Vintage report 2018

Castilla y León 

DO Bierzo

The harvest outcome for Bierzo is radically different to 2017: production is up by 26% and the wines are described as “fresher and more Atlantic in style” with lower alcohol levels. Grape quality was described as “exceptional” by regional authorities.

Bud break took place during the first and second weeks of April which is the typical timing for this region and signalled that the vines had largely recovered well after the 2017 spring frosts.

Rain was the main concern over the growing period especially during June and July when temperatures were cooler than usual.

2018: 11.3 million kg (Mencía: 8.9 million kg)

DO Cigales

The harvest report for Cigales declares “a generous crop and excellent grape quality” this year. To the relief of bodegas and growers production has bounced back – up 40% – after severe weather impacted on the 2017 harvest.

Tempranillo is the main grape for Cigales and plays a leading role in reds and rosés. There are high hopes for structured reds with good ageing potential as well as ‘balanced, aromatic’ younger wines. Garnacha, though still only accounting for small volumes in the DO, is increasingly finding its way into rosé and single varietal wines marking a new trend.

2018: 8 million kg

DO Tierra de León

This year’s harvest has exceeded expectations with a dramatic increase after two difficult vintages. Leading grape Prieto Picudo recovered well flanked by Tempranillo. White grapes are also gaining ground here especially Albarín and Verdejo. There are high hopes for fresh, aromatic whites and rosés as well as various styles of reds.

2018: 3.8 million kg

DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora

The harvest was generally satisfactory for DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora with the exception of some areas which were affected by mildew or oidium and where hail had caused issues.

2018: 644,273 kg; 53% red (mostly Tempranillo); 47% white (Verdejo, Malvasía, Moscatel and Albillo)

DO Ribera del Duero

Ribera del Duero bounced back this year bringing in a far more generous crop after a more favourable and contrasting growing season. There was ample rain over the winter and spring and although there were some isolated cases of frost, these were minor compared to 2017. Growers were often surprised by the recovery of vineyards affected by last year’s frost; generally vines in these areas produced fruit albeit in modest quantities. Nor were there significant incidences of mildew due to rainy weather and the key ripening period leading up to harvest was also problem-free.

Temperatures were lower than usual during July but above average in September and October with fine weather for the entire harvest which was longer than usual starting in mid-September and continuing through October. Vines matured more rapidly in the case of those with smaller clusters (having been affected by the frost the previous year) while those with larger bunches matured later on the whole.

The wines from this vintage are likely to be fresher in style with excellent fruit definition and good potential for a range of red wines from lively, youthful styles to those for barrel ageing.

Álvaro Maestro, technical director at Bodegas Emilio Moro is very optimistic about this year’s wines. He said: “The 2018 vintage shows good balance, similar to the 2016 or 2014, without overly high alcohol levels or overly ripe fruit and good levels of acidity. As a result the wines have a medium to high colour content and structure with good ageing capacity and extraordinarily rich aromatic qualities.”

2018: 125 million kg; 55 million in 2017

DO Rueda

Rueda’s vineyards recovered well after some issues with frost in 2017 and very dry weather. However the weather was challenging, especially in the spring and early summer with late rains and lower temperatures slowing vine development. There were some issues with mildew and oidium in vineyards and a few hail storms. However, much better weather followed and especially over the harvest period which started, as usual, with Sauvignon Blanc grapes, followed by Verdejo.

Albert Ustrell at Bodegas Félix Sanz is pleased with the outcome for both quality and volume this year: “We got great freshness and the right levels of acidity for high quality wines… and lower alcohol levels.” Ustrell sees good prospects for Rueda wines at different quality levels and he strongly believes that 2018 will be a “good endorsement” for the smaller, quality-orientated producer while in the mainstream category he foresees good value for money.

2018: 130.5 million kg (mostly Verdejo)

DO Toro

The growing season in Toro saw more winter and spring rain than recent years and a light frost in May caused some concern. This, together with cooler temperatures than usual in July, meant that the harvest started later than usual for the Tinta de Toro variety and it was particularly long due to some areas ripening significantly earlier than others.

Fruit quality was described as “fresh and balanced” with “perfectly healthy grapes”. Early indications from the bodegas point to red wines which will be fresher and a little less structured than those of the previous vintage with “fine intense flavours and great ageing potential”.

2018: 22 million kg (mostly Tinta de Toro)