Late hail devastates Contino

Rioja producer Contino has lost nearly 90% of its crop after localised hail struck a number of villages in Alavesa earlier this month.

Jesus de Madrazo, winemaker at Contino

Jesus de Madrazo, winemaker at Contino

On the evening of 6 September – just 15 days before harvest was due to begin – vineyards around the villages of Lapuebla de Labarca, Oyon and Mendavia were “strongly damaged by a violent hailstorm,” according to Contino winemaker Jesuz Madrazo.

“Our losses are close to 90%,” he told the drinks business, but confirmed that harvest had begun for the remaining grapes this week.

In order to ensure “the best wine possible,” Madrazo highlighted the estate’s particularly selective approach this year, with a 25-strong team sorting bunches by hand before picking out individual berries.

In total he anticipated a final harvest of 30,000 kilos, which will produce around 20,000 bottles – considerably smaller than the Contino’s 350,000 bottle annual average.

Despite the severe challenges faced by Contino and fellow producers around Logroño, Madrazo maintained that the qualitative outlook for Rioja as a whole was extremely positive. “Harvest could be very good for all in Rioja after a very good rainy year and a dry and sunny summer,” he told db. “Let’s see how we finish.”

Rioja is not the only part of Western Europe to have experienced a challenging 2013 growing season. While some Bordeaux pundits are predicting “the worst vintage since 1991,” parts of Burgundy, the Loire and Champagne have all been affected by severe hail.

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