|2002 Harvest main page|
In Chile, the 2002 vintage is a tale of two halves: the North and the South. The country's northern wine-regions fared quite well, but heavy rains in the southern valleys caused the spread of rot that damaged a substantial part of the grape crop.
"2002 will be a vintage with a lot of ups and downs," noted Laurence Odfjell of Odfjell winery in Maipo. "[It] will show the degree of commitment to quality of different producers: Who will accept a short-term hit in order not to affect the long-term goals of a quality program? The really great grapes are more scarce than in previous years."
Chile's high quality regions in the north -- including the Aconcagua and Casablanca valleys, and the Maipo and Rapel (which encompasses Colchagua) valleys in the northern part of the Central Valley -- saw little to no rain during harvest.
Alvaro Espinoza, who runs his own Maipo-based Antiyal winery and consults for others, said, "In Maipo and Casablanca, and some parts of Colchagua,  was a good year with low yields -- 20 to 25 percent lower than normal."
The grapes were harvested fairly early thanks to hot days in late February and early March in Casablanca and Aconcagua, and mild, dry weather in Maipo and Rapel. Growers reported that their Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from these regions was of particularly good quality.
Matias Lecaros, winemaker for Viña Carmen, noted that the North's milder, "fresher" weather in 2002 was a benefit over the more stressful weather of 2001. "We didn't have problems with 'burning' the grapes, and the ripening was slower, keeping the aromas and acidity and improving concentration," he said.
Yet in the South, harvesttime rains hit the large Itata and Bío-bío valleys, as well as the southern half of the country's prime Central Valley. In the Curicó and Maule valleys, 4 inches of rain fell in just two days. The rain caused the spread of rot, and both Lecaros and winemaker Aurelio Montes of Viña Montes reported that anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent of the grape crop was affected in these regions.
Ignacio Recabarren, who makes the outstanding Domus Aurea Cabernet for Viña Quebrada de Macul, as well as the Terrunyo line for Concha y Toro, summed up the dichotomy by noting that 2002 is a very difficult year, in which "producers will make the difference."
Read last year's harvest report:
Read James Molesworth's most recent tasting report on Chile:
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