While Mendoza is certainly blessed with one of the most stable climates in the world, it would be naïve to say that there were no vintage variations and this year we have certainly seen a uniqueharvest.
“It has been a different vintage,” says The Vines of Mendoza and Gimenez Riili winemaker Pablo Martorell. “In December we had a record of higher temperatures than the last 30 years! Then we had two rainy months. Therefore we encountered more challenges than normal.”
In a region that usually experiences long periods of sunshine with only the risk of the odd hail storm, to have a vintage with a bit more rain (although nothing compared to Europe!) proved a testing time for some producers. Complications were overcome this year by careful canopy management and logistical planning to get the perfect harvest time for each variety. In a project like The Vines of Mendoza, where each wine is individually made for the perfect ripeness according to each owner’s tastes and style preference, the harvest time is fundamental. This meant all hands on board when it came to grape picking, and an intense harvesting period as most of the red varieties all ripened very close together this year. Many owners of private vineyards also worked in between the vines this year to bring in their treasured bounty and enjoy a 'wine camp' experience in Mendoza.
Beyond the vines, winery work also required careful planning. “With years like this one, different decisions need to be taken into account during the crushing so we preserve the quality desired,” commented Pablo. "This is no mean feat when looking at hundreds of different wines for all different clients. However, after a few months of hard work, this harvest has produced some exceptional results with the cooler harvest meaning that we will see much fresher wines with lower alcohol."
“We are very happy with white grapes in general, they already display a very nice aromatic expression,” commented Pablo. “Malbec has the advantage of adapting to our terroir in an amazing way allowing us to always obtain great results. Merlot and Cabernet Franc are displaying a really good varietal expression too.”
With 222,900 bottles of wine snugly stored in the winery (many still in tanks and barrels!) Pablo and his team are now able to start evaluating the harvest. While Mendoza’s weather this year might have presented some challenges, the proof in the pudding this year will be tasting the results of those who are able to rise to the challenge. “Although it is a bit early to evaluate the outcome, we believe we will have a nice fruit concentration with a bit less tannin structure. But we are confident that we will be able to obtain elegant and balanced wines.”
Salud to the Mendoza Harvest 2014!
Amanda Barnes is a British journalist and wine writer living in Mendoza, and this was her fifth harvest in Mendoza. Although winemaker's called it a wet harvest, by all means compared to her native England this was a very sunny harvest indeed. www.amandabarnes.co.uk