Officially a three-star vintage. Some made better wine than others
The rain started at the end of February and there floods in the eastern part of the region. Low temperatures in March slowed the development of the vines but this at least meant that the frost of March 29th did less damage than it might have. It was worst in Logroño and along the river Ebro in the Rioja Alta and Alavesa, with temperatures down to -3°C and damage to 15-20% of the buds. Budburst was subsequently good, with 15-20 buds per vine, and flowering took place at the end of May at a time of appalling storms. The south wind then raised temperatures and by the end of June the situation was more or less back to normal. Hot weather and sufficient rain saw the grapes start to turn on the 25th July, as in a ‘normal’ year. August was very hot, with temperatures up to 35°C and some vineyards were so short of water that the vines started to shed leaves. Ripening was very slow, however, and the vintage didn’t start until the 25th September, coinciding with heavy rains from the 27th September to the 3rd November. The bulk of the crop was therefore picked in poor conditions, fuelling massive over-production: some areas at over 13,000 kg/ha against a theoretical maximum of about 8,000, resulting in dilute wines and large-scale declassification by the Consejo Regulador.
Rioja Alavesa and Alta suffered worst in the spring but least in the summer heat. Some old Garnacha vines in Rioja Baja had attacks of moth and botrytis, but this hardy effected the main crop.
Those growers who picked early and late (ether side of the rains, as late as 14th November) and those who had green-harvested earlier in the season harvested mainly healthy grape but much of the fruit gathered in the wet was of lower quality. The Consejo Regulador classified the vintage as 3/5 but a few producers reported better results. Murrieta reported 4/5 (having cut back a lot of fruit early on); Vargas reported a patchy harvest but 4/5 for the best wines; San Vicente green-harvested 30% of the crop and made better wine than most; Santiago Ijalba claims a 5/5 for wines from its own vineyards; and Viña Ijalba reported 5/5 for small-production and wines destined for ‘reserva’ status but that bulk grapes were very much inferior.