We asked one of our Spanish organic wine partners Bodegas Matarromera to report on the 2017 harvest. The winery is based in the heart of the Ribera del Duero region, but Matarromera also produces wines from Rueda and Toro D.O.s. Like many of our European winery partners, frost played a huge role in the 2017 vintage. In this case, increasing the quality while somewhat decreasing yields.
Here is the harvest report from Luis Garcia, Matarromera’s North America Export Manager.
What were the 2017 harvest dates? Was this later or earlier than usual?
In DO Rueda we started harvesting the first week of September, in DO Toro the second week of September and in DO Ribera del Duero the third week of September. This is very early in all three regions, since harvest normally takes place 10-15 days later than this year.
Weather was extremely important this year. The main reason behind the early pick up was a very dry summer with almost no rain which allowed the grapes to ripen much earlier. This reduces yield but at the same time increases the quality of the grapes. A dry summer is also good news for Spanish organic wines, since it is easier to grow vines organically when there is low humidity. The other very important weather-related issue of the year were the April frosts. After a mild winter and spring many vineyards were already sprouting by the end of April, so the severe frosts on April 26thand 27th impacted hard in the vineyards. It affected all three wine regions where we grow, but specially Ribera del Duero, where yields were reduced over a 50%. The least-affected area was Toro, since most of our vineyards are in the hills, so they were less affected by frost than the riverside vines.
What are the unique characteristics of this year’s harvest and vintage?
Rueda: Less production (dry summer and frost) but very high quality. Very good balance between alcoholic degree and acidity. Optimum sanitary conditions due to drought.
Toro: Less production mainly due to the dry summer but optimum conditions for organic vine growing for the same reason. Very good night and day temperature contrast during harvest. Good vintage to keep a moderate alcoholic level.
Ribera del Duero: Very affected by frost. Yield reduced dramatically, but the remaining grape is of superior quality. Excellent levels in alcoholic degree and acidity. Also excellent levels of polyphenols and color due to dry summer.
Did anything unusual, surprising or wonderful happen during this year’s harvest or with the 2017 Spanish organic wine vintage?
The most unusual was the April frosts, especially since they happened during sprouting, making many vines not productive this year and probably the next 2-3 years. Looking at the bright side, the quality wasn’t affected negatively, on the contrary it improved.
For us, this was a year with a lot of innovation. We used for the first time drones, both aerial and terrestrial, during harvest. Aerial drones give us a bigger picture about the vines and mainly its vegetative development, while terrestrial drones allow us to control the vines in very deep detail, letting us follow closely the evolution of the grapes and helping us determine the perfect harvest time for each plot individually. It was also the first year using our new artificial vision grape selection machine, tested during last year’s harvest but applied fully this year. That allows us to make a grape by grape selection in all our wines, not only the higher ends, as we were doing before doing the grape by grape selection by hand.
Matarromera produces Granza Spanish organic wines exclusively for Natural Merchants.
GRANZA wines are elaborated from three of Spain’s most famous indigenous grapes: Tempranillo, from D.O. Ribera del Duero, Verdejo from D.O. Rueda and Tinta de Toro from D.O. Toro. The wines are vegan-friendly, using no animal byproducts in production. The wines are also Non-GMO Project Verified.