Estimado amigos and Spanish wine fans,
As I have lived in Catalunya (the part of Spain lying along the northern Mediterranean coast) for close to twelve years now, I oftentimes wonder what life (and harvest!) is like in other parts of Spain. Many people across the world think a ‘vine is just a vine’ and once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, but in Spain, vine size, shape, variety and age varies greatly from region to region. Perhaps one of the most unique grape-growing regions in Spain is that of Rias Baixas, where vines grow upwards of 12 (yes, twelve!) feet tall. A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Rias Baixas and spent a couple of days filming (see attached clips) around Galicia and this year I conducted a phone interview with winemaker Isabel Salgado to see what she had to say about the 2013 harvest…
NA: Isabel, can you please give me an overview of what the 2013 harvest and/or vintage is looking like so far?
IS: The 2013 harvest passed with impressive time and it started later than in most years due to the delayed budding of the vines. The nice weather in Galicia let us achieve an optimum maturation of the grapes, with good acidity and a perfect concentration of natural sugar.
NA: When did you begin harvest and when will you finish?
IS: The 17th of September and the 4th of October, respectively
NA: Did it rain much during harvest this year? If so, what kind of impact did this have on your grape quality, if any?
IS: It only rained during the last few days of harvest and the fruit that remained left to pick is fruit we sell off to other wineries, thus none of the rained-on fruit went into making either of our Fillaboa Albariños!
NA: In your own words, how does the 2013 harvest compare to some of the best harvests in the Rias Baixas region?
IS:I think it could be one of the greatest vintages, but as the wines have just started the aging process we will have to wait and see…
NA: Can you tell me if this was a small or large harvest? – how does it compare to other vintages?
IS: We harvested a normal amount and had average yields. 2013 was balanced in terms of quantity.
NA: How does harvest in Condado do Te differ from other sub-regions of Rias Baixas? Did you notice any difference in weather, grape quality or grape production from one sub-region to another?
IS: I think Condado do Te is a privileged location with respect to grape maturation. The other sub-regions of Rias Baixas, like Salnes and el Ulla had a more complicated time in 2013 as their harvests reached into October when the rains came. I think the order of grape quality and good production is the following: Condado, Rosal, Salnes y Ulla .Then you have to look at each individual vineyard site.
NA: Do you do any ‘field blends’ of your Albariño or do you vinify each vineyard separately?
IS: I vinify each of our vineyard blocks separately.
NA: And finally, what is your favorite part about harvest time in Rias Baixas?
IS: I enjoy trying the grapes of each of our vineyard blocks, going up to the highest points of our vineyards on the back of the tractor and watching the pickers at work… To try and guess how the vintage is going to turn out…. It’s a wonderful challenge.