After the 2018 harvest, Max Weinlaub, Chief Winemaker at Viña Maipo, refers to the details and the characteristics that define this as a historic vintage.
Touring calmly through the Quinta de Maipo vineyard, located 45 minutes south of Santiago, Max Weinlaub, winemaker in charge of the wines at Viña Maipo recalls the events of 2017 and how this determined next year’s vintage.
“By the end of winter -beginning of spring 2017, it was clear that the ‘El Niño’ phenomenon was coming to an end, giving way to ‘La Niña’. This meant that, as from then on, precipitations would diminish and temperatures would be less extreme, all favorable conditions for the vines to produce a great amount of grapes,” explains Max. And he adds: “once budbreak was completed in spring, there were no frost spells, which allowed the leaves, shoots and bunches to develop vigorously.”
Though this occurred generally speaking, Max explains that there were certain climatic differences between the coastal areas and those vineyards located in the center of the country: “while in the interior valleys the recorded temperatures were quite high, on the coast the sunrays made themselves visible only on few occasions.”
Thus, a larger amount of grapes per vine, plus lower temperatures, caused a delay of approximately two week in the harvest on the coastal areas in comparison to an average year. He pointed out that “in the coastal valleys, the harvest of 2018 will be remembered for its low temperatures as well as for the permanent fog and cloudiness. And to us, winemakers, for cultivating patience, waiting for the optimal moment to harvest.”
Due to these low temperatures, during the year the viticultural tasks to assure ventilation and drying of the bunches, such as leaf pulling of the vines, were very important. It was necessary to have a permanent sanitary monitoring of the vineyard in order to anticipate botrytis breakouts, as well as a careful observation of the ripeness evolution.
“Interestingly enough, this year Chardonnays ripened faster than Sauvignon Blancs. When tasting the grapes, the flavors were already developed, but sugar did not accumulate at the same speed. This condition made us (as a team) take the decision to start harvesting the whites assuming we would achieve lower alcohol degrees,” indicates Max. And he concludes: “it was a correct decision since the grapes were harvested in optimal sanitary conditions, and the wines we obtained are fresh, fruity, with lower alcohol levels, but vibrant in their great natural acidity”.
Despite all, in the central part of the country the climate and temperature conditions were in line with an average year, so it was possible to harvest on time, at dates that were very close to what was expected. “Due to the higher temperatures and to the absence of rain, the red grapes reached an adequate ripeness, giving life to wines of intense colors, very fruity and with soft tannins”, specifies the winemaker.
The exceptional climate and temperature conditions during 2017, plus a suitable viticultural management, allow us to foresee that the wines of the 2018 harvest will be much talked about. “We hope to capture all these blessings in each of Viña Maipo’s bottles, taking them directly to the hands of our customers. Because expressing the origin and obtaining the best of each year is greatly important for us,” assures Max, before climbing on his red truck -his ‘old friend’-, just when the sun begins to set, fresh breezes start to blow and the afterglow begins its journey through the skies.