DO Leon reaches 3.1 million kilos of grapes of exceptional quality in a harvest that broke forecasts
The historic drought and the very high summer temperatures conditioned the vegetative process and led to fears of a loss of production even below that of the previous season, which was finally exceeded by 18%.
The white Albarín grape reached a new production record, with 437,078 kilos harvested, although the red Prieto Picudo grape totaled 2,372,391 and this year accounted for more than 77% of the volume of grapes processed by the wineries.
The white and rosé wines will be highly aromatic, fresh and very fruity, and the red wines will be very varietal, with high expressiveness and special aptitudes also for barrel aging and even long aging.
Start date: September 4
End date: October 10
Registered area: 1,225 hectares
Number of plots: 630
Number of registered winegrowers: 224
Number of wineries registered: 39
|VARIETIES||COLLECTED GRAPES (kilos)|
|main ink 1: Prieto Picudo||2,372,391|
|Main variety ink 2: Mencía||24,433|
|Authorized variety ink 1: Tempranillo||92.302|
|Authorized variety ink 2: Garnacha||–|
|Main white variety 1: Albarín||437.078|
|Main white variety 2: Verdejo||134,380|
|Main white variety 3: Godello||11,550|
The Denomination of Origin León broke the gloomy forecasts of late August, when production was even forecast to be lower than last year’s, and concluded the 2022 harvest with the collection of almost 3.1 million kilos of grapes (3,072,134 to be exact). The extreme drought that marked a large part of the vegetative cycle, with no rain from May until after the beginning of the campaign, and the unusually high summer temperatures, which brought the plant to the limit of water stress in a generalized situation in most areas of the wine-growing map of the country, prevented the normal growth and development of the grapes, considerably reducing their weight and, consequently, the volume of production expected until then. The water from the late rains, especially on September 6, two days after the start of the harvest, and those of the following week, more abundant although also with a very uneven territorial distribution, was immediately metabolized by the vines and made it possible to fatten the berries to gain at least a little volume.
The 17.70% increase in production compared to the 2021 vintage breaks the downward trend of the previous two vintages, but keeps the León Designation of Origin still far from its best figures prior to the catastrophic 2017 campaign, when frosts, which cut production by up to 70%, caused very significant damage to the plant. That circumstance, the long process of vineyard recovery and the cautious containment of wineries’ winemaking volumes during the covid health crisis -these are mainly wines with high bar turnover and limited temporal validity-, have prevented the Control Board from returning to records above the four million kilograms reached between 2013 and 2016.
In this context and with the queen variety Prieto Picudo monopolizing with 2,372,391 kilograms 77.22% of the volume of grapes processed, the most positive news is undoubtedly the production record reached by the Albarín, which with almost 437,078 (14.23%) exceeds that of 2018. These percentages and figures reveal the polarization of operators’ preferences around the two autochthonous and most representative varieties of the area compared to the whites -also of the rank of main in both cases- Verdejo (134,380), in clear recession, and Godello (11,550), of purely testimonial character, as well as the reds Mencía (24,433), equally main, and the complementary Tempranillo (92,302) and Garnacha, again without any reference of grape weight during this vintage.
The qualitative analysis of the 2022 vintage highlights above all the excellent quality of the grapes in terms of the pulp-skin ratio, harvested in perfect sanitary condition in a harvest of short duration (it began six days earlier and ended sixteen days earlier than the previous one), of adequate ripeness and with very good general parameters. The winery technicians once again emphasize the excellent aptitudes for the production of wines with the two main grape varieties, Albarín and Prieto Picudo, which as single varietals are the great bet of the operators. The whites will be highly aromatic, fruity and fresh in the mouth due to the characteristics of the varieties, especially in the case of the Albarín, and in any case very balanced. The Prieto Picudo, essentially destined to the production of rosés, will again be round and clean in the varietal expression of the wines, extraordinarily fragrant and also with a very good balance between alcohol and the characteristic acidity that always brings freshness. But the limitation of production due to the vegetative process and the quality of the grapes, of very small size and a very favorable skin-to-pulp ratio, presents the winemakers with the challenge of taking advantage of the exceptional conditions of the fruit to produce superb red wines, with magnificent aptitudes also for aging, even long, in good barrels. They will be, in this case, very racial wines that will show all the strength and rusticity of the Prieto Picudo, but with the pleasant finesse, silkiness and elegance that must be very well worked in the cellar.