ARGENTINA HARVEST REPORTS
2016 was a bad year (in Mendoza). Plagued by El Niño, production was dramatically down. The rains affected quality for many, although some wineries were able to produce excellent wines with lower alcohols and a fresher style.
LUJAN DE CUYO, MENDOZA
It was a difficult year for Mendoza, because the big influence of El Niño, that brought a lot of rains, 5 times more than usual.
It forced the vineyard manager work closer to the vineyard , deciding the correct moment of harvest, making more treatment than normal.
The smaller producer with not enough money to treat the vineyard all the times that are necessary, were forced to abandon the vineyards or sell bad grapes, with Peronoslperoa and Mildew.
But it wasn't bad for everyone, the low level of alcohol and better natural acidity gaves unique wines more elegant and old world style, with fresher fruit.
It was a short vintage. Production was about a 40% less than 2015, because of rains and late frost.
VALLE DE UCO, MENDOZA
This area also was atipical, with lot of rains and clouds.
Very short vintage, due to late frost in Nov and some hail in March.
A harvest with less potential alcohol, more acidity and floral aspect, giving an elegant style, with more flower and spices profiles.
Even though the fruit was excellent, but more red profile and long fine Grain tannins. and very long finish.
It was similar of Lujan de Cuyo (Agrelo and Altoagrelo) , with more old world style , but just in the wineries that treat and work very hard in the vineyards .
This harvest was short, due to the late frost and hails.
But it affected more the amounts of kilograms of production, than the quality, because it was really good, with concentrated and balanced wines, great acidities and beautiful colors.
Dry year, especially well for whites, like Torrontes, but also for Tannat and Malbec, due to the low temperatures of March and Feb, that made a very slow ripeness with better and fine poliphenols. Also great depth and structure
This year was very good and different compare with the rest of the country, which have more rains as usual. In Alto Valle, instead was dry, with good sunny days.
At beginning of harvest there were a couple of weeks hot, that advanced the harvest of some varieties a little, like Pinot, then some cold weeks came back the harvest to the normality.
Excellent results with Malbec, Chard and Cab Franc, with nice natural acidity, but very good structure and big body. More Masculine, said Agustin Lombroni (Verum’s Wienmaker).
Great Colors and concentrations.
2015 was a particular year, with more rains than normal in Feb and April, but with a colder March.
Harvest this year kept the wineries on their feet, to get a good grape at winery was necessary watch the vineyard constantly; those who did the work were able to obtain excellent work.
The harvest was 234,000 tons (11% less than last year), with 73% coming from Mendoza, 22% from San Juan province and the other provinces the rest. The surface planted was 562,000 acres (50% red, whites 28% and Rose 22%); this includes quality and bulk grapes. It means a slight growing during the last 10 years of 4%, leading this growth was the highest quality varietals, most of them red grapes, which are continuing growing its share in the total of areas planted, having in 2003 38% and reaching in 2015 to 50%.
Also is good to know that Malbec now has 97,122 acres planted, meanwhile Bonarda has 47,851 acres (in 2000 Malbec was 40,394 and Bonarda 37,038 while Bonarda actually produced more). Followed by Cabernet Sauvignon with 38,886 acres, Syrah 32,126 acres, and Tempranillo with 15,676 acres.
Winter was normal, in Agrelo, Vista Flores and Tunuyan there was temperatures below zero in November but didn't cause much damage.
During December and January the temp. was from normal to warm with regular rains, February received more rains than normal, mainly in the Agrelo area. It affects the concentration of sugar needed to achieve a right ripeness, which forced agronomists to walk more than normal the vineyard to identify the plots with the correct ripeness level.
This season the production for Zolo/Tapiz was 1.7M Tons a 6% percent less than last year, said Carlos Correas from Tapiz /Zolo.
During the harvest time, it was very important the work as a team between Winemakers and Agronomists, because they had to reorganize the days of harvest constantly to have the grapes in optimum condition into the winery. The rains at the end of April forced the agronomist to harvest grapes a few days earlier in order to avoid any kind of diseases.
It is true that 2014 and 2015 received more rains than the historic average, but as Jean Claude Berrouet (fomerly at Petrus) from Tapiz/Zolo said, said “you don’t know what is having rains” comparing it with the rains in Europe. His experienced advice in this matter was a huge asset to the winery to solve possible problems.
Now “the wines showed really great, very expressive with a great structure,” said Fabian Valenzuela from Tapiz/Zolo.
It was a cold winter. An dry spring time with a evenly sprouting.
January had some hail storms, that affect the yield, but not the quality, as the following months almost no rains and no extreme temperatures, giving a excelent grapes and great expectation for Big Reds and fresh aromatics whites.
