It is known that Chile has unique conditions for growing grapes, particularly because of the great climatic stability between harvests. Well, as long as “El Niño” does not interfere.
“Talking with experienced winemakers, we all have agreed that the 2016 harvest has been one of the most challenging for the Chilean wine industry in its modern history. The reason for this, no doubt, is the El Niño phenomenon,” explains the chief winemaker of Viña Maipo, Max Weinlaub.
El Niño (El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO) is an atmospheric phenomenon characterized by an increase in the temperature of the Pacific Ocean in an area extending from the coast of South America to Oceania, and whose consequences can be felt even in Europe, Africa, Asia and much of the American continent, particularly influencing rainfall. In 2015, because of its intensity this phenomenon was baptized by NASA as “El Niño Godzilla”, being one of the three strongest recorded in history, along with that of 1997-1998 and 1982-1983.
In Chile, El Niño determined an increase in rainfall from July 2015 onwards in almost the entire country and the late arrival of a summer that recorded higher temperatures than usual. Added to this, there were two major rainfalls in mid and late April, which were accompanied by high temperatures, creating a difficult situation for vineyards in the central region of the country, where grapes were still on the vine waiting for the optimum maturity for harvest.
Quinta de Maipo vineyard, Maipo Valley
“It is in difficult years that great terroirs make a difference, and so it proved the Quinta de Maipo vineyard this harvest,” says Max, and continues: “Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from this estate -located in upper part of the Maipo Valley- reached optimum maturity and a suitable concentration of sugars earlier than expected, so the grapes used to produce Limited Edition, Protegido and Alto Tajamar were successfully harvested before the great rain of April.”
This vintage, the wines from the Quinta de Maipo vineyard will express the unique characteristics of 2016: soft wines with kind tannins, fruity aromas, intense color and good balance between alcohol and acidity.
The responsiveness of Viña Maipo’s agricultural and winemaking teams in terms of harvesting and grape reception was critical to minimize the consequences of a rainy year and successfully culminate this season. “Surely, the wines from this vintage will be unique,” says the winemaker.