Despite drought and Covid, Almaviva 2020 ‘spectacular’

Drought and the spread of Covid has encouraged Chilean fine wine Almaviva to harvest a touch earlier to create a “spectacular” wine with “a bit of tension”, the estate’s new MD tells db.

During an exclusive interview yesterday with Manuel Louzada, who officially took up the post of Viña Almaviva managing director in December last year, it became apparent that this top Chilean wine’s 2020 expression has taken a step towards a slightly fresher style, in part encouraged by an urge to harvest before the coronavirus lockdowns began in South America.

Recording drought conditions during the 2019-2020 growing season at the Almaviva estate, which is located in the Maipo Andes sub region of Puente Alto, he said that just 65mm of rainfall, along with high temperatures, had ensured that grape maturity was “advanced” in comparison with previous harvests.

However, such conditions, which prompted an unusually early start date to grape picking, turned out to be highly beneficial for a vintage fashioned in the Covid-19 era.

“I was concerned because there was no water and the temperatures were high, but in the end, nature was our biggest friend because we started the harvest one week after the first case of coronavirus appeared in Chile,” he recalled.

Continuing, he said “We started harvesting the Merlot on 13 March, because [Almaviva winemaker] Michel Friou said we need to, he had been tasting the grapes in the vineyard and he felt that ripeness was going in the right direction, but he was also seeing what was happening in the rest of the world, and wanted to make sure that we got all the grapes picked before the pandemic.”

Not only was the picking start date earlier, but the length of the harvest was shorter, and, as a result, Louzada told db that Almaviva’s 2020 wines were 4-6 weeks ahead in their development compared to normal.

In terms of quality, he said that “The wines are spectacular, the ripeness is there, and there is a bit of tension, we have a bit more acidity because we harvested a bit earlier.”

He also said that “It is a very important harvest because it is the 25th harvest at Almaviva, and, now we can say that it is an exceptional vintage.”

He added, “The wines this year are a bit more vertical, and we are going towards a situation where elegance is more important then weight, and this year was the right year to go a step forward.”

Almaviva was established in 1996 by Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton-Rothschild and Concha y Toro. Their aim was to create the first Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé equivalent in Chile using grapes from the best Puente Alto vineyards.

Almaviva is sold through La Place de Bordeaux, with the 2017 vintage (pictured above) released in September last year.

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