When we picture the vineyards in our head, usually we think about an idyllic view of the perfect summer afternoon, with golden light, green leaves and bunches of grapes hanging from the vines. This just a one single day, but let not forget that a vine has its annual cycle and goes through the changes all year long.
Each vintage is different and it expresses itself in the wine. The final result we can see, smell and taste. However, why some vintages we call extraordinary? What are the factors that influences so much the vines? I invite you to travel back in time, to witness one year of the vineyards.
Let start from the basics. We have some factors that are constant, such as: location of the vineyard, its geological conditions, type of climate (continental, coastal, Mediterranean etc.) and type of strains growing in the vineyards.
And what is variable? Of course, some climatic parameters: number of sunny days; amount of rainfall or drought; presence of extreme and unusual conditions such as frost, hail, strong wind etc.; these factors, all together, decide the quality of the vintage. Concha y Toro, in this sense, was blessed in 2018 with a perfect year and we recognized this vintage as extraordinary. Did you like Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere 2017? I am sure that yes, it is a silky and elegant wine. But when you taste the same wine of the Extraordinary 2018 Vintage, you will feel a difference and an explosion of freshness, balance, notes of red fruits and especially tremendous expression of the wine in the mouth.
The year in the vineyards begins during the winter, when the vines sleep. In winter 2017 which is the beginning of our extraordinary vintage, the vineyards received a pleasant rain. The very pure Andean rain oxygenates the soils, so that the roots of vines have water reserves for future months and also its easier for them to absorb the nutrients present in the soil. Although the vine looks in the winter months like is completely asleep, make no mistake. Inside there is life. This is a good time to perform cleanings and changes that help the plant reborn in the spring.
The most common practice in the winter months is pruning. It is essential for the quality of the harvest. Regulates growth, promotes productivity and encourages good maturation. Pruning begins immediately after harvest, as soon as the leaves begin to fall.
Its main objective is to encourage the sap to flow towards the fruit buds. Outbreaks require a uniform distribution of the sap for vigorous growth, but excess sap can compromise productivity. Ideally, there should be a good balance of vigor and productivity, two conflicting requirements that cannot be easily reconciled.
In spring the plants are waking up from hibernation. Bind work begins. The buds are wrapped around the support cables and then joined with paper-covered wire or some other biodegradable fixation. Tying is done by hand and requires agile fingers.
The first spring job is to desucker the vines: eliminate non-fruitful shoots (“sprouts”). This encourages the vine to focus its energy on fruit buds. In the middle of spring (May in the northern hemisphere, November in Chile) the shoots are 50 cm long. Now they must be raised from the ground and joined vertically to the cables that are about 30 cm above the main support cables.
This vertical positioning of the shoots is what gives the vines their architecture. June / December is the time of lattice: separate the shoots and stapling them to the cables. This prevents the leaves from piling together, allowing maximum light penetration and also encouraging air circulation that prevents rot.
The climate now plays a decisive role in crop quality. Spring 2018 was a real privilege; it hardly rained and the temperatures were well balanced, with warm sunny days and cooler nights. The vines had perfect conditions to bloom and develop their fruits.
During the summer months, just when the grapes begin to change color (severe), they are observed and controlled. Each harvest is different in terms of grape maturity, potential alcohol levels and natural acidity, so it is essential to choose the right time for the harvest. In the summer of 2018 we observe a great oscillation of temperatures, with dry days and cool nights. That is a key factor for grapes to change color and ripen at their own slow pace.
All year we wait for the harvest time. And here we are with the grapes ready to pick. During the 2018 harvest, the temperatures were moderate and the nights and early mornings were very cool. This was very important for the red varieties, which are characterized by an explosion of aromas that invites us to taste wines
with tremendous floral and fruity expression, balance and complexity.
Discover the Extraordinary 2018 Vintage in the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Pinot Noir, Malbec, y Syrah varieties of Gran Reserva Serie Riberas, Casillero del Diablo, Marques de Casa Concha and Trio!