Volume of wine approved: 240.03 million litres.
- Red wine: 2215.70 million litres.
- Vino blanco: 14.57 million litres.
- Rosé wine: 9.76 million litres.
The weather between November 2000 and August 2001 can be termed appropriate for the development of the viticultural cycle. Rainfall was consistent with average values for the Wine region, although chronological distribution was irregular. While there was abundant rain between November and April, the spring was very dry. The summer brought sufficient rainfall thanks to seasonal thunderstorms. Mild temperatures predominated during the winter but were exceptionally warm in the spring, with highs reaching 40 °C in May and June. Temperatures during the summer were average for the season. There were few frosts and hailstorms and their effect was of little importance.
Altogether, the vineyards prospered satisfactorily, in tune with a normal cycle, although with earlier than usual budding, flowering and setting, due to the high temperatures, which also resulted in earlier ripening. Setting was excellent in most of the region and the grapevines showed good numbers of clusters. This prompted the Control Board to recommend that grape growers carry out some thinning operations to maintain yields within the figures allowed by regulations. These maximum yields exist to ensure optimal quality and the magnificent results obtained amply support this policy.
An exception to generally good setting were the old vineyards located on arid soils at higher altitudes, where the setting stage coincided with the high temperatures mentioned before, with a significant effect on production. In early July these vineyards showed moderate water stress, which was compensated by later rainfall.
In general terms, the Control Board Technical Services termed the growth and health of Riojan vineyards excellent at the start of the harvest, which took place in Rioja Baja on 4 September. During the second half of September, harvest had become generalized in this area and spread throughout the central part of Rioja. Harvest became widespread in Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa during the first days of October, always in a staggered fashion, by grape variety and soil type, given that grapes ripen differently from one vineyard to the next. Excellent berry health and good weather provided optimal harvesting conditions until 3 November, when the last grapes were picked in Labastida.
From the first samples taken by the Control Board Technical Services it became evident that berry size was smaller than in other years, with a good pulp-skin weight ratio -very important for grape quality- bringing down initial production forecasts.
The Garnacha grapes, with a shorter growth cycle and lower production due to coulure problems, were the first to be harvested, with higher alcohol potential than in previous years (between 13% and 15%). White grapes were harvested around the same time, in good health and with sufficient alcohol content to ensure quality wines. The Tempranillo was harvested selectively throughout the Wine region, as the different plots reached appropriate ripening parameters, with an alcohol potential between 12% and 14%. The same is true for Graciano and Mazuelo grapes.
The final harvest figure was 367.16 million kg grapes, down 25.18 % from last year and about 62 million kg more than in 1999. The average yield this year was 6,832 kg per hectare, practically coinciding with maximum yields allowed by the Designation's Regulations. The Rioja Alta sub-area showed the most significant decrease in average production with respect to 2000 -about 30%- with highest yields in the Nájera and Haro areas.
From a quality viewpoint, the report issued by the Control Board Technical Services confirms the expectations of a harvest of exceptional quality generated by the very promising development of the growth cycle and the outstanding health of all grape varieties. In view of the results of tests undertaken for the approval process to which all wines made are subjected, alcohol content, acidity and colour and polyphenol figures were higher than the average of all previous harvests and very uniform throughout most of production. The wines can therefore be expected to be ideal for ageing.
The D.O.Ca. Rioja Control Board Plenary decided to award the 2001 Vintage its highest rating: "EXCELLENT". The decision came in the wake of the spectacular results obtained during the wine approval process, which has to be undergone by every wine made from the harvest before they can earn the right to belong to the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja. This general rating for the vintage confirms the comments on the exceptional quality of the grapes harvested which the Control Board made after the harvest, as well as the impressions of wine technicians during vinification. Everyone agrees that this is going to be a "historic" vintage.
No other vintage since strict analytical and sensorial approval system was introduced in 1980 had offered such high percentages of top quality wines. The average test parameter results are undoubtedly the best obtained to date, surpassing such an emblematic vintage as 1994. Only 9 vintages were rated Excellent during the last century, the last three being 1995, 1994 and 1982.