Chile Harvest Report 2010
Curicó June 4th, 2010
The harvest 2010 has been full of the unexpected due to atypical climate and tectonic behavior.
Up to this point it has been customary to see harvest dates that fall slightly ahead of expectations. Where we could usually expect warmer weather which would advance the beginning of the harvest, this year has been absolutely to the contrary.
The agricultural year that has just ended was characterized as one of the freshest and driest of years in recent decades, results of the influence of “la Niña”, a natural phenomenon of interaction between the ocean and atmosphere which occurs in the Pacific region every several years and is largely characterized by the colder than normal temperatures it presents between the South American and Oceanic coasts. This is provoked of by swelling of cold deep ocean waters pulled towards the surface by the wind. The air temperature becomes cooler, directly influencing precipitation and causing an important shortfall that dominates the greater part of the year.
The “el Niño” phenomenon, on the contrary, is characterized by the warmer than normal ocean temperatures it presents. This heating of marine water inhibits the raising of cold waters and generates an important increase in precipitation.
The agricultural year begins in June with the winter freezes and pruning and ends in May with the arrival the last grape clusters from the winery. This past season, 2009-2010, began with a very fresh spring. We had cold temperatures in September which affected the early sprouting varieties such as chardonnay and pinot noir, lowering their production from 20% to 30%. Later during the blooming period in November, little sunlight, cold atmosphere and breezes caused spoiling problems in more sensitive varieties such as Merlot and Carmenere.
The development of the plant and its fruit occurred under conditions of low humidity and a complete absence of rains which caused an increase in fresh temperatures, the health status of the grapes was spectacular, the maturity was calm and relaxed with out starts until summer.
The harvest, once re-started with pinot noir in the Cordillera de Rio Claro property where we make our family brut, occurred two weeks later than usual. As a result, we had not yet started the harvest on February 27th when the earthquake occurred and were able to select the precise timing which allowed us to overcome external difficulties and start with all systems in perfect condition on the 11th of March. This was made possible thanks to the tremendous effort of our team at the vineyard who, despite the problems each of them had suffered at home, contributed decisively in order to get us up-and-running in record time.
After the earthquake which registered 8.8 on the Richter scale, the calm was returned. The harvest continued relaxed and without hurry. Optimal states of maturity were achieved gradually with each variety and each property through the 13th of May. In brief, it was a harvest of few kilos but much quality.
The white wines are characteristically fresh and true to their varieties in addition to having an acidity characteristic of years with lower temperatures. We are already working to complete our first bottling.
The red wines are less alcoholic and have strong coloring with very marked varietal character, more reactive tannins than other seasons and a balanced acidity giving them great personality.
All in all, despite unexpected events, we can define the 2010 harvest as: