As harvest gets underway in Spain, observers are predicting a reduction in quantity, while prices for bulk wine are already substantially higher than last year.
Rioja: allowed irrigation
The harvest began in mid-August with white varieties in the hotter south, including La Mancha and Andalucía.
In the north, February frosts delayed budding, and drought conditions (compounded by a very dry winter) throughout much of Spain have seen a reduction in quantity predicted to be down 15-20% compared with 2011.
Rioja has allowed selective irrigation to preserve the worst-hit vines, especially in the Rioja Baja, and there have also been attacks by red spider: the region is unlikely to match its record production of 387m kg in 2011.
Ribera del Duero, too, is predicting a crop some 15% smaller than 2011, while Navarra’s projection so far is only 6% down on 2011.
The only area predicting an increase in production is Valencia, particularly in the sweet wine areas of Alicante where the grapes ripened unexpectedly early and are showing good sugar levels.
Quality is generally predicted to be high and base prices – those given for grape must for bulk wine – which have been reported so far have reflected this.
In Albacete in Castilla-La Mancha, a litre of bulk white wine is now quoted at €0.48, as compared to €0.28 in 2011, while white wine further west in Ciudad Real is quoted as €0.43 a litre, almost double the €0.26 it cost in 2011. Bulk red wines are showing similar increases.
At this early stage there are no detailed figures from any major region, but the general increase for bulk implies a similar increment for DOP wines.
Written by John Radford