As the first very cold days of this 2021 autumn begin, we can draw some conclusions of the 2021 vintage, which had various seasonings from the start of the season. During the first days of October, a strong frost made us think in a small harvest, but as the days went by we saw that, with the exception of some areas that were more exposed to the cold, most of the vineyards had good amounts of grape.
After a spring with temperatures slightly higher than the historic average, summer months (January to March) were notably cooler and, in February, rainfall was abundant. In consequence, the ripening was slow, overlapping in two weeks the last white grapes with the beginning of the Malbec grapes for young wines. In terms of quality, we can assure that it was an excellent season for the white varieties and for Malbec in reds. While some long cycle varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon and Bonarda had uneven results.
The season began with sprouting within normal dates (September 29 for Malbec of Luján de Cuyo). By flowering the cycle was running ahead for a few days (November 4) and for veraison, which occurred on January 13 for this same variety, the cycle was ahead by 5 to 7 days. However, and due to the shift in the trend of weather that went with the arrival of 2021, the ripening process was delayed and determined that both whites as well as many red vineyards were harvested 1 to 3 weeks after the historic average.
In the following graph we can see that the 2020 – 2021 season (red line) was slightly warmer in spring and cooler in summer tan the historic average (blue line). The bars in the graph show this difference in °C. As for the previous season (2019 – 2020, grey line), we can see that this season was fresher for the most of it (November to March).
Registered rainfall during the season (October to April) were slightly inferior than the historic average (270 mm vs 286 mm) however its distribution was highly uneven, with three rainy months (November, January and February), while the rest of the months were dryer than the historic average. Curiously, the rainfall accumulation dynamic was very similar to the past season.
Luján de Cuyo
Whites: White wines presented very good varietal typicity in general. In the case of Chardonnay, we find very nice natural acidity and lots of freshness, while the Sauvignon Blanc shows citric and tropical aromas, with subtle herbal notes. In the mouth, they show medium concentration.
Reds: Red wines present medium color intensity. Aromatically they show lots of fruit with a presence of spiced and herbal notes similar to previous years. In the mouth, the tannins are very soft and round, with a concentration that is alike what we are used to.
Whites: The White wines of the Uco Valley present high quality, given mainly by a great aromatic expression and good volume in the mouth.
In the case of Riesling, this year we can find, in addition to its typical notes of white flowers and citric, marked mineral gunpowder notes. When tasting, we find a long finish.
This year the Sauvignon Blanc is very aromatic with notes of rue and citric that complement with other more mature notes of white peach and soft passion fruit. Hints of mint and mineral notes in the back allow for a complex bouquet. The volume in the palate is mid to full.
The Chardonnay show citric, tropical and mineral notes, with high complexity. In the mouth, we can expect unctuous wines of marked freshness.
Reds: we achieved wines of great color and a fresher aromatic profile than past seasons. They present notes of red and black fruits, very mineral, and slightly less spiced than the 2019 and 2020 vintages. There is a larger concentration of aromas and a fuller body in the grapes coming from stony soils, as some areas in Gualtallary, compared with areas of deeper and sandy soils like El Cepillo, where the abundant rainfall of January and February led to elegant but less concentrated wines.
The variety that stands out the most in the Uco Valley is Malbec, with notes of blackberry, wild herbs and very marked mineral notes in calcareous soils. The Cabernet Franc of stony soils have great aromatic expression, but with less body and alcoholic graduation than in other years. As for Cabernet Sauvignon, we will have to wait for ageing evolution. The cold summer in high altitude vineyards was a combination that challenged the full ripening of the seeds and skinks of this variety. Time will tell if these vegetable notes can transform into freshness and juiciness or if, definitely, we will have to wait until the next vintage to find the best version of this varietal.
After dealing with some obstacles as the spring frosts and the abundant summer rains, the slow ripening enabled by a fresh summer allowed to harvest grapes that present very expressive white and red wines, of medium to high concentration. Maybe for some long cycle red varieties of the Uco Valley this will not be an unforgettable year but, even so, we will have some Malbecs that will make history.
Winemaker and Viticultor