Vineyard Mendiguerra at Bodega Miguel Merino
We just received a harvest report from Bodega Miguel Merino in Briones, La Rioja Alta, along with these stunning photographs! Enjoy!
Briones, La Rioja Alta 20 October 2011
After a mild winter with little snow, a spring of little rain and warm temperatures in May and most of June, we had an unusual summer with below average temperatures in July and early August; while the second half of August was really warm and September started very hot and dry, without a drop of rain.
El Rincon Terroir
Around the 20th of September, we started the checking the vineyards closely, and we were very pleased with their healthy state, but a little worried about the advanced sugar ripeness of the grapes and their not so advanced phenolic ripeness. After such a long dry period, we were also concerned that the leaves could start “browning and flying off” and that, if there was intense rain, the grapes could lose, and not recover, their concentration.
However the last week of September was perfect: sunny, not-too-warm days and cool nights that caused the phenolic ripeness to catch up daily with the level of sugar ripeness.
We started picking the first grapes early in the morning of October 1st, a week earlier than the previous year. The first vineyard to be harvested was Mendigüerra (planted in 1931, with low yields of beautiful fruit). On Sunday, October 2nd we continued the “vendimia” in La Loma (1946), and kept picking the following days by level of ripeness, which happened to coincide with the age of the vines, the last vineyards being La Quinta Cruz (Mazuelo grapes, 1981) and El Rincón (Tempranillo, 1998).
As you probably know, all of our grapes come from our town, Briones, and are hand picked and placed in cases, then quickly transported to our sorting table. There we separate the really bad (hell, we call it) from the doubtful bunches, allowing only the perfect grapes to pass the selection. This year there were no bad bunches and the doubtful have also been few; most of the grapes that were rejected came from too thick bunches, or were grapes from the shoulders that were overripe and had too much sugar. We always strive for balanced, and not for alcoholic, wines.
It's been over ten years now that we have been using only indigenous yeasts. “Just let the wine happen,” we say, which allows for the expression of the personalities of our wines. The fermentations have gone very well, though for a couple of nights we had to fight, hose in hand, with the temperatures, as some of the yeasts were a little too wild, but the rest have evolved and finished nicely.
Sorting table with Graham
It is still too soon to tell, but the quality should be somewhere between quite good and really great. We shall keep you informed. Quantity has been a bit short, but we cannot complain; we cannot have it all.
We look forward to tasting the wines with you in the near future.