Talk of The Month

 

Harvest Report 2009 / By Matías Ríos, Winemaking Manager

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Just like in 2007 and 2008, great quality will be appreciated in the 2009 vintage. We again had a rain-less year throughout all the harvesting season, very luminous, with mid to high temperatures during the day, and cold at night.
With these conditions the word “Botrytis” wasn’t pronounced in any of our valleys; it was in fact one of the healthiest vintages we’ve ever had, though we had to work on the vineyards’ management and irrigation control in order to maintain those great varietal aromas, specially on the white varieties. Overall, it was a calm and tidy vintage, with excellent quality whites, reds and Pinot Noir.
In general terms, we can definitely say that everything was great (without any sort of climate catastrophes!). Spring – blossoming time – was calm and steady: there weren’t any frosts or rains; on the contrary, we had great temperatures and luminosity, which meant excellent sets and therefore great bunches. In fact, we had to be very careful when adjusting the amounts of production in order to avoid over-growing, especially in the white varieties. Those who did a good job in this area assured great final quality in their wines.
Summer time was dry – as usual in our country – with high temperatures during the day and colder nights.
Autumn confirmed that we would have an excellent vintage: during March the temperatures stayed among a mid to high level during the day – which meant that in some occasions we even had to leave the irrigation system for longer than usual – but noticeably decreased at night. In our wines these are good news, as the large thermal amplitude has as consequence very good phenolic ripeness, especially in the tannins, coinciding with the colour, fruity aromas and expression.  As result, we’ll have wines with very vivid violetish red colours, intense red fruit aromas, very elegant and not herbaceous at all; in mouth, juicy wines with ripe tannins, quite round and creamy… a delicious vintage.
As far as general national production levels, there was a normal to high yield in white varieties– especially with those producers who didn’t adjust their production levels on time – while the red varieties’ level were very normal.
Now, let’s see each one of the valleys:

Limarí

This northern coastal valley is known for its stability and capacity for ripening each variety in its perfect oenological moment. As it’s located in the north of our country, it’s a rain-free region, but very mild temperate as it’s in the coast. It has great luminosity and perfect springs. Because of these conditions it’s very normal to achieve great quality, with extraordinary aromatic intensity in all the varieties. The red ones particularly will stand out for their great concentration, especially the Syrah from Limarí, which was harvested on May. These wines, with their powerful and refined tannins, will give something to talk about.

Casablanca
For Cono Sur it was a great year in Casablanca. It’s in this place where a large concentration of production could be found, particularly for those producers who didn’t adjust their yield in time after the great set given by the excellent spring.  But the well worked vineyards got outstanding quality wines! We particularly had to carefully work the foliage management and the amount of fruit on the plants in order to achieve excellent results.
The absence of rain throughout the seasons meant great sanity all along. We had to protect the white varieties’ bunches from the sun and constantly irrigate them until harvest time. As result, we got great quality white wines: citric, with plenty of fruit, very mineral, amazing in mouth, with that characteristic Casablanca creaminess.
Pinot Noir are a whole other story… the great luminosity characteristic of this year’s vintage, contributed beautiful colours and excellent aromas in our wines. There’re lots of berries, cherries and red fruit notes in these intense and sweet-toothed wines, which have great concentration and ripe tannins. Really, this year’s Pinot Noir is something unseen before. We had to wait very patiently though for the perfect harvesting moment. Those who weren’t patient enough won’t have bad wines… but will have definitely missed the great opportunity that this year has given us.

San Antonio
The great thing about San Antonio is that it’s just as blessed as Casablanca: excellent general conditions, with temperatures a bit colder than in the rest of the valleys. This helps to maintain the freshness of the grapes. 
For Cono Sur the vintage in San Antonio was very important, as we harvested the first 100% organic productions of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, achieving excellent results. This will noticeably mean an upgrade in our organic line’s quality from Premium to Super Premium.

Maipo
In Maipo we found more of the same general great conditions. The thermal ampleness was particularly good as it contributed greater tannic concentration and phenolic ripeness. 2009 was a great year for Maipo, and particularly for Cabernet Sauvignon, which was the most blessed variety by the climate: tannins ripened at the same time of the fruit and colour. These wines will have plenty of red fruit! Expect vibrant and juicy wines, with round, soft, ripe tannins, elegant and lively; well done Maipo!

Colchagua
In Colchagua we again saw all the excellent characteristics as in the rest of the country, such as absence of rain and great luminosity. Temperatures fluctuated between mid to high, allowing for a great tannic ripeness to develop, without increasing possible harmful alcohol levels (contrary to what pessimist winemakers expected). It was, therefore, a very balanced vintage.
Viognier especially stood out in Colchagua. As it’s a phenolic white variety, the good temperatures permitted an excellent phenolic ripeness, with nice ripe fruit aromas like peaches and apricots, so characteristic of Viognier. These will be wines with great concentration and variety expression.
Among the red varieties, Carmenere was the star, with outstanding ripeness, plenty of black fruit and total absence of herbaceous tones. Pirazin? A word that nobody pronounced this year. Also, you should really look out for the excellent Merlot and Malbec from Colchagua.

Maule
In Maule Valley, which is further south, the absence of rain started to be felt. Because of the general lack of humidity of the soils, harvesting moment was moved up in ten days, so there wouldn’t be any grape dehydration problems. This, together with the low amount of production due to the lack of rain, will mean very fruit concentrated wines from Maule.

Bío Bío
Just like in the rest of the country, vintage in Bío Bío was very healthy, clean and rain free. In this valley harvesting time had to be brought forward because of the lack of humidity in the soil. The fruit was in fact harvested 2 to 3 weeks earlier than usual, giving the grapes great acidity. Bío Bío wines will be very balanced and expressive: Pinot Noir is definitely very promising, and Riesling stands out in a special way. This variety’s harvest moment is usually quite late, and bringing it forward meant great aromatic and phenolic ripeness, determined greatly by good luminosity and excellent general conditions. As result, we’ll have aromatically intense Riesling wines, perfectly ripe and with the right amount of expression.
Also, Cono Sur Sparkling from this valley looks great. We could say it will be just as good – or even better – than its previous vintage.

We can finally say that the 2009 vintage allowed each variety to be harvested in its perfect moment. It was also a very tidy and clean vintage, with each variety developing all of its potential.
This is another year to be grateful and happy for the wines we currently have aging in our cellar. We are impressed with the excellent quality each valley is delivering! This convinces us every day of the tremendous natural conditions Chile has to offer in order to produce the highest quality wines.
Cheers for the 2009 vintage!