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2003 vintage guide for Spain Rioja

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Mixed bag, though better producers created powerful, intense and balanced wines

Weather Conditions

The first part of the growing cycle was dominated by rain and snow which helped to build up the water table. Absence of spring frosts and excellent bud burst (almost 100%) provided good clusters (12 – 17 per vine). Although vineyards were not affected by frost and wind, heavy rain caused flooding in vineyards close to river banks. The most significant storms were recorded in the Najerilla Valley on 7 July and in Rioja Baja on 28 August. Lush canopies and high number of clusters by early July demanded more water than usual but these needs were balanced in most cases by the water table which had been replenished during the growing season to provide these resources.
Veraison began mid July ahead of schedule. The vineyards were well developed and in a healthy state and production forecasts at this time looked promising.
At the end of July and during the first half of August, this took a dramatic turn with lack of rain and unusually high temperatures but well managed goblet pruned vines showed little stress. Vineyard conditions improved significantly after 15 August and into the first week of September assisted by irregular, intermittent rainfall and more moderate temperatures. Plant growth improved and was generally in a state of good health despite small outbreaks of botrytis.
When the weather stabilised and temperatures rose late September, sugar and polyphenol development improved but staggered harvesting was required. The first grapes to be picked were from vineyards showing reduced berry size with high potential alcohol levels and low colour parameters. After this, harvesting stabilised and was less hurried with moderate alcohol levels and acceptable polyphenol rates. By mid October, 90% of all grapes were picked before finally concluding on 28 October in Cuzcurrita in Rioja Alta.

Best Appellations

Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja

Best Producers

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