A good end to a year marked by uncertainty and tension.
The Control Board of the DOCa Rioja gave the official rating of ‘GOOD’ to the difficult 2018 vintage which, after a proper development throughout the end of the growing cycle, ended up leaving satisfactory results.
The year was marked by meteorological phenomena of little significance at a general level, as well as by the uncertainty caused by the continuous threats of mildew.
The Rioja vineyard underwent a favorable evolution throughout the growing cycle of the Denomination. According to the report by the Control Board’s Overseers Service, which carries out a complete study of all cycle stages, if there is one thing that made this season’s growing cycle stand out, it is the «absence of severe weather-related setbacks».
The harvest took place on regular dates and was one of the longest in Rioja’s history, characterized by good weather at the end of the cycle and an improvement in the initial production expectations.
Budding began in the easternmost part of the region during the second half of March—this meant a delay of 20 days when compared to the previous campaign, and about 4 or 5 days over the phenology of what we consider a normal year.
The abundant rainfall recorded during winter and spring of 2018 led to an excellent vineyard situation during the first months of the cycle.
This initially well-received situation began to be worrying during the first half of July when, in addition to the abundant rainfall, there were also storms and hails—which fortunately did not damage the harvest—that were highly favorable for the development of downy mildew, together with the typical high temperatures of that season.
This situation would have been catastrophic if weather had continued to be unstable. It fortunately changed during the second half of July, when rain stopped, and warm and dry weather began. In most of the vineyards ,this change in conditions led mycelium to dry, while leaf mass and bunches recovered. The health conditions of the vineyard significantly improved.
Ripening took place in normal conditions, with suitable quality parameters and a higher average weight of the berries due to the good weather conditions.
The grape harvest began on August 27th, 17 days later than the previous season. Generally, the end of the cycle was characterized by a staggered harvest during the usual dates, with a measured grape entrance in the winery due to a slower end of ripening, All these together with good weather conditions, meant that grapes could be kept in the vineyard for longer in order to achieve optimum ripening conditions.
The grape harvest was marked by a great selection of grapes, both in the vineyard and in the winery, and by no weather setbacks.
Among the features that define the average profile of the 2018 vintage wines—whose average alcohol content is slightly lower than in previous years – it is worth mentioning the fineness of red wines, with intense and bright colors, as well as harmony in the mouth. On the other hand, the Control Board’s Plenary Meeting highlighted the high quality of the white wines, especially the character and traits of Rioja’s native varieties, as they are wines of great aromatic intensity and very good structure.