Region in Focus: Argentina
Argentinian wine makers are toasting a return to normality this year, after several challenging vintages with erratic weather playing havoc with their harvests.
With warm days, cool night and no heavy rains, the growing conditions were “excellent” for both red and white grapes, according to Walter Bressia, President of Bodegas de Argentina.
Production is up by 30% compared to last year’s vintage, with the total crush currently standing at 2.5 billion kg of grapes, compared to only 1.9bn kg last year, and 1.7bn kg in 2016.
Areas which have seen the biggest gains in production have been in the Cuyo region (Mendoza and San Juan), which have been adversely affected in recent years.
"We came from very atypical (rainy) years for Mendoza, and the 2017 vintage also had a very low yield because of frosts and zonda (foehn wind),’ Matias Michelini, consultant winemaker in the Uco Valley told Decanter, adding that 2018 was a much more “normal” year in production and climate terms.
"This typical year means that the wines returned to a character of full maturation, with healthy grapes, intense colours; very expressive and muscular. The Malbec particularly stands out for wines of great intensity and character."
And despite a heavy hailstorm to hit the higher altitudes of the Uco Valley, causing Michelini and some other producers to lose some grapes, he said the yields this year have normalised – up to 40% higher than last year’s short harvest.
In Mendoza, the rainfall was nearly a third lower compared to the annual average, with harvest kicking off two weeks earlier than usual "The red wines this year are really balanced in terms of acidity, they have an elevated malic acidity and a spectacular tartaric balance with respect to the alcohol,’ said Catena Zapata winemaker Alejandro Vigil. "The white wines are fine and lean with a medium concentration."
In Patagonia, frosts in spring and autumn resulted in a slight drop in production but the quality was high, according to local winemaker Marcelo Miras who reported lower volumes but excellent grape across all the varietals.
"The reds achieved excellent ripeness, offering fruity wines with intense colour and structure,” he said. “The white grapes, picked at the right time, had great natural acidity for fresh, vibrant wines – typical of Patagonia."