After Back-to-Back Difficult Vintages, Chile's 2018 Harvest Brings Relief

Vintners are thrilled with quality this year following the fire-plagued 2017 and rainy 2016
After Back-to-Back Difficult Vintages, Chile's 2018 Harvest Brings Relief
Across Chile the growing season was ideal, ending with a rain-free harvest.
Jul 11, 2018

Chile's winemakers are savoring a return to normal yields and potentially high-quality wine with the 2018 vintage after the heat- and fire-plagued 2017 growing season and rainy, cool weather in 2016.

"The wines are presenting very good color, rich tannins and good concentrations," said Marcelo Papa, the technical director for Concha y Toro, the South American nation's largest winery. "After two low-producing harvests, in 2016 due to the rains and in 2017 mainly due to the heat, we have a normal crop in terms of production and of very good quality."

Overall, the vintage was dry and cool throughout the growing season, but with enough heat in the end to fully ripen grapes. The winter was rainy, followed by fresh weather in the spring that was interspersed with some rainfall. Temperatures in the Pacific, which is the predominant influence on Chile's climate, were slightly lower than normal. Summer was dry, though coastal fogs were persistent and helped moderate temperatures. There was no rain during harvest.

"We had a rainy 2017 winter after four years with very low rainfall. Temperatures were moderate," said Fernando Almeda, winemaker at Miguel Torres. "Spring was also rainy but easygoing, with no big frosts. In late spring and early summer, the La Niña influence got strong, with lower temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.

"Overall, white grapes had slow sugar accumulation and maintained acidity," Almeda added. "The wines show pure fruit nature, fresh- and tense-styled wines. Red grapes have lower alcoholic percentage than usual, with varietal character and a leaner style."

According to Papa, who harvests from multiple regions, vineyards in the coastal areas, such as Limarí, Casablanca and Leyda, ripened later than normal, producing a few more tons per acre. "The wines show very good natural acidity, elegance and good typicity," he said. "Interior regions and areas near the Andes Mountains, such as Maipo, Rapel and Maule, the delay in maturity was less marked and the vineyards matured extraordinarily well."

"The [2018] harvest for me was flawless, without any problem such as rain, wildfires, hailstorms during spring, like previous seasons," concurred Matias Cruzat, of Chile's value-priced 1865 brand, part of Viña San Pedro. "We expect great quality in red wines, especially in Cabernet Sauvignon. In the Maipo Valley [Chile's heartland for Cabernet] we had a slow ripening season, with no heat waves like 2017. So in that regard we have nice natural acidity, great color, the perfect sugar content for balanced wines in the palate and really nice fruit [aromas]."

Aurelio Montes of Montes winery echoed the enthusiasm. "The 2018 harvest has been an amazing one," he said. "All over the country, from Elqui to Itata, things went very well, and we could patiently wait for the correct ripeness and development of color and flavors," he added. "In my history as a winemaker, I've never seen such a harvest fairly big in volume and outstanding in quality."


Stay on top of important wine stories with Wine Spectator's free Breaking News Alerts.

More Southern Harvest 2018

See More

Argentina's Vintners Say 2018 Harvest Delivers Best Quality Since 2013

Jun 15, 2018

New Zealand Winemakers Call 2018 a Challenging Year that Delivered Promising Wines

May 21, 2018

Australian Winemakers Are Thrilled with the 2018 Harvest

May 8, 2018

South Africa's 2018 Wine Harvest Is Smallest in Over a Decade

Apr 13, 2018

Harvest Chile 2018 Southern Harvest 2018 News

You Might Also Like

Spill at Rodney Strong Winery Sends More than 46,000 Gallons of Cabernet into Russian River

Spill at Rodney Strong Winery Sends More than 46,000 Gallons of Cabernet into Russian River

In California's Sonoma County, a mechanical malfunction allowed red wine to flow; authoriti…

Jan 28, 2020
America's Top 13 Charity Wine Auctions Raised $44.1 Million in 2019

America's Top 13 Charity Wine Auctions Raised $44.1 Million in 2019

Naples Winter Wine Festival topped the list for the fifth year in a row, as children's …

Jan 27, 2020
Washington Winemakers Devise Battle Plan for Phylloxera in Vineyards

Washington Winemakers Devise Battle Plan for Phylloxera in Vineyards

While the vine pest has been found in Walla Walla, experts say it can be slowed

Jan 22, 2020
Moderate Wine Consumption Linked to Greater Life Expectancy

Moderate Wine Consumption Linked to Greater Life Expectancy

A new Harvard study found that people who exercised regularly, ate a healthy diet and drank …

Jan 22, 2020
The Coming of Pink Prosecco

The Coming of Pink Prosecco

Good or bad, it’s happening

Jan 21, 2020
Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Owners Buy Napa’s Flora Springs Winery

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Owners Buy Napa’s Flora Springs Winery

Bordeaux's Cathiard family plans to launch a new venture; the Komes and Garvey families …

Jan 21, 2020
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search