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News - 08.07.13

The 2013 harvest will give excellent wines in every part of Argentina

Winemakers from each region of the country spotlighted that this crop will be characterized not only by a good yield of grapes, but also by the health, quality and expressiveness of each varietal wine.

On Sunday, May 12 the grape harvest ended in the provinces of Río Negro, Neuquén and La Pampa; on May 5, in Mendoza, Catamarca, Salta and the Calchaquí Valley; whereas on April 28, it ended in San Juan, La Rioja, and the rest of the wine provinces. Having the definite figures and the effective control of grape going into the wineries, the National Institute of Viticulture pointed out that this year, Argentina yielded 640 million kilos, a 23% more than in the previous harvest.

On the other hand, head of the entity, Guillermo García, informed that “the minimum alcohol content for 2013 wines was fixed at 13.10 for white and colored wines in Mendoza and San Juan, except for the South region of Mendoza, which is 12.8 for both white and colored ones.”

comparativo 2003-2013

But beyond this, in order to know the performance of the harvest in the different parts of the country, and which wines will be available shortly on shelves, Wines of Argentina decided to talk to the new generation of winemakers, the true protagonists of this harvest.

Sebastián Zuccardi, winemaker of the homonymous winery, stressed: “the 2013 harvest will be, undoubtedly, one of the most important in the last decade. A fresh climate, excellent health conditions and the scarcity of hazard climatic events, guaranteed an outstanding crop.” This way, “we will find wines displaying a great freshness and elegance that respect the different terroirs and expression of the year.”

In addition, he added that after some years, this harvest has registered normal yields, between 20% and 25% more than 2012. On the basis of these conclusions, he forecasts an excellent crop, giving better wines than in the previous one.

Like his colleague, Santiago Mayorga, Nieto Senetiner’s winemaker, spotlighted the volume of the crop, since the conditions of blooming-fruit setting were very favorable, with no colds and zonda winds. “As a consequence of these high yields – he explained – some wines display less concentration, but exhibit great fruit expression and freshness.”

Besides, Lucas Quiroga, Winemaker of bodega Del Fin del Mundo, from Patagonia, said that in this region particularly, the amount of kilos harvested has not changed, registering stability of growth and yield in vineyards. “It is important to mention that our winery works with its own 10-year old vineyards.”

From the province of Catamarca, region with few cultivated hectares, Carlos Arizu, owner of the winery ‘Cabernet de Los Andes’, pointed out that the 2013 harvest was meager in terms of volume in Fiambalá, Medanitos, and Tinogasta, but enjoying good quality and health. “In our case, it is 25% lower than the average and 10% lower than in 2012.”

From San Juan, José Morales, Callia’s winemaker, stressed that in this region the qualitative result of the harvest was from very good to excellent, with higher concentration than the 2012 crop, in the particular case of red wines, not only for those to be consumed in the same year, but also for those to be aged. In general, characteristics are far above the average. In relation to volume, he said that yields were similar to the numbers of last year. However, he highlighted that in 2012, there was a significant reduction compared with 2011.

In relation to the health of grapes, Mayorga labeled this harvest as excellent, since there were few rains reported during the critical period, and when it rained, temperatures lowered a lot, limiting the development of fungal deceases.

As regards the climate, Ignacio Lopez, Etchard winery’s winemaker, located in the region of Cafayate, said that this year could be perfectly placed within the all-time average figures. “During the harsh winter, grapevines could accumulate enough hours of cold to lead to an excellent budbreak. In the spring, the absence of late frosts and strong winds favored a very good fruit setting. After veraison, rainfalls were normal for the region and time, therefore it could be said that the whole season took place with relative ease. This climatic benevolence led to a harvest that combined very high yield in vineyards and outstanding quality in grapes.”

In relation to the quality, Quiroga maintained that this was a year particularly different to 2012, “since we had a very warm spring and good temperature ranges during January and February, enabling us to reach a more balanced ripeness and excellent levels of acidity and aromas in earlier white and red varieties. During March and April, temperature also registered an average that helped considerably, mainly Malbec of the Premium segment and Cabernet Sauvignon”.

In short, the winemaker from Patagonia said that this will be a year with high-quality grapes, displaying color intensity, good levels of total acidity and lower pH in comparison with last year.

What was the varieties’ performance like?

mendoza comparativo

Ignacio Lopez told that in Cafayate, this is a good year for both white and red varieties. They expressed their maximum potential, reaching ripeness in optimum conditions of health and winemaking potential.

Concerning the wines, “white varieties exhibit in general an excellent natural acidity, as a result of an early January with several cloudy days. In the case of Torrontés, particularly in Cafayate, it stands out for its freshness and intensity on the nose, with an aromatic profile of citrus fruits and white flowers.”

Then, he added: “on the other hand, red varieties reached an excellent ripeness, keeping a perfect balance between acidity, sugar and phenolic ripeness, giving wines with deep and bright colors, an intense and fine nose, and at the same time, a great structure and volume on the palate.”

Fernando Buscema, winemaker at Caro, a winery that makes only two lines: Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, stressed that the quality of 2013 Malbec is outstanding. “I was particularly surprised by the balance of sugar, acidity and pH. The end of the harvest was dry and warm allowing us to harvest quietly, choosing the right moment for each plot. We work especially with Malbec from Altamira, Gualtallary, Agrelo and Vistalba/Las Compuertas. In the case of this variety, we will see a harvest developing very well over years, perhaps with a “low profile” at the beginning of its life, but it will be a talking point for its elegance and balance.”

mendoza comparativo 2012-2013

“Whereas in the case of Cabernet Sauvignon, with a heterogeneous performance, being Altamira the region that stood out, this year is one of the best I remember,” he explained.

