2017 – VINTAGE RATING VERY GOOD

The Control Board of the DOCa Rioja awarded the 2017 vintage an official rating of ‘VERY GOOD’. The great results regarding quality are due to a growth cycle marked by severe frost in April and drought. In fact, some wines of this vintage received the highest rating scores given in recent years, with extraordinary marks that highlight their great ageing potential. A total of 249.57 million litres of the 2017 vintage qualified for certification under the DOCa Rioja (21.60 white, 12.07 rosé and 215.90 red). The excellent health of the vineyard throughout the growth cycle, with a total absence of significant plagues or disease, was one of the most outstanding characteristics of a harvest which started on 10 August, making it the earliest in the history of Rioja. Good weather accompanied the end of the cycle, with raised expectations regarding production volume after sombre forecasts in view of the drought and the effects of a major frost which affected one third of of Rioja vines in different degrees. The result is a high-quality, low-volume harvest. The characteristics that define the average profile of the 2017 wines include a slightly higher average alcohol content than last year and an interesting diversity marked largely by the small production volumes. We find fine, elegant wines, with a complex, marked Rioja character, very suitable for barrel ageing and for laying down for a long time. The VERY GOOD rating of the 2017 vintage is the average of the marks received by the wines that passed a strict approval process applied to 4,020 samples. These were taken directly from the wineries’ tanks by Control Board staff and subjected to laboratory and sensory tests. These are also used to determine whether the quality of individual wines can in fact be certified, making them suitable for marketing as Rioja wines. The requirements to pass the certification process have become increasingly stricter in recent years, with the inclusion of more demanding standards, thereby ensuring Rioja’s continuance as a quality wine benchmark. Excellent development of the growth cycle Rioja vineyards developed well in the 2017 growing season. Their condition was extraordinarily good across the region, as reported by the Control Board Empowered Overseers Service, which carries out an exhaustive follow-up of all the stages of the growth cycle. In terms of weather, the year stood out for the absence of rainfall and the frost on 28 April, which affected about one third of the vines in Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa in varying degrees, significantly reducing their production expectations. Without other setbacks worthy of mention, the end of the growing season enjoyed very stable weather, a happy circumstance that yielded a quality harvest. The whole cycle was earlier than usual for Rioja, to the extent that the 2017 harvest became the earliest in the history of this wine region. Bud break started in the easternmost area of in mid-March, almost 15 days earlier than in 2016, proceeding normally and remaining ahead of schedule until the frost. In the rest of the region, the growth cycle maintained the initial lead. The absence of rainfall during the ripening period and extreme temperatures during the summer accelerated sugar ripening, which is probably the reason why potential alcohol in grapes was slightly higher than the previous year. In general, the end of the cycle experienced very slow ripening, which required paying special attention to phenolic ripening, since initially it was at some distance from sugar ripening. The harvest began in the Rioja Oriental zone, with the picking of the earliest white varieties starting on an unusual date for Rioja, 10 August (three weeks earlier than in the previous year). By late August, canopies were being affected by the prolonged drought and heat, but they recovered thanks to timely rain and were able to continue the ripening process necessary for the positive development of phenolic ripening. Good weather conditions at the end of the cycle made it possible for the harvest to be carried out in stages. The excellent work carried out by the grape growers made it possible to pick each vineyard with well-balanced ripeness and superb grape condition, making it easier to manage the incoming grapes at the winery. To conclude, although scarce, the 2017 harvest yielded wines with slightly higher alcohol contents than the previous vintage, good structure and high ageing potential, so it can be considered a vintage of great quality.
Final mark: very good.
Marked wine:
249,57 million litres.
Red:
215,90 million litres.
White:
21,60 million litres.
Rosé:
12,07 million litres.

2016 vintage – VERY GOOD

The Control Board of the DOCa Rioja has awarded the official rating of ‘VERY GOOD’ to the 2016 vintage of Rioja. After a positive evolution throughout the vegetative cycle, the vintage offered very satisfactory results in terms of quality and quantity, with a production of 315.57 million litres protected by the DOCa. Among the outstanding qualities of the harvest, we can highlight the great balance between acidity and alcohol content shown by wines, the aromatic quality and the excellent phenolic maturity, which provide persistence and depth.
The rating of ‘VERY GOOD’ of this vintage is the average mark of a rigorous procedure of grading by the analysis and tasting of 337.33 million litres of wine elaborated on the 2016 harvest. 4,821 samples from the barrels on the wine cellar were used by the experts of the Board. In total, 315.57 million litres of the 2016 harvest (23.01 of white, 14.62 of rosé and 277.94 of red) qualified for certification under the DOCa Rioja. Even though the quality parameters of the 2016 vintage are higher than those of the previous harvest, both have received the same mark.
According to the report of the Overseers’ Service of the Control Board, who makes an exhaustive follow-up of all the phases of the cycle, the climatology favoured the correct evolution of the vegetative state of the vineyard and the lack of plagues or important diseases. All this provided healthy grapes until the end of the harvest. The 2016 harvest was surprising due to its long development of over two months, the good climatology and improvement of the productive expectations after a cycle marked by the drought and the high temperatures on summer. The intensification of the productive controls by the Control Board in order to optimise the quality has been another particularity of the campaign.
Among the characteristics that define the profile of the wines from the 2016 vintage, whose average graduation is 13.440 against 14.150 from the previous year, we can highlight the great balance between acidity and alcohol content, which provides freshness and phenolic maturity, a very exciting duality. In addition to the intensity and aromatic quality, this excellent phenolic ripening is shown in the softness and the roundness of the tannin on palate, producing wines with depth and persistence.

