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Rioja reports ‘overall promising’ but limited volume harvest

Published:  24 October, 2017

Wines from Rioja has confirmed that volume was down for the 2017 harvest compared to the previous year, but said the grape quality was “excellent”.

Initial quality impressions of the 2017 vintage wines were described as “very promising”, with the first pressings showing “great aromas, with excellent structure, colour and polyphenols,” said Pablo Franco, technical director DOCa Rioja.

The harvest also showed "great diversity" despite being marked by the effects of frost and drought, he added.

Although down on the 2016 harvest, the 2017 volume was sufficient to maintain the Rioja wine balance - an essential requirement for the region, he said.

The provisional results of the 2017 harvest, referred to as the most “complicated and surprising” in recent years due to exceptional weather conditions, placed total production at around 359 million kilograms of grapes.

Good canopy development and “impeccable” grape quality had been fundamental in achieving the promising harvest, said Franco, in addition to “major efforts” by grape growers, wineries and an operation involving close to 200 Control Board technicians and harvest workers.

“August rains helped to maintain the ripening balance and to raise the production volume expectations after a growing cycle marked by a severe spring frost and high summer temperatures,” he said.

The Control Board will soon begin the rating process (involving detailed laboratory tests and tastings) to accurately assess the wines produced by each winery and in the region as a whole.

The Harvest Standards were approved following a consensus in July based on the result of exhaustive work by the Technical Service, employing state-of-the-art technology and an unprecedented number of vineyard inspections from early April.

For the first time in history, frost damage to vines was examined on an individual basis and three levels of maximum yields were applied depending on the extent of the damage.