This vintage has proved to be extremely challenging, with record high temperatures. Nonetheless, and thanks to the strict monitoring of our vineyards, wines will be structured but also fluid, balanced and devoid of warm notes.
The figures have finally confirmed it: 2022 was the hottest vintage in the history of our estate in the Duero. It was also the driest: only 163 mm of rainfall compared to an average of 350 mm in recent years.
The technical specialists have no doubts: without the lessons learnt in 2017, also a particularly hot vintage in the area, they would have been unable to outline an effective strategy to ensure a successful outcome in 2022. The key, says our technical director Ángel Anocíbar, resided in a series of «emergency irrigations»: watering just at the right moments to help the vines cope with the frequent episodes of extreme heat recorded in May, June and, particularly, in July.
Just as we humans need to stay hydrated to contend with the heat, grapevines have their tricks to survive in extreme circumstances. Vines generally prioritise their own integrity, and therefore tend to shut down and slow fruit growth. This is why 2022 will go down as a year of irregularities. Each vineyard managed as best it could, and there were significant contradictions. For example, fertile plots in flat areas close to the Duero River, regarded as less qualitative, have performed better than established hillside vineyards, with poor soils and good sun exposure.
In addition to occasional irrigation, Abadía Retuerta paid special attention to green pruning so that plants were left with only the right number of clusters capable of ripening in such an extreme year.
Healthy grapes, balanced wines
One major advantage of having good weather is the complete absence of humidity-related diseases, such as botrytis. As a result, the grapes arrived at the winery in perfect condition. The sorting table was largely used to remove the odd raisined bunch.
The favourable weather also made it possible to harvest at the right time. Tempranillo grapes were picked while they were still crunchy, with alcohol levels below 14%. Garnacha, a variety that responds well to the heat, was one of the top performers on the estate this year, as was late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which thrives in warm vintages in the Duero Valley. Abadía Retuerta’s Syrah keeps shining whatever the conditions, while Malbec emerged in the 2022 vintage as one of the most promising new tenants in the estate.
The collection of grape varieties selected in recent years to respond to climate change is living up to our expectations.
Ángel Anocíbar prefers moderate alcohol levels. «When alcohol levels are higher, it is more difficult to complete fermentation, which means that maceration takes longer and this is something we wanted to avoid in this vintage,» he says. That is why he sought quick fermentations this year, with limited time skin-contact for the must and little extraction.
Still, he was the first to be pleasantly surprised: «I had never experienced a vinification like this year’s,» Anocíbar points out. «Fermentations only lasted about four days. The skins were so ripe that they melted forming a sort of must-saturated froth, so we didn’t even need to extract; the wine made its own pump-overs without any external help, as if it were a self-maceration.”
The wines are expected to have more structure, as is standard in dry years, but as a result of the swift vinifications, tannins feel ripe and are well integrated in the wines. The best thing, says Anocíbar, is that the final wines do not suggest a warm year.