial impressions about the quality of the 2016 vintage wines are “very optimistic”.

The Control Board will soon start the rating process (which involves laboratory tests and tastings) to accurately assess the wine made by each winery and in the region as a whole.

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Neville Blech
 

Qualified as a chartered accountant in 1959 and became passionate about food and wine whilst working in Italy in the early sixties.

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