HARVEST REPORT 2016: SUCCESS FOR ARAEX WINEGROWERS
The 2016 harvest has been a late one, defined by the drought and high temperatures recorded in summer, but following favourable climatology conditions in September and October, which have made it possible to maintain exceptional conditions and proceed with a selective harvest once the grapes had reached perfect ripeness in each of the vineyard’s plots. The alcoholic strengths have been lower than in the past two years and strong acidity and colour levels have been recorded. The year has been particularly warm, but accompanied by extensive moisture in the soil following the rain that fell in the cold winter months. These conditions have resulted in a wonderful harvest with an excellent quality in terms of tannins and sugar. One of the best vintages in living memory in Rioja Alavesa.
The 2016 harvest has been an overwhelming success. The forecast of starting the harvest at the end of September were exceeded, as work began on 17 September. After an exceedingly rainy winter, summer was very dry and hot, with high temperatures recorded. The grapes collected were in excellent health, with a high alcoholic strength and balanced acidity. Average yield per hectare was low.
Balance is the best word to describe the grape cycle in 2016. Abundant rainfall offset the water deficit of the previous year, which has resulted in grapes with a higher level of acidity, a more balanced pH, smoother tannins and greater fruitiness and complexity. Budding was very slow and homogeneous throughout all the estates owned by Bodegas Sobreño in D.O Toro. The bunches are average in size, but with open and loose grapes. All fieldwork has been meticulous, starting with pre-harvest tasks such as pruning, green pruning, etc. with a view to obtaining grapes of an extraordinary quality, as was the case in previous campaigns.
RIBERA DEL DUERO
A prematurely cold and dry winter, with almost no snow, followed by a very rainy spring meant that we started summer with abundant soil water reserves. Budding around the normal dates, followed by a very benign period at the end of spring/start of summer resulted in a phenological advancement of around one week, although excessive heat was recorded in July and August. The harvest began one week later than the previous year, the warmest vintage in recent decades. As a result of all of the above factors, the grapes were balanced, with ripe tannins and excellent freshness. And so, on 6 October, harvest work began on the first tempranillos. Following a cold pre-fermentation maceration (at around 8 oC) lasting between 5 and 10 days, depending on the plot, fermentation was fast and efficient using native yeasts. Once the fermentation process was complete, post-fermentation macerations took place over several days, between 5 and 15 days depending on the origins of the grape and their physical-chemical characteristics.
The 2016 harvest was affected by the extreme climatology conditions, involving a significant lack of rainfall in the main regions of Penedès, resulting in widespread low yield and high quality. The year has been defined by the drought, which began in winter and gradually intensified in the summer months despite weak rainfall and late hail that affected the yield of certain later varieties. The 2016 cava harvest has been noteworthy on account of its short duration given the weak rainfall during the growing cycle and the high temperatures recorded, which have resulted in a moderate yield. Given the drought, the growth of the grapes was stalled. Nonetheless, the health of the grapes has been excellent, with no diseases recorded.
The 2016 vintage began with a drier, warmer winter than normal; however, March and April were colder and wetter, with limited hours of sunlight, meaning that the vines budded at around the same time as normal. This phase was dominated by moderate temperatures and a rainy spring. Vines budded with abundant numbers of bunches. Summer was slightly warmer and drier than normal, which limited the development of the fruit and resulted in a final size that was much smaller than normal. The ripening period was affected by a particularly intense heat wave during the end of August/start of September. This phenomenon affected the different varieties in different ways, as although the accumulation of sugar in earlier varieties was accelerated, the opposite was true of later varieties, as the plant’s photosynthetic activity was limited. Otherwise, the ripening and harvesting period elapsed with no rainfall, generating a satisfactory level of health and average yields compared to recent years.
Climate: The differences between the rain-fed and irrigated vineyards have been significant, not only in terms of greater or poorer yields, but as the persistence of the stifling heat over the long, never-ending summer has resulted in differences in alcoholic and phenolic maturity and a delay of between 15 and 30 days in the harvest date (28/9/2016 start date) compared to the previous campaign.
Soil: alluvial terraces rich in calcium and magnesium, stony with good drainage and ventilation. They are, what we refer to as, gravelly soils.
Harvest: started on 28 September and ended 12 days later. The harvest is scheduled based on the maturity of each of the plots, it occurs quickly and at night (to avoid high temperatures and oxidation).
On 21 October, we completed the collection of grapes produced by our vineyards in 2016. In terms of weather conditions, the year has been marked by a moderate winter, which was somewhat drier than normal; this phenomenon led to the vines budding earlier than normal. The dry, moderate spring facilitated an excellent fruit set, which reached the end of the growing cycle with wonderful health in the bunches, thanks to the lack of rainfall during summer; such was the case that the vines started to show symptoms of drought, which were intensified by a series of heat waves, with particularly high temperatures for our region.
The harvest ran smoothly as the perfect health and strong ripeness of the bunches allowed us to work with absolute peace of mind. The yield was good in terms of quantity and the ripeness and acidity found in the grapes were ideal for producing our aged wines.
The harvest at Finca Bolandín de Pago de Cirsus started this year on 1 September and ended on 26 October. The average yield per hectare was 6300 kg/ha maximum, slightly lower than last year, but not the maximum in terms of production, as based on our quality standards, we never place quantity before quality. The year has been dry and as a result, throughout the entire growing season, irrigation management throughout the estate has been essential, allowing the grape to ripen gradually, thus guaranteeing the balance between sugars and acidity. In 2016, we can attest to the heath, ripeness and concentration of our grapes, which have made it possible to obtain Pago de Cirsus wines of the highest quality, fulfilling the objectives set based on the proper ripening of our grapes.
|September – November||Average Temperature ºC||Average Rainfall litres/month||Average Sunlight hours/month|
|Ribera del Duero||13.4||56||186|
|Navarra- Finca Bolandín||17.9||70||166|