Harvest report – 2012
The 2011–2012 season was warm and dry with moderate yields. Compared to last season, this year had higher minimum and maximum average temperatures in February and March and less precipitation between October and April, which led to very healthy grapes but made water management difficult by generating stress in the vines and dehydration of the grapes in some cases.
The low yields for some varieties were mainly due to poor induction of the buds that emerged in spring 2011, caused by low temperatures in November 2010 and throughout the 2010–2011 season. Spring temperatures in 2011 were low during budbreak and flowering, although minimum temperatures rose faster than high temperatures in December and afterward, creating very favourable conditions for optimum fruit set. Average minimum temperatures rose in January while average highs dropped, which led to optimal veraison at approximately 28°C/82°F. Although January is usually the warmest month, this season the highest temperatures were recorded in February (the warmest month in all localities) and March, which accelerated sugar accumulation, especially in the northern zone.
At Viña Errázuriz, yields were down overall by an average of 3% in relation to the Agricultural Plan. The varieties affected most by lower yields were Cabernet Sauvignon (-20.1%) Cabernet Franc (-15.4%), Sauvignon Blanc (-5.3%), and Carmenere (-6.3%). Meanwhile, yields of Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Chardonnay rose by 12%, 4.5%, and 4.3%, respectively.
Data collected from our 7 meteorological stations this season show that the 2011–2012 season had a heat summation in all zones that was higher than last season and the historic average. The increase in temperatures was a major factor in ensuring proper phenolic ripening in late red varieties such as Carmenere, but the biggest challenges were to keep water levels up in the plants (proper irrigation), to prevent solar exposure of the fruit (no leaf pulling), and harvesting early to prevent dehydration of the fruit while maintaining acidity and fruit intensity.
In regard to the season’s effect on the quality of the wines, the whites displayed proper fruit intensity, moderate alcohol, and a lush palate with no phenolic notes. The quality of the Chardonnay is especially outstanding this year.
The reds display vibrant colour, optimum acidity, and good fruit intensity, leading to fruity, well-rounded wines with smooth tannins.