It is late September in the Peumo vineyard –Cachapoal Valley– and we can already see shoots of 10 centimeters in the Carmenere vines. This time we met with one of the people who best knows this estate, who told us in situ about the arrival of spring.
For Domingo Marchi, agricultural manager in the Rapel zone, the Peumo vineyard is not only a special place; it’s part of his life. He came to take over the administration of this estate 33 years ago, and since then he has played a key role in its development, participating in the process of planting the first Carmenere vines.
From the Peumo estate come the grapes to produce wines for the premium and above segment, such as Casillero del Diablo, Trio, Gran Reserva Serie Riberas, Marques de Casa Concha, Terrunyo and Carmín de Peumo. Of its 650 hectares of vineyards almost half are Carmenere, being the emblem variety of this place, and the resulting wines have gotten the highest scores awarded by international specialized critics.
Throughout the years, Domingo has not stopped admiring the life cycle of these plants, and today he tells us what is happening in the vineyard and, specifically, in parcel 32: “The shoots are about 5 to 10 centimeters long, and you can already see the tiny green grapes. In a week we will begin to do canopy management, which involves removing the shoots from the trunk and branches of the vine, leaving only those carrying fruit. This way, the grapevines focus their energy on fewer shoots, and are able to yield fruit more concentrated in color, aroma and flavor”.
As Carmenere is distinguished from other varieties by the carmine red color of its leaves in autumn, Domingo explains that this variety shows some differences from an early stage: “When the leaves of Carmenere are born they are ‘tan’, they show a copper-like orange color towards the edges; however, in other varieties the leaves are initially rather whitish towards the edges”.
As for the phytosanitary management of these plants, the agricultural manager tells us that the work is focused on “controlling the occurrence of powdery mildew and botrytis, and some insects like spiders and ‘mealybug’, applying environmentally-friendly fungicides and insecticides, since the beginning of bud-break to veraison. And if autumn is rainy, we have to treat the plant for botrytis before harvest”.
Parcel 32 is composed of nine hectares of ultra premium Carmenere, and its grapes are exclusively used to produce the company’s iconic Carmenere, Carmín de Peumo, whose 2011 vintage was recently recognized as “Best Carmenere of the World” by famous American critic Robert Parker.
After the process of bud-break and shoot development, between November 10 and 20 is flowering time, a stage that lasts only 5 to 7 days and marks the beginning of grape development. To see that, we plan to come back at that time and speak with Domingo again. He enjoys walking through these grapevines, and we hope you will be surprised with us while we monitor this cycle.