In Patagonia, Lucas Quiroga highlighted that the varieties shining this year will be: “on the one hand, Sauvignon Blanc, as it reached, thanks to low temperature in January, a good ripeness maintaining all its aromatic potential. Its color is greenish yellow with steely hues. It displays fresh aromas of grass and citric fruits. Due to its great natural acidity in the mouth, it offers a refreshing feeling.”

Likewise, he added with reference to Malbec, that the characteristics of this year were ideal for this grape. “In the different segments (young and premium wines) its attributes were brought out and enhanced. The resulting wines exhibit a great, dark and purple color. On the palate, according to their winemaking process, they boast volume, fleshy character, round and sweet tannins.”

Concerning Cabernet Sauvignon, he added that as Malbec, this variety reached a good ripeness, giving birth to juicy and easy-to-drink wines, with pleasant tannins and a good structure in the mouth. Thanks to the special features of this year, “long macerations could be carried out in this variety, allowing to regulate its pyrazine content,” added Quiroga.

san juan

Finally, Morales, concerning San Juan, underlined that the varieties that grew best were Bonarda, Syrah, Torrontés from Tulúm Valley; Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay from Zonda; Tannat from Cañada Honda; and Malbec from Pedernal. “We have high expectations in 2013 wines. There are regions like Pedernal that has shown outstanding characteristics, making us excited about great wines, mainly Malbec.”

san juan comparativo

Region by region

Making a differentiation among regions, Buscema explained that Altamira, in the Uco Valley, Mendoza, has shown likely to be one of the best regions to grow Cabernet Sauvignon during the 2013 harvest. Moreover,Gualtallary, also in the Uco Valley, was characterized by a very good harvest for Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, “probably an unforgettable one.” In addition, in Agrelo and Las Compuertas, in Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, the harvest was excellent for Argentina’s signature grape variety.

On his part, Sebastián Zuccardi spotlighted the case of the Eastern region of Mendoza, where the winery owns the estate ‘Finca Santa Rosa’. “Fortunately, it was a growing season in which the almost absence of climatic events, like frosts and hail, led to a complete crop of great quality. The lowest temperatures toward the end of summer and beginning of fall favored a slow grape ripening, achieving an excellent phenolic ripeness, in the case of both Tempranillo and Bonarda we have planted. The result of this crop confirms that Santa Rosa district gives birth to wines displaying great concentration, juiciness and tipicity.”

On the other hand, wines coming from the region of Vista Flores, in Uco Valley, where the estates La Ribera, Vista Flores, Piedra Infinita and Altamira are located, stand out for a particular terroir. “The features of its soil, rich in stones and sand, grant grape a great precocity in ripening, and a great potential of concentration in clusters.”

From Cafayate, winemaker Ignacio Lopez said that the region spotlights and celebrates this 2013 harvest, as one of the best he has ever experienced.

“Without doubt, wines from this vintage will surprise at the present time, in a near future, and in the case of aging wines that will show their splendor, in a few years.”

Quiroga, from Del Fin del Mundo winery, highlighted: “wines made in Patagonia will present great concentration of color and structure, very fruity and fresh aromas, and low pH. This guarantees a good aging and longevity.”

Arizu mentioned that in Catamarca, ripeness was early and they ended to harvest on April 14. Therefore, “wines will have a fast maturation, average tannins, and a good color concentration. The outstanding varieties were Syrah and Bonarda, whereas Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon showed normal and consecutive quality compared to that of 2012.”

On the other hand, Morales talked about the panorama of two main regions in San Juan, where Callia owns its vineyards. One of the them is Tulum Valley: “Here, in general terms, harvest was normal, though with some features such as the influence of rainfalls at the beginning of harvesting season, which made us fear the health of grape, but then fortunately, it was normalized, registering the usual level of rainfalls, having an excellent health. As regards ripeness, a delay was noticed at the beginning of the harvest, which returned to normal later, but leading to an unusual entry of raw material to the winery during the first two weeks of March.”  On the other hand, in the Pedernal Valley, “harvest was completely normal, with no important climatic events, with very good temperatures during the harvesting period, as we harvested with natural temperatures around 50° F. This helped to preserve the quality of grapes while they were transferred to the winery.”

Comparison 2012 with 2013

Both years were considered to give great grapes and therefore great wines. But harvests are not the same every year, the weather changes, as do rainfalls, winds, sunny days, among others.

Del Fin del Mundo’s winemaker said: “the difference in Patagonia in relation to 2012, was the presence of a very high average temperature between December (2011) and March (2012); something atypical in our region. In addition, a low temperature range and a dry year (few rainfalls), made that harvest a great challenge that was carried out with success; very different to the current harvest. A great detail to consider this year is that the first frosts (early) took place a week after the end of harvest, completing a good vegetative cycle, especially in the case of Cabernet Sauvignon”.

In this respect, Zuccardi mentioned that the climate in 2013 gave cooler days compared with the previous year, leading a delay in the ripening of some varieties and regions, and therefore wines with lower alcohol levels, very good natural acidity and fresher aromatic profiles. This, plus other factors, will grant wines fresher and redder fruits, making Malbec express all its potential, “which along with Bonarda are Queens in this harvest.”

In addition, Mayorga stressed that this is a year exhibiting a medium to low concentration, with a high potential of fresh fruit and very good natural acidity, but a lot of elegance. Whereas the 2012 harvest gave medium to high levels of concentration, and riper fruit.

In San Juan, Morales pointed out: “the difference found in the wines is the higher concentration of aromas and color, mainly in red wines, with an excellent tannic character, very good features on the palate, roundness, sweetness, etc, all of which predict great wines of 2013 vintage in all our wine segments.”