Final mark: VERY GOOD.

Marked wine: 315,57 million litres.

Red: 277,94 million litres.

White: 23,01 million litres.

Rosé: 14,62 million litres.

2015 vintage – VERY GOOD

The Control Board of the DOCa Rioja has awarded the rating of ‘VERY GOOD’ to the 2015 vintage of Rioja, which was the earliest of the history of La Rioja. It offered very satisfactory results in terms of quality and quantity, with a production of 319 million litres of wine and excellent characteristics such as freshness, elegance and a great potential for ageing. This rating is the average mark of a rigorous procedure of grading passed by the 4,454 samples from the barrels on the wine cellar. They were used by the experts of the Board and submitted to a chemical and organoleptic analysis. Finally, 298.48 million litres were marked (16.62 of white, 13.62 of rosé and 268.24 of red). They qualified for certification under the DOCa Rioja, which represents a guarantee of quality for consumers.

The good climatology, which favoured the excellent vegetative and healthy state of the vineyard throughout the cycle, with lack of plagues or important diseases, allowed a correct maturative balance in all the vineyards. This was accompanied by a month of September that was exceptionally favourable for the quality. One of the particularities of this 2015 harvest was its simultaneous development in all the DOCa territory. The majority of it was concentrated in four weeks, when traditionally, the harvest at La Rioja takes place in two months. The feast of Our Lady of the Pillar, the 12th October, is traditionally the peak moment of the harvest. However, this year almost all the harvest was already collected by that point. The grapes were of great quality, characterised by its health and the appropriate analytical parameters for the elaboration of excellent wines. It should be noted the great quality of wines from vineyards located in cooler areas, with a moderate vigour and a tight productive load.

In comparison with the previous harvest, the red wines offer more outstanding results. Their average alcohol level (14.15º) is slightly higher than usual. Among the characteristics that define the profile of the red wines from the 2015 vintage, we can highlight that they have intense fruity nuances, thanks to their good maturity, and elegant tannins that show an exceptional softness. In general, they are red wines of great aromatic complexity, elegant, with a good balance and a structure with a high potential for ageing. The total area of productive vineyard in the 2015 vintage has been of 61,870 hectares, 334 more than in the previous vintage. From that total, 57,861 hectares correspond to red varieties, from which 392.98 million kilograms are considered protected production, and 4,009 hectares are white varieties, whose protected production has been 33.72 million kilograms. This production is greater than the previous year, but inferior to what could have been protected if the maximum yields per hectare were reached (6,955 kg/ha for red grapes and 9,360 kg kg/ha for white).

Final mark: VERY GOOD.

Marked wine: 298,48 million litres.

Red: 268,24 million litres.

White: 16,62 million litres.

Rosé: 13,62 million litres.

2014 vintage – GOOD

The Control Board of the DOCa Rioja has awarded the rating of ‘GOOD’ to the 2014 vintage, which has offer better results than the previous harvest in terms of quality and quantity. After a vegetative cycle with very good climatology, the Riojan vineyard had an excellent vegetative and health situation at the end of the veraison, with expectations of a great harvest in terms of quality and quantity that the adverse weather allowed to obtain in part.
Such expectations have been fulfilled to an extent. That’s reflected in the mark ‘GOOD’, given the heterogeneity of the wines from this vintage, with a relevant percentage of wines of great quality to address the needs of aged wines. It should be noted the excellent quality of the white and rosé wines from this vintage, as unanimously recognised by the 140 members of the Tasting Panel of the Board.
The Control Board communicated on the 21st of October the official closure of the harvest, whose first grapes were cut of the 30th of August at the eastern town of the DOCa., Alfaro. It continued slowly and without problems until the first weekend of October, when the peak moment of the harvest takes place at La Rioja. During that period, more than 300 million kilograms of grapes were collected, and they were in perfect health conditions. The last third of the harvest was conditioned by an unfavourable weather, which required the viticulturists to show once again their good preparation to deal with this type of situations and obtain the best of each exploitation through a selective harvest. The negative effects were minimised in the vineyards that received the appropriate treatments, such as bunch thinning, leaf removing, etc.
The total area of productive vineyard in the 2014 vintage has been of 61,645 hectares, 200 less than in the previous vintage. From that total, 57,761 hectares correspond to red varieties, from which 398 million kilograms are considered protected production, and 3,884 hectares are white varieties, whose protected production has been 36 million kilograms. This production corresponds to the productive potential that currently has the DOCa Rioja according to the limitation of the maximum yields per hectare defined for this campaign.

Final mark: GOOD

Marked wine: 293,52 million litres.

Red: 258,15 million litres.

White: 20,37 million litres.

Rosé: 14,99 million litres.