Good to very good vintage, with a moderate harvest securing good quality fruit and fresh, supple and crisp wines. Look out for some big, long-lived Crianzas.
A wettish winter ensured good water reserves and there was good canopy development early spring, with even and sufficient rainfall to cover bud-burst and setting. But with rainfall producing larger than normal canopies, the risk of mildew was ever-present and growers had to be vigilant in the vineyards.
Hotter weather and drought conditions followed in August, favouring ripening and berry maturation, though by late August daytime temperatures were moderate and the nights cool, bringing ripening to a more steady conclusion. Hail was recorded in several areas of Rioja Alta, but out of 2,000 hectares affected, only 300ha suffered serious damage.
The harvesting was staggered and selective – a heat blast at the beginning of September promoted uneven ripening within some vineyards, for example. Picking began with Tempranillo in Alfaro on 1 September and finished on October 27 during more unsettled weather. Mostly the grapes were in fine condition.
In Rioja the harvest was more modest than last year (416 million kilos compared to 2005’s 444.74m) – which was all to the good across the appellation. Deliberately restricted yields helped in this respect.