Splendid year with intense, slow maturing wines of great colour and depth of flavour
This was the ‘Aaah!’ vintage, after three years of drought and indifferent quality, nature relented and provided one of the best vintages of the century (compared by many producers with the legendary 1964). The winter was warmer than usual – just what the growers had been looking for, as the vines budded early. April was a crucial month as frost took 10-30% of the buds, slowing down the development in the vineyard. However, the grapes had set well by mid-June – particularly Garnacha and Tempranillo – which is much earlier than normal. The summer was good without excessive heat, dry enough to avoid fungal problems and scattered storms provided just enough water for the development of the grapes. For the first time in 20 years the vintage began in Rioja Baja on the 1st September and in the highlands between 6th and 10th. By 18th September everyone was picking, and the grapes showed tremendous ripeness, colour and extract. This was a truly great vintage in the making, although (or perhaps because) it was relatively low in quantity.
All three produced excellent grapes.
All the top growers reported a first-class harvest, with classic Reserva wines prominent and Gran Reserva averaged 8% against an annual figure of less than 7%. Top Gran Reservas were made by Campillo (35% of production), Faustino (24%) and Montecillo (25%); El Coto, Salceda, and Bilbaínas made 15%, and even Contino (who’ve made Gran Reserva in only three years since their foundation in 1974) made one in 1994.