Price rises expected for Spain's 2017 vintage

A leading Spanish wine producer has said price rises are inevitable for the latest vintage, following a year that saw drought, frost and heatwaves.

Bodegas Ramon Bilbao said the 2017 vintage is one of the best in quality terms in recent years, but the varied weather conditions throughout the year means low volumes – and therefore price rises – are inevitable.

Ceo and head winemaker, Rodolfo Bastida, said: “The good health of the vines and grapes at harvest-time means we will see a higher-quality year for Spanish wines. On de-vatting our fruit in both Rioja and Rueda, the grapes are showing wonderful aromas, structure, colour and polyphenols. The reasons for this is the vintage conditions but the knock-on effect is lower volume, which will have to mean price rises in our commercial markets.”

Bastida said severe droughts, bitter frosts, high temperatures and early picking has led to a volume decrease of around 25% in both Rioja and Rueda, where Ramon Bilbao makes its white wines, in turn adding around E0.50 per kilogram to the price of grapes when compared with last year.

The producer appointed Enotria&Coe as its UK distributor earlier this year and the company, which was established in Haro in 1924, sources grapes from 180 hectares of owned vineyards, with access to a further 900 hectares via long-term grower contracts. In 2015, the producer bought what it describes as a “dream parcel” of vines in the Yerga mountain range in Rioja Baja: the 85-hectare Lalomba vineyard.

Bastida added: “This has been one of the warmest harvests in the last ten years, and temperatures have been the outstanding feature of the vintage. A mild autumn was followed by a normal winter, but spring began with higher temperatures – up to 27C in March. This together with the spring rains, brought the vegetative cycle forward by up to 20 days.

“The night of April 28th will be long remembered by many winegrowers as when some of the most severe frosts in history were recorded, with temperatures falling as low as 3.3C below zero in the Haro region. This black frost obliterated a high percentage of European vineyards, leaving Rioja with 30% of its normal output.

“A similarly warm summer led to water stress in the period preceding the harvest, which was mitigated by rainfall in late August.

“The end result of all this is small, yet highly concentrated clusters and healthy grapes, because the day, warm conditions meant disease did not develop.

“Harvest started on August 20th for Sauvignon Blanc, with Verdejo just six days later. The aromatic profile is faithful to both varieties. There are clear fresh, herbal and exotic hues in the Sauvignon Blanc and fresh stone fruit, citrus fruits and fennel in the Verdejo fermentations.”

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