Chile Vintage Report 2015

Chile has had a pretty wild ride this year, marked by floods and volcanic eruptions. The resulting wines will be mixed but the warm season looks promising for Mediterranean varieties.

Starting in the north of the country, a hot and very dry growing season pushed harvest times forward by a couple weeks. “We have had an early harvest this year with big bunches and lots of fruit,” said Emily Faulconer, winemaker at Viñedos Alcohuaz in Elqui. “The green harvest was very important this year” to restrict yields and allow fruit to ripen.

For all the dry conditions during the majority of the year, Mother Nature certainly made up for it on March 25; a freak rainfall dumped the equivalent of seven years’ worth of the region’s rainfall in less than 12 hours, reaching parts of the Atacama desert that hadn’t seen rain for centuries. Treacherous mud avalanches were fatal, although only affected minor vineyard plantations in Chanaral. In Limari, where harvest was halted for a few days until conditions dried up, the rain was a blessing in disguise for an otherwise parched region.

Further down the coast, in Casablanca, the hot year fanned a bush fire between the wine region and port city Valparaiso but fortunately vineyards were left unscathed. “2015 was a special harvest because we had a warm summer and autumn, with lower rainfall than the previous year,” commented Felipe Garcia from Garcia-Schwaderer. “We had a normal yield, but an early increase of sugar concentration. For that reason we picked some fruit without full ripening, [to maintain acidity].”

It was a battle for acidity across the Central Valley with a hotter harvest in most places, although rainfall mid-harvest in March proved a relief for some producers…

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