The grapes have been picked and Argentina is able to file another successful harvest for 2022, to match the previous four years. However producers are reporting that 2022 was the most singular of recent vintages, with each region experiencing its own challenges.
‘The 2021-2022 season reminds me of a good Hollywood movie,’ said Martín Kaiser, viticulturist at Doña Paula in Mendoza. ‘It certainly kept us entertained. Our hearts were in our mouths all the way through, but it had a great ending.’ Looking back over the year, it’s easy to see what Kaiser is talking about.
The season began with a cool, dry spring with low rates of snowfall. This resulted in less water flowing down to a province already suffering from severe water shortages, a not inconsequential consideration for vineyards that depend on irrigation.
But more drama was to come. Five frosts were recorded between October and November, some of them severe. These happened in the Uco Valley, the lower areas of Luján de Cuyo and the east of Mendoza, where most of Argentina’s large-volume winery operations are located.
‘We had a very dry winter and spring with much less dew, as well as very unusual late frosts,’ noted Gabriela García, winemaker at Bodegas Salentein in Mendoza. Although the damage didn’t become apparent immediately, following budding the bunches and ripening speeds were uneven. This resulted in a hit to yields of as much as 25% in some areas and 10% across the province on average.
Rain creates risks
The rain arrived at the end of spring, between December and February. Although it fell within historic parameters in terms of quantity, it was concentrated into a few weeks, meaning that wineries hurried to bring in their white grapes to avoid risking their quality.
‘This year, the whites were the big challenge. But if the harvest was done well, they achieved good quality and fresher wines, albeit in lower volumes,’ said Agustina Hanna, head winemaker at Bodega Ruca Malen.
‘March arrived with rains that slowed down the reds,’ said Germán Di Césare, head winemaker at Trivento Wines. ‘But the second half of the month was dry and cool – as was April – and that allowed us to harvest at a more relaxed pace. Ripening occurred gradually and we were able to bring the reds to the point we wanted,’ he added.
A spurt in sugar concentration, combined with ideal levels of acidity and pH, plus cool weather that helped with aromatic concentration. ‘We got balanced must, with moderate alcohol, good phenolic development, concentration and plenty of colour,’ comments Daniel Pi at Bemberg Estate. ‘We’ll be seeing wines with excellent ageing potential,’ he predicted.
But the rollercoaster of a season had one last twist in store when right at the end of March, a frost – the earliest in living memory – hit several vineyards in the Uco Valley and parts of Luján de Cuyo. It caused considerable damage, although fortunately, by then, about 90% of the grapes were in the wineries. However a final effort was required to rescue those grapes that remained on the vine.
‘There’s no doubt that it was a very unusual harvest,’ said Alejandro Vigil, President of Wines of Argentina and chief winemaker at Catena Zapata. ‘But the fact is that it was one of the best I’ve seen in terms of quality. I’m sure we’ll remember it as one of the best of recent years.’
When it comes to particular grapes, in Mendoza the red varieties to watch out for are Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Meanwhile for the whites the star is generally agreed to be Chardonnay.
In San Juan, Argentina’s second-largest wine producing province, the harvest went well in spite of several potentially serious issues with the weather. Paula González, winemaker at Pyros Wines explained: ‘Climatically, the 2021-2022 season was about average. We were hit by three significant…
Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/argentina-harvest-report-2022-wines-with-excellent-ageing-potential-479569/