What's New in February

2012 Vintage in Spain

Many people ask me about vintages in Spain. While there is no easy answer, the obvious one is that each vintage varies greatly throughout Spain due to the diverse topographies of the country.

Lately, I’ve come to realize that one really has to explore deeper than just topography. Topography does contribute to delimiting climactic conditions but there are many other factors acting on any given vintage, some of which take place within the wineries. Spain’s current economic upheaval is also affecting how different wineries are responding to each vintage.

So what of the 2012 vintage? 

After a week of traveling through northern Spain, my gut feeling is that this is a very positive vintage even though it will be a short one, like in the rest of Europe. This was a difficult vintage. Wineries focused on producing quantity over quality will call this a mediocre vintage, due to uneven ripening and rot problems, and their wines will suffer accordingly. For quality-driven estates who made the necessary adjustments, such as leaving unripe clusters behind, 2012 is looking to be a terrific vintage.

It seems as though the most difficult vintages in Spain are sometimes the finest. For 2012 there is a general lift and freshness in the wines. They are particularly crisp and delightfully aromatic.

In Galicia, Do Ferreiro has crafted absolutely beautiful wines by making great sacrifices (such as blending the 2012 Cepas Vellas into the regular Albariño). Similar stories are true for the rest of our wineries in Galicia with D Ventura standing out as having lost none of their harvest; they just happened to luck out on the weather.

This pattern remained true while traveling through Castilla where the wines again revealed great character. As for Rioja, I saw a bit of transition from light and fresh wines to wines that were quite structured. The Basque country had a perfect season and an exceptional harvest with very good yields (the opposite of the rest of Spain). The 2012 txakolis are amazing!

The picture of the vintage will vary greatly for the consumer. Large houses will have to do what it takes to make up for losses and the results are going to be obvious in their wines. In contrast, growers will make great wines. The 2012s are already landing, try them yourself and make your own assessment.

- André Tamers