Harvest 2017: Chile

The story for Chile in 2017 is largely consistent across the board, with warm summer temperatures and drought leading to early harvesting in most areas.

As a result, yields were lower than average (as they were last year), but quality is good, with reds in particular showing high flavour concentration and only requiring delicate extraction.

Buyer Paul Meihuizen said: “The run up to harvest was unseasonably hot which resulted in a number of devastating bush fires. Chile is not used to fires on this scale so getting them under control was a real battle for everyone. Although volumes are once again down on a normal year, thankfully quality looks good, so I am looking forward to some cracking wines from the 2017 vintage.”

Here is a round-up of the harvest by a few of our producers:

Garage - Maule & Maipo Valleys

On the heels of one of the worst bush fires in Chile’s history, Garage also experienced two late spring frosts and a long, hot summer in 2017. But despite these challenges they have high hopes for a terrific vintage in terms of quality.

While the harvest was small it produced fruit of great concentration, and despite the hot summer temperatures, they are actually expecting lower alcohol than normal – perhaps due to the late spring frosts. Garage have always punched down in small tanks, but 2017 was the year of ‘the light touch’. The tiny berries had very little juice and lots of solids, so rigorous punching down to achieve extraction wasn’t necessary.

The resulting wines are expected to have moderate alcohol and tannins along with great fruit concentration.

Santa Rita – multiple regions

Everything happened a little earlier than usual in 2017; from bud break, through to flowering, fruit set, veraison and finally harvest, which finished around the third week in April – the earliest in Santa Rita’s history.

Yields were lower than expected due to the presence of a smaller number of smaller-sized berries on each cluster, rather than a reduction in the number of clusters overall.

But while yields were down, quality has been good, with stand-outs being Chardonnay from Ovalle and Pumanque, Cabernet Sauvignon from Alto Jahuel and Marchigue, Syrah from Ovalle and Apalta, Pumanque Merlot and Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc.

Valdivieso - multiple regions

For the second year in a row, the main concern has been drought and very warm summer temperatures. This was largely mitigated by early harvesting across the board, once grapes had reached phenolic ripeness, but hadn’t yet reached excess sugar levels. This has kept alcohol moderate and retained levels of freshness and acidity.

Yields are down, in places by as much as 60%, but quality overall is very good. The reds are full of flavour, with great concentration and only needed very light extraction. Whites have taken on more tropical notes this year and are full of favour, with great texture.

A few stand-outs are the Casablanca Pinot Noirs, Colchagua Cabernets and the Syrah and Chardonnay from Limari.

For all this year's Southern Hemisphere harvest reports, see our round up.

From her uni wine 'tasting' society to studying for her WSET, Sophia has long had a fondness for all things vinous. So after a few years developing her marketing skills in the financial services industry, she decided to mix business with pleasure by moving into the wine trade. Now she writes, instagrams and podcasts about Bibendum’s portfolio of wines and the fascinating people who make them.

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