More rain was welcome in the Catalan regions but the intensity took its toll. Falset in Montsant had 622mm of rain in 2020 compared to 194mm in 2019. Here and elsewhere mildew was a common problem and responsible for significant losses. It was the main cause of low yields in Montsant where the crop was the smallest to date while Priorat’s crop was also significantly lower than 2019.
Fredi Torres is based at Gratallops in both Priorat and Montsant. “Montsant is flatter and the soils retain water more than those of Priorat which is more protected. The conditions were worse for Montsant,” he said. Torres described summer in the area as “perfect – temperatures were lower [than 2019] and water reserves helped. 2019 was a great vintage but 2020 is fresher, there is more acidity and really good balance. I think it will be better for ageing.” Of the two leading grapes, Garnacha and Cariñena, the former responded better to the conditions while Cariñena was “more sensitive”. “Garnacha is perfect for the extreme Mediterranean climate,” he concluded.
For the wider DO Catalunya, yields were also modest after a series of challenges throughout the growing season. Mildew made life particularly difficult for organic production while early varieties in inland areas fell victim to spring frosts in some cases and the summer drought caused problems for vineyards with sandy soils and poor water retention. Yields across all red varieties were down significantly, especially Merlot and Tempranillo while white varieties fared better, especially local varieties such as Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo (Viura) and Parellada, a late variety which benefited from rainfall on 18-19 September.
Despite low yields, fruit quality was good with balanced alcohol and acidity and generous fruit character. The 2020 vintage also marked a first for the Xarel.lo Rosado grape variety which is now one of the wide variety of grapes grown in Catalunya.
For growers in Mayorca (DO Binissalem) there was some concern over mildew due to rain in May and June and fairly typical high temperatures at the end of June and July respectively led to a prompt start to the harvest with the local red variety Mantonegro representing almost half the crop this year.
In Valencia higher rainfall was welcome after the extremely dry conditions of recent years. There was favourable weather over the harvest period resulting in good yields, around 5% higher than 2019, and “exceptional quality”.
The case was very similar for Jumilla where the local Monastrell grape, a late variety, was well-suited to the weather over the growing period. Here yields were around 15% up on 2019 which led to a higher proportion of high-yielding vineyards not making the grade for DO Jumilla wines this year. The quality of the grapes was described as “magnificent” – for many this harvest was the best for many years.
Catalunya: 32.3 million kg.
Montsant: 5.5 million kg
Priorat: 4.1 million kg
Binissalem (Mayorca): 1 million kg, 26% less than 2019. Local varieties such as the red Callet fared better.
Valencia: 70 million kg (estimate)
Jumilla: yields were generous; total crop figure unavailable for this report (see above)
For Jerez the 2020 harvest was low-yielding and a little lower than last year which was also modest. This was due to a very dry autumn and winter before abundant spring rains. Here too growers had to work intensely in the vineyard against mildew and oidium. Vine development continued to advance rapidly in the early part of summer which featured “extremely hot weather” and it was noted that fruit ripeness could vary quite significantly, even in the same plot. The first Palomino grapes were gathered in the Macharnudo area on August 5th with cooler temperatures keeping alcohol to favourable levels as the month progressed.
Jerez: 53.4 million kg
Text: Patricia Langton