Rioja and Ribera del Duero
2018 was officially classified as ‘good’ (not top rank) in Rioja, with lower than average alcohol levels, and higher than average yields. It was a similar story in Ribera del Duero, where cooler conditions created a fresher and lighter style of red.
One of the toughest years in living memory, with the frost and drought reducing yields by 25% at least. What was left has resulted in wines with elevated alcohol, tannin and extraction. Approach with caution.
Unlike Catalunya, Rioja enjoyed an abundant harvest – the largest since 2005, and many producers had to discard fruit to meet the permitted yield. Quality is excellent, with modest alcohol, full ripeness, relatively light tannins, good aromatic range and no bitterness. Certainly the best recent vintage. In Ribera del Duero, the outlook is also positive, with quality as good as the strong 2015 vintage.
Ribera was hot and dry in 2015. Old vines did well while younger vines struggled. Volume was lower than in 2014 by up to one third. Low nitrogen levels led to some struggling ferments, but the flavour ripeness is very high, with soft tannins and high potential alcohol The finished articles have turned out to be much better than was perhaps expected. Alcohol will also be higher than usual in Rioja, again with powerful concentration and richness. A short, early harvest reflected the ripeness of the crop. Berries were small across the region, with the higher, cooler vineyards of Rioja showing especially high quality.
The official report from Rioja describes the 2014 harvest as improved in quality and quantity compared to 2013, though they acknowledge some grey rot affected the final week of harvest.In Ribera del Duero, it was fresh and lovely
Despite a cool, wet start to the year, a long dry summer in Ribera del Duero heralded full fruit ripeness at harvest, with below average temperatures promising fine flavour development. Frequent bouts of wet weather in Rioja, together with the cold spring, resulted in some uneven ripening and a delayed harvest that slipped into November in some parts, yet yields here were slightly up on 2012 and producers are optimistic.
A weird year of weather in Spain. It was the fifth consecutive small vintage, thanks in large part to very dry conditions. The resultant small berries harvested in Rioja are likely to make wines of great concentration and high tannin, but of limited ageability. The Ribera del Duero crop was also shrunk by drought but producers there are a little more optimistic about eventual quality.
Hot and heat-stressed for the vines in Rioja with lower acidity than average but powerful, concentrated wines of good quality. Similarly hot in Ribera del Duero, giving very powerful intensity and smooth, soft tannins.
Exceptional for Ribera del Duero with no excessive weather patterns, uniform ripeness and quality as promising as 2004. Good quality in Rioja also, considered better than 2009.
Very hot conditions gave average temperatures above the infamous 2003 vintage. However, timely rains in Rioja and Ribera del Duero relieved the vines and rescued the vintage. Very good quality.
Very good quality for Rioja, with favourable weather throughout autumn. In Ribera del Duero, temperatures were cooler than normal, giving a slow, balanced ripening process and elegant wines as a result.
After a miserable summer, frost on 24 September decimated the crop from many young Ribera del Duero vineyards. Most grapes struggled to ripen but late pickers were rewarded. Not a stellar year though.
Some spring hail in Rioja. Hot summer with some drought stress. Has not lived up to the two previous vintages.
Another good vintage with high temperatures but with (just) enough rain.
Very good year, especially for Rioja, with wines that should mostly be drunk before their 20th birthday.
Small, early, drought-plagued harvest of often unbalanced wines.
Exceptionally cold winter and spring was followed by nasty wet weather during summer – disastrous for both quality and quantity. Rain persisted even during harvest. Truly a severe test for both regions.
Smaller-than-usual crop because of spring frosts but distinctly superior quality accentuated in some cases by further deliberate crop thinning. Some very fine wines that are maturing magnificently – if you can find them!
Record crop levels and extremely variable quality with exceptionally high summer temperatures and in many cases a lack of concentration. Some very good wines from Ribera del Duero though.
April frost in Rioja delayed ripening of grapes that suffered thanks to summer rains. Better quality in Ribera del Duero, however, although harvest rain reduced acidity. Good quality but not quite as good as 1998.
Despite spring frosts, yields were still too high to ripen some grapes sufficiently in Ribera del Duero. Quantity was also Rioja’s strong suit.
Rain at harvest. Not glorious.
Particularly successful in Ribera del Duero, where ripe, relatively friendly wines were made.
Another frost-shrunk crop in Ribera del Duero, although the grapes were riper and probably better balanced than in 1994. Rioja's bodegas, on the other hand, were swollen by an enormous harvest of ripe, healthy grapes.
Quality isn't a problem but quantity is after spring frosts and summer drought. Some very nice wines indeed.
Heavy harvest rains again. Good but not great seems the rule.
This looked good until prolonged rains, which diluted the grapes and encouraged rot. Early maturing. Should have been drunk.
An excellent year in Spain, only a small crop but impressive weight and structure.
Another large and fine quality crop in all areas.
Plenty of rich and charming wines from both regions.
Good in Rioja but outshone by Riberas of complexity and power.
A very great year, the best since 1970, with plenty of Reserva wines.