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Harvest 2011: A Look Around Spain and Portugal

What is the harvest looking like in Spain and Portugal? Having put in a few calls from across the peninsula, the answers varied tremendously. So rather than interpret it from our standpoint, we felt it would be more appropriate to post information directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. However, if you’re a winery that wasn’t included, please send us an email, or leave a comment below, with your take on the 2011 Vintage! Thanks to everyone who submitted, and we hope this year turned out to be a great one for you!

Cheers!

Linaje Garsea - Ribera del Duero, Spain

In general, we have noticed older grapes reaching sugar levels 10-15 days earlier than normal, predicting an early year, but a very healthy, and probably alcoholic year, as in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

Following from this and tasting grapes, the first grapes entered the winery by the end of August, around the 25th and the last will be harvested by the beginning of October. It’s important that we have some clouds, no rain, which will help the grapes evolve to ripeness. Looks like it could be a very good vintage, at this point.  - Juan Garcia

Pago de Cirsus – Navarra, Spain

Harvest started at Pago de Cirsus on August 26, slightly earlier than in previous years. The first variety we picked was the Sauvignon Blanc, followed by the Chardonnay. Both are in excellent sanitary conditions. The DO Navarra estimates that the harvest will be over 74 million kilos in the region, a drop of 14.5% over last year, mainly as a result of the reduction in the number of vineyards and the dry weather conditions so far this year. We are harvesting red varieties now, starting with Merlot, followed by Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. We expect wines from the 2011 vintage to be of high quality. – Yolanda Ortiz de Arri

Clos Figueras – Priorat, Spain

The temperatures this past July were much lower than we’re accustomed to in the Priorat, however, August was quite hot. At Clos Figueras we were 10-14 days early in the grapes maturation, making very a short vacation for us this year. The white grapes (Viognier, Garnacha y Chenin Blanc) were harvested on the 19th and 25th of August, while the reds were preselected by bunch in the winery to avoid overripe grapes that might produce higher alcohol and burnt fruit flavors. The Syrah was harvested from the 26th to the 31st of August, followed by the Garnacha on September 4th through the 16th. – Anna Cannan

Cava Josep M Ferret Guasch – Cava & Priorat, Spain

The 2011 harvest in both DO Cava and DO Penedès is pretty good. In our case, the Sauvignon Blanc that we harvested was at its optimal point of maturation, showing good structure and acidity. Considering that rain that we had during the harvest, we fortunately didn’t lose much alcohol, making for a pretty decent harvest. - Josep Mª Ferret Guasch

Vinos Ambiz – Madrid, Spain

Fabio has been publishing a play by play of the harvest on his website, so make sure to take a peek. Here are some tidbits from a recent post.

Last Saturday (17th) and Sunday (18th) we harvested all grapes from our new vineyard in Villarejo de Salvanés (Spain). Incredibly, and in contrast to all expectations, we managed to pick all the grapes and we don’t have to go back another day to finish off. We had calculated at least 4 days of picking, but we did it in only 2 days. Two reasons for this, I think: Firstly, we had an amazing turnout of volunteers to help us pick: friends, friends of friends, and consumers who buy our wines, etc. On Sunday there were 16 of us! Secondly, I think that the vineyard is actually less than a hectare, which is the size we had just assumed it was, for some reason or other! I’ll have to check it out on SigPac as soon as I can. This is a free online application by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture. It’s a bit like Google Maps, but focussed on agriculture, ie it shows the type of crops planted, the boundaries of each individual plot, easy-to-use tools for measuring distances and areas, etc.

No rabbits here in this vineyard thankfully, like in Carabaña (see this post from last week), where they ate a significant percentage of our grapes! I think this is because this vineyard in Villarejo is completely surrounded by other vineyards and olive groves, whereas in Carabaña, the vineyard is surrounded by grassland and low hills, which seems to be more rabbit-friendly territory. Some of the grapes we harvested were affected by oidium or mildew, which appeared suddenly over the last two weeks. This was our fault entirely because earlier this year (in Spring – early Summer) we decided not to spray any sulphur powder, because the vines and grapes looked so healthy and vigorous. I think maybe a preventive powdering will be required next year. - Fabio Bartolomei

Finca Sandoval – Manchuela, Spain

This was the earliest harvest ever in Manchuela, a season-end heatwave made the grapes shrivel fast! We started for the first time in August: August 29th for Bobal, followed by Syrah, and finishing them both by September 12th, a very healthy and promising vintage. Touriga nacional was picked on September 15th, but we had to wait longer for the Garnacha, Garnacha Tintorera and Monastrell, in hopes that the high altitude vineyards will minimize the heat effect. – Víctor de la Serna

