Harvest 2019: Spain and Portugal
The 2019 harvest in Spain was a challenging one, with dry weather resulting in lower yields for most regions. However, quality looks promising - well balanced, with rich, concentrated flavours.
Bibendum Senior Wine Buyer, Jamie Avenell, explains, "Spain's 2019 harvest can be characterised as a great vintage for quality focused producers, if a bit of a disappointing one for those trying to produce larger volumes. An extremely dry summer was heightened by periods of extreme heat, which together has resulted in yields ranging from 30 - 60% below the 2018 vintage volumes. However, combined with good sanitary conditions in the vineyards, most of our producers harvested healthy, concentrated fruit, with good acidity and tannins for the reds."
Here is a round up of the 2019 harvest from some of our Spanish producers.
"The harvest always starts with the pressure of getting to all the details!" says winery owner and director, Maria Jose Yravedra. "After so many months working in the vineyard, taking care of each parcel, each varietal, the harvest is like the performance of a great symphony orchestra."
"This year the climate has been dry, with a spring-like winter and common frosts during spring that led to a long flowering. August was characterised by cold nights and warm days, resulting in perfect acidity for the grapes. We don't harvest at night, like other provinces in Spain to avoid the heat; if we did, we would roll down the hills of 50-70% inclination! That is why we harvest by hand, with a very careful selection of the clusters."
"Our summer was typical in some ways, but rather odd in others," explains Andrew McCarthy, sales and marketing manager and husband of owner, Angela. "It was very dry, and sunny, but not really as hot as we would have anticipated. Even when the rest of Europe was baking (experiencing record temperatures), Galicia remained stubbornly temperate."
"The result was that bunches, and more particularly the berries, were small but relatively thin-skinned - a combination of lack of water, and lack of excessive heat. Most significantly, the yields were well down on recent vintages, by perhaps as much as 20 to 25%."
"A late burst of heat and sunshine just before picking sent bodegas scrambling to gather fruit before acidity dropped too much, and the potential alcohol became too elevated (as it did in 2018). The resulting wine is full, fruity and concentrated, but still balanced by a good acidity. While alcohol is still a little higher than typical vintages, this year's harvest will be very good."
Castilla y Leon (Ribera del Duero and Rueda)
Lower rainfall, and a very hot and dry spring and summer, led to yields that are down 30% on 2018, and 12% on an average year. Technical director Marilena Bonilla says, "Despite the lower yields, the grapes are of excellent quality and with no diseases."
"The 2019 harvest will be characterised by fewer grapes, that are very concentrated and of outstanding quality," says export manager Raquel Fernandez. "While the yields are low due to the lack of rainfall, especially during spring, this harvest provided us with grapes of excellent health and quality. The high organoleptic concentration will provide more aromatic wines, with an increased mouthfeel and a more balanced acidity."
"The temperature difference between day and night, with moderate temperatures during the day, has granted a slower maturity and made it possible to harvest the grapes with optimal acidity, pH and potential alcohol parameters," he says.
Catalunya (Costers del Segre)
"While 2018 ended up with many rainy days between September and November, water fall during 2019 was really scarce," says Carlos Mora from Tomas Cusine. "Hot temperatures in late spring and early summer had a negative effect on blooming and budburst, which together with the lack of rain has resulted in a much lower yield."
"Thanks to milder and more temperature weather in September and October, grapes matured smoothly, resulting in wines with good acidity, fragrance and balance."
"The 2019 harvest has been very, very special because of extreme weather conditions," says owner and winemaker Albert Jane. "Despite the very low rainfall and a hot end of June and July, vineyards were able to resist a lot because of the high rainfall of 2018, as well as cooler temperatures during August. Yields are quite low, but of extremely good quality, resulting in very rich and intense wines."
Andalucia (Montilla-Moriles) and Extremadura (Ribera del Guadiana)
"The growing season has been really kind to us," explains export manager Alvaro Ruiz. "We've had nice spring rains, followed by a very dry, hot summer - but not as extreme as other years, in terms of diurnal range. Extremadura has been drier this year, with two specific heat waves in the summer that affected the Syrah. Other than that, it's been cool and steady."
"The quality is very good for sweet wines and finos (expect to see an 'En Rama' from this vintage down the line) and outstanding for dry still whites and reds. Yields are down due to the very dry summer for all still wines, but concentration is higher and definition is looking great. Expect 3 Miradas 2019 to be two steps beyond the current vintage, and Zarcita 2019 to be a killer Gevrey-Chambertin-reminiscent bomb!"
Yields are slightly down on 2018, but Portugal has fared better than many other European countries. "Warm conditions early in the season resulted in early flowering and fruit set, while cooler weather immediately after this gave a slow start to growth," explains Bibendum wine buyer Jamie Avenell. "There was a lack of rain and some sunburn in the vineyards during summer heatwaves, but rain in August revived the vines and the harvest has been largely settled."
Quinta das Arcas
"This year, we are expecting an exceptional vintage," says winemaker Fernando Machado. "We had a little less quantity this year (down 10%) compared to average, which was caused by an early start to the cycle and some heavy rain during flowering, compromising the buds' quality. The rest of the season was normal, and we were lucky enough to avoid the high temperature peaks that were registered in central Europe."