The Regulatory Council of Rioja Appellation has valued the 2015 vintage as "Very good", thus improving the rating given to 2013 and 2014 vintages, which it considered only "Good". The rating of vintages in Rioja is based on a chemical and organoleptic analysis of wine samples taken directly from the deposits of the wineries, and establishes five categories: "Ordinary", "Average", "Good", "Very good" and "Excellent". However, in the last three decades the Regulatory Council hasn’t given any vintage one of the lower ratings. You must go back to 1984 to find a vintage rated as "Average", and to year 1972 to find the lowest rating, "Ordinary". From 1984 until now all the vintages have been rated as "Good", "Very Good" or "Excellent".
The 2015 harvest had unique characteristics, which some winemakers and vine growers relate to global warming. First, it was the earliest in the history of Rioja. Second, the harvest concentrated in a shorter period of time than usual. And finally, the average alcohol content of red wines was more than 14 per cent, something more typical of wine regions such as Ribera del Duero or Toro. The Rioja wine region covers a very broad and diverse acreage, with cool and rainy microclimates in the Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa and warmer and drier areas in the Rioja Baja. For this reason, harvest usually begins at different times in the different subareas and lasts almost two months in the whole region. In 2015, by contrast, it took place almost simultaneously over a period of four weeks. As for the alcohol, classic Rioja wines rarely exceed 13.5°, and formerly had even lower alcohol content.
With regard to production, 319 million of wine have been produced, of which 298 have finally been qualified (ie, declared suitable to be labeled as Rioja wine). Of them, 16.62 million are white wine, 13.62 are rosé and 268.24 million are red wine.
Council wine-tasters that have carried out the rating process have noted that red wines of the 2015 vintage have an intense fruit load, very elegant tannins, great aromatic complexity and optimal conditions for aging.