The 2019 harvest in the Rioja DOCa saw approximately 385 million kg of grapes harvested (187 million at Rioja Alta, 109 at Rioja Oriental, and 89 million at Rioja Alavesa), of which 342 million kg were red grapes and 43 million kg were white grapes.
As the 2019 harvest in the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja draws to a close, the main observation which can made it that this was a year with less vigour in the vineyard. This has resulted in a lower yield, characterised by less tightly packed clusters and smaller grapes – all key components in guaranteeing maximum quality.
This combination of factors, together with the outstanding overall health of the vines, made possible by the extraordinary weather conditions throughout the harvest and especially throughout October, “will make this a unique vintage, and although it is still early to look at the results, we have high hopes that this vintage will be recorded as a memorable year in the history of Rioja wine”, concludes Pablo Franco, technical director of the Designation.
An additional factor is the staggered harvest periods amongst the three production zones that allowed the grapes to achieve levels of maturation without overlapping: “the harvests have taken place according to the corresponding and appropriate times of a typical harvest, facilitating the selection and entry of the grapes into the wineries”, confirms Franco.
The good level of vine health has proved key in obtaining these results, along with the huge amount of work put in by the 14,800 growers and 600 wineries from Rioja, as well as the support of over 200 technicians and harvest staff that work in the Consejo; “this hard work and determination has resulted in a feeling of optimism and a job well done. Despite the season having been a complex one, we didn’t suffer from major climatic setbacks, which allowed us to pick at the optimal time.”
In terms of the wines produced “the first impressions of quality are really encouraging; the rains came just at the right moment and the vegetative conditions have been exceptional all year round which has allowed us to obtain balanced wines with great aromatic intensity and very good colour extraction”.
The first rackings reveal a notable structure, typical of the most traditional wines from Rioja: “their good structure, along with an excellent aromatic definition, leads us to believe that these will be wines with great ageing potential” affirms the Control board, which also highlighted the balance between the pH, acidity, and alcohol, even though the last few days of the harvest saw high temperatures which led to accelerated grape ripening and a slight increase in alcohol levels.
There is no doubt, from what’s been seen in the vineyards and from what the results of the first rackings are revealing, that 2019 could be “THE vintage”; a year that reflects the skills of both growers and producers in managing the weather conditions.