|2003 Harvest main page|
As in Argentina, Chile's premier wine regions felt the effects of El Niño late in 2002, but not during the ripening months or harvest in 2003. A rainy winter and cool spring led to a late budding, but the weather turned warm and dry for most of the summer.
"We had one of the most wonderful ends of summer of the past 10 years," said Aurelio Montes, co-owner and winemaker of Viña Montes, one of Chile's top wineries, which has facilities in Curicó and Colchagua.
In the 2003 vintage, the weather patterns and quality were nearly uniform throughout Chile. That contrasted dramatically with the 2002 vintage, when rain during harvest severely affected the valleys from southern Rapel through Curicó, while regions farther north -- from Maipo up to Aconcagua and Casablanca -- saw excellent conditions.
This year, February was warm, March was cool, and Indian summer-like conditions extended through April. This allowed the development of "mature flavors [while] maintaining the acidity, without raising sugars too quickly," said winemaker Rafael Tirado of Veramonte in Casablanca.
Producers in the Maipo and Rapel -- the qualitative heart of Chile's red-wine production -- are pleased with their hallmark grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère and Syrah. "The wines are showing very well," said Álvaro Espinoza, owner and winemaker of Antiyal in Maipo, and a consultant for several other wineries.
"The ripening of the grapes was slow, which is good for the phenolic maturation," said Arnaud Hereau, winemaker at Odfjell Vineyards in Maipo. "The skins of the grapes were thick, [with] nice flavor, nice acidity."
Casa Lapostolle winemaker Michel Friou tasted berries during harvest that were "very tasty, with lots of character and concentration," he said. "It might be a bit early to evaluate the quality, but we have the feeling that 2003 could be a great year."
Read last year's harvest report:
Read James Molesworth's most recent tasting report on Chile:
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