Santa Rita Estates releases mid-harvest vintage report

Wine group Santa Rita Estates, comprising Santa Rita and Carmen in Chile and Doña Paula in Argentina, has released its mid-harvest vintage report.

Maipo, Chile - Santa Rita

Chile

Almost 80% of Santa Rita Estates’ grapes have been picked, with harvest expected to finish in the first week of May.

In Chile, where Santa Rita currently owns over 3,700 hectares of vines, staff are projecting a reduction of about 10% in total yields. There is, however, difficulties in generalising in the region’s vintages.

Eduardo Alemparte, director of Viticulture and Oenology, said: “The 2019 vintage shows a greater heat accumulation than previous historic records, with dry and healthy conditions towards the end of ripening. Major downs are Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca and Merlot from the Pumanque vineyard. The red varieties, although down in yields, have shown great quality.”

In the Chile’s Limarí Valley, Chardonnay was picked 10 days later than last year. “Yields are slightly higher than expected, with healthy and ripe fruit,” reported Gerardo Leal, head viticulturist.

Sebastián Labbé, Santa Rita winemaker, added: “The balance and purity of the wines is amazing – these could well be the best Chardonnays we have ever made from there.”

Casablanca and Leyda were also harvested nearly 15 days earlier than last year. Carmen winemaker Emily Faulconer said: “The conditions allowed great complexity of flavours and aromas from our coastal vineyards in all varieties. Although Sauvignon Blanc yields are lower, the quality is extremely good.”

The Alto Jahuel Estate in Alto Maipo has been picked at about 90% and yields are slightly higher than expected. “The higher temperatures of January stopped vegetative growth early. This together with a dry autumn resulted in ideal hanging time for our Cabernet Sauvignons,” commented Faulconer.

“In Pumanque we had a hot and dry January, which allowed for strong hormonal signals in veraison. This resulted in lower yields with a late but very homogenous ripening on both Merlot and Cabernet Franc,” said Mario Oliva, viticulturist.

Santa Rita Estates are Chile’s second largest premium wine exporter in terms of sales by value, measured by wine sales greater than $30 per case, and have a market share greater than 5% of the total exports of bottled South American wine.

Argentina

In Argentina, where Santa Rita own more than 700 hectares, the vintage started a week later than usual. In the areas of Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valleys within the Mendoza region, harvest of the whites has been already finished, as 2019 has been an outstanding year thus far for health in white grapes. Red varieties showed steady ripening through the summer, which enabled harvesting of Malbec from the beginning of March. The final grapes are due to be picked by the end of April.

Viticulturalist Martin Kaiser commented: “From a climatic point of view, we had a fairly dry February and March, which allowed for mature and healthy grapes. The average temperatures have been normal. However, there has been an increase in days reaching temperatures of 32°C, far more frequently than in previous years”.

Regarding the potential of the harvest, winemaker Marcos Fernandez said: “For the third year in a row we are looking at a vintage of excellent quality, concentration and freshness. For example, the late January and early February heatwaves have boosted the tropical aromas of our Sauvignon Blanc and in the reds, there is a good concentration of colour and volume in the mouth.

“The biggest challenge we have actually had this year is the holding and crush logistics as a result of the overlap of harvests of white and red grapes, which is a fairly nice problem to have.”

Established in 1880, Santa Rita is one of Chile’s oldest wineries. Sustainability is top of its agenda – Santa Rita Estates have a fully integrated environmental and commercial sustainability programme in place. Viña Santa Rita was awarded ‘Ethical Company of the Year’ at The Drinks Business Green Awards 2015.

Santa Rita has also partnered with The National Gallery to create a line of limited-edition wines using images from the gallery. A percentage of the profits of each bottle sold will go back to the National Gallery.

Recently, Santa Rita Estates exhibited at ProWein 2019 in Dusseldorf. Santa Rita’s sustainability director, Elena Carretero, exhibited the Chilean wine powerhouse’s latest innovation – a rosé in a can that aims to capitalise on the growing popularity of canned wines around the world.

Meanwhile, chief winemaker Labbé presented his new red and white field blends in the Floresta range.

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