Written for The Drinks Business
With most of Argentina experiencing outstanding quality and Chile encountering one of the strangest harvests in their recent history, this year’s harvest has been remarkable.
Across Argentina the flowering period and harvest went by almost without a climatic hitch. In Mendoza, where the sun shines on average more than 300 days a year, the real risks for winemakers are frosts, hailstorms and burning Zonda winds sometimes of biblical proportions. This year as harvest comes to an end, winemakers throughout Argentina are celebrating one of their best harvests yet – without any climatic irregularities.
A mild spring and a cool summer, in these usually hotter climes, also helped with more elegant ripening and allowed winemakers to harvest at their own pace. “2013 is a promising year, especially for the grapes coming from the Uco Valley,” commented winemaker Leonardo Erazu from Altos Las Hormigas. “A more balanced ripeness was achieved… with wonderful natural acidity and less potential alcohol.”
Although the vintage is promising in quality, winemakers are suffering with an altogether worse plague: the increasingly erratic and unworkable political situation. The government’s policies on import restrictions; AFIP’s [Federal Administration of Public Revenue] alleged unpaid debt of $20 million US to the wine industry; rocketing inflation (estimated at 35%); and an uncompetitive local currency is foreboding a potentially fatal noose around the wine industry’s neck, according to many in the trade.
“This has been a phenomenal harvest,” explained winemaker and owner of Dolium, Ricardo Giadorou. “This is good news… because all the rest is bad: we have hyper-inflation, the government wants to steal money from everyone and the international market for Malbec is slowing down.”
Across the Andes, the political situation is far less complicated; however the climate this year has presented its own challenges. Irregular weather, although not necessarily dampening quality, has made harvest a logistical nightmare for some. In general the weather has been cooler, maturation less even and harvest delayed.