27th January, 2016 by Rupert Millar
The 2015 vintage in Spain looks set to be a “record year” in both quality and quantity but “intense” heat in some areas provided challenges to overcome.
According to Wines of Spain’s vintage report, July was the hottest month of the year before the arrival of cooler weather in August.
Harvest dates were somewhat in advance of previous years (by a week or so) but the warm, dry weather throughout 2015 kept vineyard diseases at bay and allowed the crop to be brought in in excellent health.
In some areas “intense heat” was reported to have brought certain “challenges” and how the vines coped depended on such factors as altitude, vine age, exposure, soil type and variety. In Ribera del Duero it was described as the “hottest and driest year for decades”.
The report added: “There is plenty of talk of high quality from this vintage – whites with intense flavours and aromas and reds with great complexity and good ageing potential.”
Peter Sisseck at Dominio de Pingus said: “I expect 2015 to be a year where again the region’s wines will be very varied. Some wines will be truly great,” while Julio Sánez, head oenologist for the La Rioja Alta group apparently believes 2015 could be one of the best vintages the DO has ever produced.
The 2015 harvest is expected to reach 40-42 million hectolitres, the crop in many areas was larger than in 2014 but in other areas, such as Toro, lack of rainfall led to a much reduced crop.
In Toro there was only 127mm of precipitation between October 2014 and March 2015 and the final crop was just 18m kg. A complete lack of fungal disease led to excellent quality, “concentrated flavours and high phenolic ripeness” said the regional authority.
In Rioja the Consejo Regulador reported: “Quality was particularly outstanding in vineyards located in cooler areas with moderate vigour and limited production, often yielding considerably less than the maximum allowable kg/ha rates. Lower berry weight due to a dry spell during the last part of the growing cycle also had a very positive impact with a better skin-to-pulp ratio – a key quality factor.”
Mayte Calvo, oenologist at Barón de Ley, called 2015 a “record vintage” in both quality and quantity and that it was reminiscent of the 2001 and 2011 vintages.