Last two vintages ‘most challenging in modern history of Chile’

12th September, 2017 by Lucy Shaw

The 2016 and 2017 vintages have been “the most challenging by far” in the modern history of Chilean wine according to Max Weinlaub of Viña Maipo.

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent trip to Chile, Weinlaub said: “The last two vintages in Chile have been the most challenging by far in the modern history of Chilean wine.

“We got off to a normal start in 2016 but we knew El Niño would hit and that the rains would be heavy.

“We picked our Sauvignon early and our Merlot and Pinot were off the vines but our Cabernet and Carmenère were still on the vines when the heavy rains hit, one after the other, so it was a race against botrytis.

“The quality of the grapes wasn’t great after the second rains – Carmenère was the biggest casualty – we were down by 60%. We still made the wine but selection was strict. It’s a sad situation but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Heat was the problem with this year’s harvest, which was troubled by wildfires.

“It was very warm this year and the grapes started gaining sugar very quickly. We picked a month earlier than usual and it was one of our earliest harvests on record – we’d finished by 21 April,” Wienlaub told db.

“Some areas were affected by the smoke from the wildfires that swept through the country. We isolated the vines that were affected by the fires and made wine from them using gentle vinification – so far we haven’t detected any smoke taint in them.

“The two harvests have been very costly to producers and have affected grape prices,” he added.

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