Bodegas Chivite  - Navarra, Spain

Harvest 2011 is looking good, for our vineyards in the North of Navarra at the Arinzano estate we have picked most of our Chardonnay already and started on the Tempranillo around the outer edges of the estate. The grapes for our Gran Vino de Pago de Arinzano will no doubt be picked in the next week or so. We had a chance to taste the Tempranillo grapes from our “home” vineyards surrounding the winery and they were delicious, ripe and juicy with black fruit character. Overall the yields will be down this year but the quality will be very good, with more concentrated fruit character. This will be a vintage to look out for in the future! – Jo Thompson

United Wineries – Spain

Generally, the quality of the 2011 vintage has been excellent. Both winter and spring were kind to us, allowing the vineyards to evolve at their optimal rate, except for a few zones that were hit hard by hail storms such as Utiel y Requena. By summer, the weather was incredibly hot and dry, whereby the grapes ripened quickly and made for a smaller harvest. However, the grapes themselves matured well, in good condition and the fruit showed impressive concentration and flavor in the younger wines. The whites and rose grapes were, quite early in the harvest, relatively low alcohol and good fruit. – Carmelo Angulo, Chief winemaker for Lagunilla and Berberana

Cortes de Cima – Alentejo, Portugal

5th August was a record early harvest start at Cortes de Cima, with the first lot of Gouveio grapes arriving at the winery. (gallery above)

This year for the first time, the largest portion of our white grapes come from our new Alentejan coastal vineyards which we started planting in 2008, near Vila Nova de Milfontes, 4km from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s exciting for us to see the impact that the cooler Alentejan coastal climate has had on these white varieties. It is easy to see the coastal climate reflected in the good flavors, acid and freshness of the white juices now fermenting away in the winery.

Spring was wet and warm (“tropical”) and is being blamed generally throughout Alentejo for a reduction in quantity due to attacks of mildew in some areas. The summer growing season was warm, without any great heat spikes, and has continued warm and dry throughout the harvest months – great weather for the grapes to reach optimum phenolic maturation.

As we approach our final weeks of harvest of Vintage 2011, prospects look very promising for a good to excellent vintage. Of the grapes already picked, Syrah and Touriga Nacional are looking best, while Aragonez is less good this year. – Carrie Jorgenson (thanks to Carrie for the great harvest photos!)

Symington Family Estates – Douro, Portugal

It has been a challenging growing season in the Douro. After a “changeable” March, the unseasonably hot months of April and May sent vine development racing ahead of schedule. June brought damaging meteorological events: localised hail in the Douro Superior, a lightning strike which scorched some vines in the Cima Corgo, and a single weekend of 40º+ C which caused sunburn in susceptible grapes, notably Tinta Barroca, across the Douro. July and August were cool, and rainfall has been less than average every month through July.

But after useful amounts of rain in late August and early September, Charles Symington, head winemaker, decided to push back the start of harvest to near normal dates for SFE’s port-producing vineyards across the region. Harvest began the week of 12 September under ideal conditions of clear, hot, sunny weather which is holding. Initially high baumés are coming back from their post-rainfall dips, phenolic maturity is progressing well, and we expect to harvest each of our unique Douro grape varietals at near perfect levels of ripeness. According to Charles “We are very well placed for an excellent vintage, with average to low yields. – Cynthia Jenson

Quinta do Gomariz - Vinho Verde, Portugal

2011 was a pretty cool and moderate year regarding the quantity of rain. In our sub-region (Ave) in the middle of July the plans were to harvest about 2 weeks earlier, comparing with 2010. But, then in August we had 2 weeks of some rain, and we had to delay the harvest in 2 weeks. We had to control the botrytis, which we manage to do, and our analysis tell us that the sugar and acidity content are the normal for our grape varieties. So we are expecting again a very good year, with very aromatic and fresh wines. – Vítor Mendes

  • http://www.thewinedetective.co.uk Sarah

    In Alentejo now visiting L’AND Vineyards and, speaking with Paulo Laureano consultant winemaker and winemaker Patricia Ramos they confim swingeing yield reductions on account of spring rains and disease pressure, so quantity low but plenty of optimism about quality/. 

    • Gabriella Opaz

      Thanks for sharing Sarah!

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  • http://vinosambiz.blogspot.com Fabio (Vinos Ambiz)

    Thanks for publishing all those harvest reports. It was really interesting to see how things went in other regions of Spain and Portugal.
    Thanks also for Lusitanianizing (or Iberianizing) the name of Vinos Ambiz, which is of course far too provincial! We were actually thinking of doing it once we achieve total domination of the Iberian peninsula!
    And thanks also for associating us with that photo of the Terminator-esque automated grape sampling device. We were thinking of getting some, as they will be really useful for the execution of our Master Plan for Iberian Domination.
    Cheers, Salud, Saúde

  • http://twitter.com/Taurus1067 Tarcisio Costa

    Great article about the 2011 harvest in Spain and Portugal!