Argentina 2019 harvest: Excellent vintage across the board

Some winemakers are calling 2019 their best vintage of the decade, but market woes and a cooler climate meant a slight drop in production compared to last year.

A cold winter and dry summer characterised the 2019 harvest across the board in Argentina offering balanced and concentrated wines. With the total crush standing at 2.4 billion kilograms of grapes (compared to 2.5 in 2018), production was slightly lower in 2019, with only 73% of Argentina’s wineries actually producing wine this year.

Mendoza, home to 70% of Argentina’s production, experienced a cold winter with a cool spring, although the summer brought a quick escalation in temperatures with peaks of over 40°C during January and February. Fortunately, a cooler March and April slowed down ripening times and brought harvest times in line with the average, albeit with a slightly lower yield.

‘We expected the harvest to be larger than usual, but the combination of dry weather and cool climate resulted in yields slightly lower than the norm,’ explains head winemaker at Catena Zapata, Alejandro Vigil. ‘The cooler climate made for highly concentrated wines with great colour and acidity.’

Juanfa Suarez, who has 60 hectares in Altamira in the Uco Valley agrees that this was a notable vintage: ‘2019 is a great year – the wines are showing a lot of character and freshness,’ he told Decanter.com.

‘It was a fresh and dry year, ideal for wines with lower alcohol and higher acidity.’

In San Rafael, white wines are particularly promising: ‘White wines this year have a much higher level of malic acid and lower sugar content,’ said winemaker Leo Borsi. ‘We’ll see more austere white wines which can age well.’

Further south, Rio Negro experienced a similar weather pattern: ‘Overall, the summer was fresh with some brief peaks in temperature, the conditions were good,’ said Noemia winemaker Hans Vinding-Diers.

‘The reds have a great colour intensity and are fruity and fresh with very silky tannins and the wines are very well balanced. It has been an exceptional year.’

In the north, the vintage was considered normal with a good quality and even pacing of the harvest.

‘It was a really good year and very dry year as per normal,’ Piattelli winemaker Valeria Antolin told Decanter.com. ‘We were able to harvest our grapes in a much more condensed time, which enabled us to harvest at the right time for the variety.’