It was a cold and dry Winter with average temp. of 59 degreees. The summer was dry, only 0.8 Inch and also not much wind, which normally is very strong in Patagonia. At the end of the harvest, temperatures was a little warmer than normal.
This year the period of maturation was longer than normal, with not much sugar concentration and better levels of acidities.
Beside the 2 weeks of warm days in Autumn, this year was colder keeping fresh fruit and minerality in the wines.
“It was a great year for all varieties”, said Agustin Lombroni from Verum.
Conclusion: Salta had a dry harvest and not extreme Temps. Patagonia, experienced also a dry harvest and not much winds, both great sceneries for excellent grape production. Mendoza had more rain than normal, forcing the winemakers and vineyard manager to strategize more in detail all the harvest. It means you can see from this year wineries with mediocre wines and others with excellent wines, making a difference for those who did what they had to do during the harvest and those who didn't.
2014 was a tricky year both for Argentina and Chile. In Chile, a bad spring frost dramatically decreased yields. 2014 was a very relatively cold year for Argentina, much like 2001. In both Argentina and Chile, 2014 was a "winemaker's year." The winemakers and vineyard managers who could adapt to the harvest's particularities will be showing us some great wines by taking advantage of the lower yields and longer maturations.
In Mendoza, there were more rains and cloudy days in February than normal. This together with low temperatures in March and April gave to these wines a better natural acidity and elegance. It seems it will be a great year for Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet and Merlot said Carlos Correas, vineyard manager of Zolo/Tapiz. Hector Durigutti, winemaker and co-owner of Lamadrid, stated that it is a year with a great poliphenolic ripeness, giving the wines a big potential of aging. In particular Bonarda is doing very well with great color and structure. His harvest was from 10th April to 6th May.
Patagonia, unlike Mendoza, had fewer rains than normal. It was a great year for Malbec, more concentrated with remarkable aromas of dark fruit. Chardonnay have good acidity and good body, but not too overripe.
In Alto Cachapoal, Chile, Meinard Bloem (Winemaker and vineyard Manager of Lagar de Bezana) reported that new pruning system plus the heavy frost in early spring reduced yields by over 30%. The harvest was warm, and excellent for their Cabernets.
According to Wines of Argentina, "the 2013 harvest will give excellent wines in every part of Argentina."
The grape production in Mendoza was 1.98 million tons, which while 33% greater than 2012, is an average harvest over the last 10 years.
According to Carlos Correas, who manages the Zolo & Tapiz vineyards throughout Mendoza:
"The winter was normal and dry. Spring maintained average temperature and luckily no late frosts, which permitted normal growth. Canopy development was very good.
January and February were warmer than normal, but from March on temperatures were average for Mendoza. Analysis showed grapes with very good color and good harmony between acid and sugar."
In Agrelo, Héctor Durigutti (Lamadrid) said he was very pleased both with the return to normal production and excellent quality.
In Valle de Uco, Alejandro Sejanovich (Manos Negras, TeHo & ZaHa) said 2013 was a very good harvest. March 15 to April 15 was cooler than normal, with small rains, which
kept the fruit with good acidity and a slower-than-normal maturity. Flavors happened with cooler conditions and there were no problems with over-ripeness or dehydration. The aromatics were fresher and more floral.
Salta's 2013 growing conditions were within their average conditions.
According to Verum's Agustín Lombroni, Rio Negro, Patagonia experienced a more humid harvest, with less sun than normal. The wines are more elegant with a little less concentration, but with more expressive aromatics.
2012 was another good harvest in Argentina. Yields were lower than normal and this improved quality. Red wines are showing good color and concentration. It was an average year for whites. According to Tapiz & Zolo winemaker Fabian Valenzuela, the 2012 harvest is similar in quality to 2010.
Most winemakers agree 2012 was a very good year for reds. In November the infamous Zonda winds swept down from the Andes. Carlos Correas, vineyard manager of Tapiz & Zolo, explains that these very strong, warm and dry winds affected flowering and caused some dehydration, which reduced the yield per plant. The reduced yield created more concentrated grapes. There was no frost problem this spring. January was very warm and dry followed by a cooler February, April and May, which allowed good ripeness.
Héctor Durigutti, winemaker of Lamadrid (Agrelo), told us that it will be a great year for Cabernet and Bonarda because they had the right amount of time to ripen. Durigutti said it was a more complicated year for Malbec: it will only be a great year if the wineries waited to harvest later for the correct polyphenolic ripeness.
