The harvest in the Cava region has been over now for nearly a month. The grapes have been picked, the equipment has been packed away for another year and first fermentation finished. You’d think that was it but, there’s still a lot to be done to make sure that the 2017 fizz from the north east of Spain reaches your glass.
It’s amazing how much harvest conditions affect the wines that we drink. And in regions like cava, where producers are looking for consistency of style and quality that will keep consumers coming back for a bottle of their brand, vintages like 2017 can be a challenge.
As with much of Europe this year, the harvest in the DO Cava has been severely affected by low levels of rainfall during spring and very hot, dry conditions in the June, July and August.
As a result of the hot summer weather the vintage started almost two weeks earlier than normal, during the first and second weeks of August and in many cases will be finished by the end of September. Fast and furious picking was the order of the day to ensure optimum ripeness and avoid over-maturity whilst retaining good levels of acidity that are so important in the ageing of quality cava.
Overall, it is anticipated that the 2017 yields will be down by as much as 10% in comparison with last year, which is quite a big reduction on average yields in a normal year when you consider that 2016 was down between 15-20%. Macabeo and Xarel.lo, Cava’s staple native varieties, were particularly affected by this shortfall.
Less volume, of course, means that there will be pressure on grape prices which, inevitably will mean that prices might have to rise when these wines come on top the market in 2 years’ time. The upside, however, is that the grapes were extremely healthy and concentration is high and so the Cava’s from 2017 will be intense, aromatic and delicious to drink.