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.”
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?
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.”
“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.
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.”