A guide to the 2016 harvest: Rest of Europe

While global production is estimated to be down 5% from last year and with many European regions affected by adverse climatic conditions, the overall impression in Europe is one of good – and sometimes even excellent – quality.
 

We spoke to some of our producers in England, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and Greece to find out more.


England

Quality was good across the board at Ridgeview this year and Mardi Roberts explains that the last burst of September sunshine and overall favourable 2016 weather meant that the fruit could remain on the vines for an extended period, increasing flavours.

“Yields are generally down, due to the cold snap in April and mixed weather during flowering. But what 2016 lacks in quantity, it makes up for in extremely good quality. The base wines are tasting excellent with really fine, concentrated fruit flavours and well-balanced acidity.”

At Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex, volumes are lower than 2015, although the warm weather during August and September resulted in good phenolic ripeness – and very good quality.

This was also a relatively low yielding harvest for Coates & Seely in Hampshire, but according to Nicholas Coates, the signs are there that it will be a very good quality one.

For the winemaking team at Chapel Down in Kent, 2016 is shaping up to “be one of the best ever in terms of quality”.

Portugal

Although 2016 was an extremely demanding year, with production losses throughout the entire Douro, Quinta do Vallado registered only a small fall in yields compared to 2015. Joao Ribeiro says, “Harvest started eight days later than 2015, but the wait was greatly rewarded, as all grapes were picked under dry and warm weather conditions, having achieved premium quality.”

“The 2016 wines have moderate alcohol levels and good acidity. The aromas are less exuberant and more austere and mineral, especially for the whites. Due to the initial lack of water, the reds achieved magnificent concentration and colour, and so excellent quality wines are expected.”

Germany

Katharina Okfen explains that despite very bad weather conditions during the entire season, the harvest at Markus Molitor in the Mosel turned out to be great this year. “The developing wines seem promising – very aromatic, with lower alcohols and a good balance of minerality and fruitiness. While acidity might be a bit lower than average, the minerality keeps it lively and fresh. It was a very good vintage for classic Mosel Rieslings, especially Kabinett and Spätlese.”

For Prinz von Hessen in the Rheingau, yields are a little lower than average, while quality is outstanding. Andrea Demmer says, “The young wines are already giving us a glimpse of the fascinating fruit aromas and elegance of the year.”

Austria

This was no easy harvest due to some climatic ups and downs, and yields at Mantlerhof in Kremstal are down by almost 15%. Josef Mantler junior explains, “With warmer weather during August and September, ripening progressed nicely and it turned out to be a good harvest. The developing wines have a higher acidity with lower alcohol levels, and the quality is very satisfactory.”

Slovenia

2016 was one of the most unusual harvests in the last decade for P&F Wineries, with various challenges due to extreme weather conditions at the beginning of the year. However, the weather later improved and was perfect until harvest. Chief winemaker Mitja Herga says, “This will be the year of some big white wines from Podravje. The overall vintage is small, but very good.”

Winemaker Dane Jovanov adds, “Quality of the wines from Macedonia is promising and we can expect good Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Vranec.”

Hungary

At Royal Tokaji, 2016 was almost the perfect season, with sufficient sunshine, rain and humidity. But according to Christopher Donaldson MW, this was too good to last. “Our vineyard manager had to call on all his skills and experience to ensure the eventual success of the vintage – bringing in a lovely crop with excellent flavour, body and acidity.”

“We’re delighted with the results and early signs are for The Oddity to be an elegant, perfectly balanced dry Tokaji, with great depth of flavour. We expect the Late Harvest to have lots of fruit, with crisp and refreshing acidity, and extra complexity due to the abundance of noble rot. The onset of botrytis, or Aszu, was early, rapid and of high quality, and we made several passages through our vineyards, picking berry by berry. It was perfect weather for Aszu and we are confident of making good volumes of the classic Blue Label 5 Puttonyos,” Christopher says.

Greece

The year was close to perfect for Kir Yianni’s vineyards in Macedonia and Naoussa. Lambros Papadimitriou explains, “All red varieties for the Ktima wines from Naoussa matured extremely well, while the Amyndeon wines show very high quality for the early ripening whites and reds. Wines already vinified have good alcohol and acidity levels, mainly due to the cool night temperatures and absence of heat waves. The reds are dark in colour with very ripe tannins, and we expect a great year for Xinomavro!”


Find out more about the 2016 harvest across the rest of the Northern Hemisphere here.

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Date:
20th December 2016


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