Long Wines offers an initial assessment of Spain’s 2017 harvest
With the harvest all but completed we have been in close contact with our partner wineries to keep up-to-date on the vintage situation and things are quite dramatic in certain areas. We are generally expecting a 2017 harvest of very good quality but much lower in quantity than in 2016.
To put this in context, according to the magazine The Drinks Business “The EU wine harvest is set for a 36 year low. Spain predicts volume to be 16% lower compared to 2016 and in France and Italy, winemakers are expecting a 17% and 21% reduction respectively”.
If we turn first to Aragón – Campo de Borja, Cariñena – and IGP Valdejalón – we have seen the shortest harvest in history. This was due to drought as well as late frost.
DO Cariñena seems to have been the most affected, with a 50% loss of average harvest although our sources tell us they will declare other figures publicly.
In Campo de Borja DO, we are looking at a drop of over 15%, and up to 20% in hail-stricken areas like Fuendejalón. However, August rains helped other places such as Ainzón. Prices of DO Campo de Borja will not increase substantially we are pleased to predict as this is an area we continue to bet heavily on.
Fortunately IGP Valdejalón escaped the hail and experienced a good level of rainfall in August, therefore the vintage is excellent and only 5-7 days earlier than the previous harvest. The resulting wines have maintained a good acidity, resulting in fresher wines: the very quality we look for and in line – as we see it – with market trends as today’s consumers turn away from over-macerated, over-alcoholic, over-ripe unbalanced wines.
Castilla La Mancha
In Castilla La Mancha, the region which produces over half of Spain’s wine, we see the same tendency of a shorter harvest and rising grape prices yet good in terms of quality. The principal varietals are being sold to the bodegas at a price of 0.65€/kg.
In DO Toro there was an unexpected drop, almost 20%, in the volume of the harvest with respect to the previous year. Although the same quantity of grapes arrived at the cellar the must they contained was down. Despite the harvest being less voluminous, it was of very good quality. There were no diseases and the grapes achieved a good level of maturation. We also witnessed a bump in the price rise of grapes per kilo of 0.04€ to 0.06€.
Similar conditions were seen in neighbouring DO Rueda, where a drop of almost 20% in the harvest also occurred. As in DO Toro, even though the harvest yielded less, the quality of what was collected was very good; free of diseases and with good grape maturation. Prices of grapes are also on the rise by about 0.05€ to 0.06€ per kilo. Due to a fall in sales, the wineries still have 20% of their 2016 harvest unsold. Vino de la Tierra de Castilla has all but disappeared. We think the area will become quite volatile as wineries will continue to seek higher prices that the markets are unwilling to accept and qualities are very variable.
The news coming out of DO Rías Baixas is much the same sort of story that is being found around the country this year. Yet again an unexpected 20% drop in the volume of the Albariño harvest, with respect to last year, but also a very good quality one with no diseases and with good levels of maturation.
Jumilla and Yecla
Good news is to be found in DO Jumilla and DO Yecla, down in the hot southeast of the country. Recent rains have saved the crop from the year of drought it had been experiencing. The resulting grapes are good quality and the area was free of diseases.
In the more northerly Rioja DOCa we are seeing grape prices hit historic high levels of more than 1.20€/kg. The situation is at a complete halt and no trading is taking place. Notwithstanding this growers and bodegas think that prices will rise between 30 and 40%. The frustration we feel is that the prices will really start to adjust around March of next year by which time most clients will have taken their “positions”. At the end of the day, it is bulk wines prices which change the landscape …
This year vino joven (young wine) has all but disappeared as a category. In Rioja Alta they have managed to recuperate some of the grape quantity with the second bud break. Crianza and oak aged wine prices will be less affected.
In DO Cava the region experienced a combination of low rainfall and high temperatures during the months of June, July and August. This has meant that production was 10% below average, with the varieties Macabeu and Xarel-lo suffering the most of all. We must also take into account that the 2016 harvest dropped about 20% on average. We are seeing that resulting alcohol levels are rather high, so as a consequence, the harvest has been brought forward 15 days earlier than the previous year. The overall health of the vineyard is excellent.
Ribera del Duero / Bierzo
DO Ribera del Duero and DO Bierzo have experienced a reduced harvest volume this year, due to late frosts that took out many buds so that the harvest loss has been extreme.
For more detailed harvest information please contact our product manager Elena Ramos, email@example.com