Without a doubt, this one will go down in history as one of the greatest Rioja vintages.
The Technical Services of the Control Board, who are in charge of coordinating the rating process, highlighted the high quality of the 2019 vintage wines.
The Control Board of the DOCa Rioja has given the official rating of ‘EXCELLENT’ to the 2019 vintage which, after completing the growth cycle with optimal grape ripening, yielded extraordinary results.
The Plenary Meeting of the Control Board of the DOCa Rioja awarded the official rating of ‘EXCELLENT’ to the 2019 vintage, a vintage that had raised high expectations and which, without a doubt, will go down in history as one of the greatest Rioja vintages.
The vineyard’s health and growth situation was excellent throughout the season; and the condition of the bunches, which were loose, well aerated and accompanied by the moderate vigor of the plants, allowed for excellent grapes. In the words of Pablo Franco, director of the Regulating Council’s Control Board: «This year was marked by stability in the evolution of the vineyard, although there were still certain local incidents, caused by meteorological phenomena, of little significance at a general level». This situation was more evident during September, when it was confirmed that the harvest was completely staggered by areas and that the good weather conditions allowed it to be very selective, obtaining moderate yields and excellent quality grapes.
The ‘EXCELLENT’ rating (in Rioja, the harvest had not been rated with an Excellent since 2011) is the conclusion of a rigorous and transparent rating procedure consisting of laboratory and sensory tests for all wines to be released on the market. The assessment starts from the fermentation tanks, where the Board’s technicians collected more than 4,500 samples that were subsequently tasted by a panel of 150 professionals. In total, 267.27 million liters of the 2019 vintage qualified for certification under the DOCa Rioja (22.11 million liters of white, 12.50 million liters of rosé and 233.08 million liters of red).
Growth cycle evolution
The season began with a low-precipitation winter. This caused a somewhat weaker than normal sprouting. Due to a cloudy April, the green stems had a lower growth during the first cycle stage, with relatively low temperatures and weak rainfall until almost the end of the month. Bunch samples per vine from the beginning of the cycle indicated a lower number in comparative terms, which led to a moderate harvest volume.
During June, rainfall intensified, recording above-average values. This rainfall increase during the flowering period generally led to a more irregular fruit set. To the already moderate fertility values and the number of bunches from which we started, there was also a lower number of berries per bunch after flowering, which favored a moderate production campaign together with an outstanding health status, key factors when it comes to achieving maximum quality.
After the harvest early ‘official closing’ on October 15th, the harvested amount for the 2019 vintage in the Rioja Qualified Denomination of Origin (DOCa.) was around 385 million kg of grapes, a very moderate harvest—20% less than in 2018. The total production of red grapes was 342 million kg, while for white grapes it was 43 million kg. Approximately 187 million kg were produced in wineries of the Rioja Alta area, 109 in the Rioja Oriental area and 89 in the Rioja Alavesa area.
Highly structured red wines with high ageing capability
When awarding the 2019 vintage the «EXCELLENT» rating, the Plenary Meeting of the Control Board highlighted the extraordinary ripening of its grapes, especially in terms of tannin, as reflected in the report drawn up by the Board’s Technical Services, which coordinate the wine rating process. A round and very silky tannin that characterized red wines since production—it is very surprising to see it appear so early, and to see wines with a high polyphenolic load like this year’s, where the total polyphenol index showed highly structured wines, with intense colors, and very suitable for ageing.
At the same time, it is worth mentioning the consolidation of lighter tones in rosé wine colors, with a predominant aromatic expression towards more floral notes. The Control Board’s director concluded by stating that: «White wines are very expressive, they stand out for their great volume in the mouth, in line with what we have seen in reds» and that «the commitment to native varieties and the great evolution in their production quality is worthy of note».
There is no doubt that, based on the behavior of the vineyard and what we have discovered about the wines, the 2019 vintage will be “The Vintage”. A vintage that reflects the true mastery of timing by the Riojan viticulturists and winemakers.
Final rating: EXCELLENT
Classified wine: 267.27 million liters.
Red: 233.08 million liters.
White: 22.11 million liters.
Rosé: 12.50 million liters.