Alejandro “Colo” Sejanovich, winemaker and vineyard manager of Manos Negras and TeHo & ZaHa, was very pleased with the harvest in Altamira, Valle de Uco. The region had a very cool March and April so grapes finished ripening in ideal conditions. These cool temperatures allowed the grapes to retain high levels of natural acidity; the fruit is very fresh and balanced. Production was lower than normal and the fruit has excellent concentration.
Altocedro's winemaker and owner Karim Mussi Saffie told us yields in La Consulta, Valle de Uco were down 20%. Tannins and phenols were lower than normal. The weather allowed long ripening: Karim did not harvest Cabernet Sauvignon until the middle of May! Karim considers the harvest similar to 2009.
Cafayate experienced a year with more rain than normal. In Estancia Los Cardones where Anko is produced, Sejanovich explained that it was not as humid as in Cafayate. The weather was dry with cold nights and sunny days. The Malbecs are showing great structure, spice, mineral, and flower characteristics.
Patagonia experienced an excellent harvest for reds, particularly for Malbec and Cabernet Franc. It was an average year for whites. According to Verum winemaker Mariano Vignoni, it was an extremely dry year, with only 6 inches of rain. Verum's vineyard manager Marcelo Casazza noted that unlike Mendoza, production levels were average. Luckily there were no frost issues and vine health was excellent.
The 2011 Argentina harvest, alongside 2002 and 2006, is likely to be considered one of the best harvests in recent history.
According to Vino del Sol's Alejandro Darago: “We had a typical winter up until November 9th, when a big frost affected vineyards in Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco, damaging about 20% of the vineyards. Luckily however the summer brought few hail storms. January and February were cooler than normal, which allowed a slower and more balanced ripeness. March and April were dry and warmer which allowed the plants to continue to mature, with the sugar and polyphenols developing together with high acidity (low pH). The harvest was two to three weeks later than normal. Whites will have a very nice expression and excellent acidity. For the reds it will be one of the best harvests in Mendoza, especially Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. The wines have great balance, color and expression, in particular in rocky and sandy soils where the colder years benefit them. Good concentration, but not over-ripe. Winemakers think the the ripe tannins and high acidity will make this year good for aging.”
In summary, Patricia Ortiz, President and Owner of Zolo/Tapiz winery in Mendoza, said the 2011 harvest was “a really great harvest, as good as 2002 and 2006.”
Salta also had an excellent harvest that was characterized by a cooler-than-normal climate. According to Lucía Romero, President of Camino del Inca: “This year had cooler days, which allowed the red varietals to mature slowly and calmly, with a great balance between sugar and polyphenol maturity. As a result the wines are balanced, and have good concentration and aromatic complexity. Likewise, the whites have better maintained their fruity and floral aromas, helped by the relatively lower temperatures.”
Patagonia had a very good harvest in 2011, not as outstanding as in Mendoza, but still very good with a homogeneous quality. After a traditional cold winter with little rain, the area was blessed to have a Spring with no frosts. This allowed a homogeneous blossoming and sprouting. The summer was warm with nice levels of sugar and acidity. The harvest was earlier than normal. The reds will be fleshy and concentrated, with deep colors and intense aromatic expression; the whites will have a great expression and body. A very good year for Pinot Noir, Merlot, Malbec, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
In Mendoza, grape production, while slightly above 2009 levels, was still below 2008, and much lower than hoped for. With the increased demand and this stalled supply, grape prices have skyrocketed.
Throughout Mendoza, a key characteristic of the 2010 harvest was the need to harvest later than normal. Said Carlos Correas, chief vineyard manager of Tapiz and Zolo (estate vineyards in Agrelo, Maipú, Ugarteche, Vista Flores, and Tupungato), "Maturity took longer than normal, especially in the seeds and pulp, so we waited and kept putting off the harvest until the moment was right. Luckily the wait paid off, as the weather helped us conclude a fantastic harvest, with fruity, well-structured wines of excellent color."
In La Consulta, Altocedro winemaker Karim Mussi Saffie noted the "the maturity came 15 days late with a 30% decline in yields... aromas are more powerful than last year with much lower and normal alcohols..."
According to Luis Asmet, winemaker at Camino del Inca in Cafayate: "In general Salta had a good harvest with perfect plant health. It was a sunnier and drier year than normal (less than 120ml of rain), and dehydration was a concern. Harvest occurred about a week earlier than normal. It was a very good year for Torrontés."
According to Mariano Vignoni, winemaker at Verum in Rio Negro: "The 2010 harvest was a typical one, with average temperatures close to their historic average. There was an equal maturity between sugar and polyphenol maturities, which allowed more balance and fresher and fruiter aromas and for each varietal to reach its best expression. It was a very good year for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir."