First impressions of the 2019 Vintage
We finished harvesting on September 24th, the last grapes picked our centenary Verdeja, and from a technical standpoint our fruit was exceptionally healthy.
Unfortunately, however, given such sparse rainfall during the vegetative cycle, production was 30 to 40% down on last year.
Oenologist Richard says ‘we decided to start the harvest early in order to capitalize on the green freshness of our fruit, and truly encapsulate the Verdeja variety’s very particular punch`. We are, it must be said, invariably one of the first wineries in this region to harvest each year, as we like vivid, tasty wines that not only have pronounced varietal character but balanced and refreshing acidity.
It is meantime abundantly clear that climate change is taking its toll, and therefore this time round the Sanz brothers opted to pick even earlier than usual. ‘Given the heat and the drought’, continues Richard ‘we felt that unless we harvested really early, the acidity levels would be quite hopeless´.
Further, neither was ripening 100% homogenous, specifically because of such continuingly oscillating climatic conditions. ‘There were completely abnormal days,’ continues Richard, ’when our plants would suddenly completely seize up and then shortly afterwards the potential alcohol levels would leap off the scale thanks to major bursts of extreme heat’. This of course necessitated major hands-on work in the vineyards with a major eye on the vagaries of the weather in order to pre-empt possible problems.
The heavens did finally open in mid-September but had zero effect on our grapes, as by then we’d practically finished the vintage.
By then the all-important spontaneous fermentations that play such an important part in the way we make our wines – for we rely purely on the naturally occurring yeast cells present on the skins of our fruit (and these spring into action when they have a mind to!) – were in some instances already under way and at the time of writing ‘things are going swingingly’.
Given the way we make it, we already know that the first of our new wines to be available will be our Dulce Menade, as we arrest fermentation by radically lowering the temperature of the exterior cold water conduits of our steel fermenters; and we can also promise that the finished wine promises to be spectacular given even lower yields than usual (some 3000 kilos per hectare).
‘Our impression so far,’ concludes Richard, ‘is that this year we have surprisingly fresh and aromatic musts; and though it’s altogether too early to make cast iron pronouncements our gut feeling is that this year’s wines will be satisfyingly full flavoured and vinous with major mouth feel . Their alcohol levels will be ‘normal’ (most probably between 12 and 12.5%) and thus far both pH and acidity levels are looking nicely balanced’.
Clandestino Tinto and our experimental varieties
Over in Toro, the source of the Tempranillo that constitutes our Clandestino Tinto, the crop was also a very healthy one though achieving the phenolic maturation that we like has proved quite a challenge given how tricky it proved deciding when best to pick.
As regards the white varieties that we’re experimenting with, here we are extremely pleased with both the potential alcohol and acidity levels and the as yet unspecified possibilities that we´re playing with (!) will shortly be moving to French foudres to see how they behave there.