The 2009 season a long one for most Chilean producers with harvest starting in February and running until May.
It was also the driest season in the past decade enabling late ripening varieties including Carmenere to reach maturity. However, a heat spike February/early March rushed some whites to ripeness and were harvested early.
It was also a larger harvest than 2008 but quality should be good in those vineyards, which took care to crop thin after the dry weather led to a bumper fruit set. Matias Rios, winemaker at Cono Sur says ‘we had to be very careful when adjusting production levels to avoid over-cropping especially in the white varieties. Those who did a good job in this area are assured great final quality in their wines.’
Winemakers got the winter rains they had prayed for, after a dry winter in 2007/08.
In Maule, VIA reports 630mm of rain fell compared to just 340mm the previous year. There were no spring frosts or rains to contend with, so a very successful fruit set meant yields were potentially very high so producers had to crop thin.
The summer was dry: Colchagua’s Caliterra reports it was more than eight months between the last rain of winter and the first rain of autumn. There were few mildew or rot problems but irrigation was needed throughout the season.
High temperatures during the day, particularly in late February and early March, led to an early harvest in many regions. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay grapes ripened two weeks earlier than usual to avoid high sugar levels and low acidity.
Volumes will be up around 10%-20% this year in most regions thanks to abundant winter rainfall and great fruit set. Rios says ‘there was a normal to high yield in white varieties– especially with those producers who didn’t adjust their production levels on time – while the red varieties’ levels were very normal.’