The budding period from 2015-2016 seasons came in very late, 3 weeks later than the average. Then, for those Malbec from Luján de Cuyo which budding usually occurs towards the end of September, this year took place in the middle of October. This delay remained practically the entire season, like flowering that took place in our vineyards in December- something that has never happened before. The same happened with the veraison in both white and red varieties which occurred at the beginning of February instead of mid-January. Something particular happened during harvest: the white varieties continued to be delayed for 3 weeks in the harvest date; the red varieties suffered a lower delay, especially those grapes that on previous normal years tend to be late such as Malbec and Cabernet Franc from the Uco Valley. In fact, as for the Cabernet Franc in Gualtallary (Finca Alluvia) it was harvested with an excellent maturity at the beginning of April, 15 days before the historic date. Finally, due to a 21% lower-volume harvest in our vineyards (43% lower for Mendoza) and to the persistent rainfall the harvest ended on April 23rd, 7 days before the average from previous years.
The delay throughout the growing season of the vines was due to an extremely cold spring. October was 5 °C colder than normal (see Figure 1), just to approach this difference we should remember that one month with a difference in regards to the historic average of -1 °C can be considered cold. November was also very cold with an average of -3 °C with respect to the historic average, and December -1 °C. During the ripening process February was the only month that showed higher temperature than normal (+ 1.8 °C), being January, March and April also colder than normal. In fact the season was so special that lowered the Winkler category from all of our vineyards in one step, and 2 steps for Alluvia in Gualtallary, Uco Valley. That means that this vineyard changed from an intermediate-warm category (Winkler III) into a cold category (Winkler I).
Average monthly temperatures
This year was unusually wet. “El Niño” phenomenon was one of the strongest ever recorded, which resulted in high relative humidity and the occurrence of rains more frequently. In Figure 2, we can see that during the growing season (October to April) all months were more rainy than normal, except February that was notably dry.
Average rainfall per month
Sauvignon Blanc: presents greatly intense aromas, authenticity and freshness due to the acidity and lower alcohol gradation than other years.
Chardonnay: has a good volume in the mouth, freshness, green apple and floral aromas.
Malbec: overall great color intensity and typical aromas like red fruits, plums and violets can be seen. The alcohol gradation is lower than previous years because of the cold season but there is also a high concentration of tannins.
Cabernet Sauvignon: excellent quality with great aromatic, spicy and berries aromas like cherries. In the mouth they show silky, balanced tannins and a long finish.
2016 harvest can be summarized in three words: scarce, late and very good. It was scarce since the cold spring conditions delayed all the plant physiology for an average of 3 weeks. Also, because of the cold weather some varieties fruit setting like Malbec and Chardonnay was specially affected, notably reducing the yields. Clutches presented less number of grains and this can be noticed in particular at the time of weighing the grape trucks. Rainfalls represented a great challenge for the advance of cultural labors and, in some cases, as the Syrah, had a certain effect on the grapes health and the final quality of the wine. However, generally speaking the quality obtained which has been very good and in some regions as in Gualtallary the harvest can be classified as exceptional for the color of the wine, the marked acidity and very expressive berries aromas.