Chile’s 2018 vintage has been tipped by several winemakers as one of the best in recent years, with a good crop, moderate temperatures and relatively few weather-related dramas expected to produce balanced wines in many regions.
Chile 2018 vintage: ‘A year of finesse’
Timing of the harvest was back to normal, a relief following the hot and early harvest of 2017, and maturation periods were steady without any extreme events.
‘We had a cold and wet winter,’ De Martino winemaker Eduardo Jordan told Decanter.com, who produces wine around the country.
‘A warm spring brought excellent bud break. The moderate and cool month of March was very positive for accumulating sugars slowly and without losing acidity – key to obtaining balanced wines. The vineyards achieved excellent quality – with good natural acidity, moderate alcohol and good colour. 2018 is a year of finesse!’
It is always difficult to generalise, but all of Chile’s major production regions have so far reported a good year for wine quality and average to above average yields.
Official figures haven’t been released yet, but it is estimated 2018’s harvest was approximately 1.1 billion kilos, which is in-line with the annual average and a 20% increase from last year.
Northern and coastal Chile did particularly well this year, following some much-needed winter rains that reduced the ever-present drought threat.
‘It rained more than 400mm in the winter, which was very good because water is becoming more scarce each year,’ said Rodrigo Soto, of Veramonte in Casablanca.
‘I believe this is a great vintage… but it is premature to draw conclusions already. The quality looks good and the yield has been better than the last few years.’
In the south, it was a refreshingly uneventful vintage for some. ‘This year, after four complicated years [with frost, rain and fires], we have had a relatively normal year,’ said Torres winemaker Fernando Almeda.
‘A fresh year with normal yields. The white wines have an excellent preservation of acidity, making expressive wines with tension and freshness. The red wines have lower alcohol levels with tension that should develop well with ageing.’
As producers in Curicó, Itata and Maule continue to assess the effects of smoke taint from the extensive bush fires at the end of 2017’s harvest, the promising 2018 vintage is even more welcome.