After a run of dry, hot years the growing season could hardly have been more different for Spain’s vineyards in 2018. The weather was cooler and wetter but less extreme – thankfully the harsh frosts and the scorching heat of the previous year were both absent. Vine development was slower and more gradual and this was a year for careful vigilance in the vineyard to keep yields in check and diseases at bay. For almost every Spanish wine region there was fine weather for the final stages of the vine cycle which extended well into the autumn, allowing the harvest to take place steadily as grapes reached optimum ripeness.
Many winemakers describe their 2018 wines as ‘more Atlantic’ with freshness, slightly lower alcohol levels and styles reminiscent of cooler, more typical years. On the whole, yields were considerably more generous than the previous year.
It was a much better year across the length and breadth of Castilla y Leόn which takes in the Duero Valley. Growers were often surprised how some vines recovered from the frosts of 2017 and produced fruit, albeit in modest quantities. Ribera del Duero’s harvest was dramatically up on 2017 while fruit quality in Bierzo, home to the Mencía grape, was described as ‘exceptional’.
In Galicia, Godello grapes showed higher acidity and good ripeness in Valdeorras as well as more generous volumes. The same variety also performed well in Monterrei where there was a record crop. There were also good volumes in Rías Baixas where Albariño wines are likely to show a more classic style from 2018.
Rainy weather was more challenging in the late spring and early summer for some areas, especially Rioja, however fine autumn weather allowed the vines to catch up here and yields exceeded early predictions as a generous crop came in.
The Garnacha variety often thrived as good weather continued through to early November. The Garnacha heartland of Campo de Borja was another region to report a record harvest and the crop was also more generous for neighbouring Calatayud, despite some challenging spring weather. Garnacha also ripened well in regions such as Priorat in Catalonia thanks to better water reserves and fresher temperatures.
Finally the extensive vineyards of Castilla-La Mancha had a good year in terms of both quality and good yields across white and red varieties after a leaner year in 2017.
From the Atlantic reds of Galicia to Tempranillo and Garnacha wines in every guise wine styles are likely to offer more restraint, elegance, balance and fresher acidity. Whites from varieties such as Albariño, Godello, Verdejo and Viura will be vibrant with the best examples showing strong varietal expression.
The total 2018 harvest: 49.2 million hl (wine and must) according to the Spanish wine industry’s OEMV. Estimate figure/January 2019
To request a full copy of the 2018 Spanish Harvest Report, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org