2010 Harvest: Portugal and Spain

For the record, harvest 2010 is now officially in the books.  By now, the perennial holdouts for the title of last grape picked (a.k.a. dessert wines) have already been carefully secured, even in the most obscure appellations.  It’s a safe bet that in the Niagara Peninsula for example, the very last row of grapes destined for Canadian Ice Wine (or German Eiswein from the Mosel for that matter) are picked, crushed, and fermented.  It’s now left to the talents of the winemakers to make the most out of what Mother Nature has provided.

At this juncture, it would be premature to proclaim victory or admit defeat in any winery’s case.  Even in tough vintages individual producers can excel.  Nonetheless, certain generalizations regarding the outlook for this vintage can be made.

And so here’s the scoop on Portugal and Spain in 2010. The initial assessment of the vintage as a whole is that it may be very good for both.

Portugal’s most famous DOC, the Douro, overcame a damp winter deluge courtesy of a very hot and dry summer.  The winter rain was actually beneficial as it came on the heels of a three-year drought.  Going into 2010, the grape vines were unduly stressed and the above average rainfall allowed them to reset.  July and August was completely devoid of precipitation.  This was followed by a mild albeit occasionally moist September and the few lingering showers delayed part of the harvest.  The area’s top grape, Touriga Nacional, did particularly well and produced musts with very good sugar levels, colors and aromas.  The early prediction in the Porto DOC is that this may not be a declared vintage port year but may be good enough to produce some excellent Single Quinta ports.  Only time will tell.

In the top appellations of Spain, all concerned are equally pleased with the results of their harvests.  Northern Spain had a wet and cold winter, but warm summer days combined with cool nights to positive results. Preliminary reports indicate prospective wines with balance and ripeness.  It appears that quality of the Tempranillo picked in Rioja and Ribera del Duero was high with the berries featuring fresh acidities.  The only bad news was that the harvest was small; a result of spring rains during flowering reducing grape yields.  The white wine regions of Rueda and Rias Baixas also seemed to fair well.  Here too ripe, clean and healthy grapes were picked under optimal conditions.

We won’t know precisely how good the wines of 2010 will be in Iberia for several months but the buzz right now is noteworthy.  Stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated.

Jim Greeley, Wine Supervisor, SW Florida

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