I am just back from 3 months in Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. I wanted to update everyone and give you my impression on South America’s harvest, which just finished.
Vineyards around Ensenada, Mexico got record rainfall this winter. Somewhere close to 27 inches! This will likely make the dry-farmed vineyards quite healthy this summer. Expect grape productions to raise. As long as the summer is not too much of a scorcher, quality should be the best in a long while as well. Look for a run of good Jubileo starting with the 2009 harvest and with a hopeful repeat in 2010.
Uruguay, had some early harvest rains so Merlot in particular was not in the best condition. Albariño and Tannat, two popular offerings from our supplier Bouza, did however fare better. So not to despair.
Chile had good weather, but the harvest was down by close to 12%. Because of the earthquake, some production facilities withstood damage and were not operating at full capacity. Tabali, reported no damage and experienced a cool, dry harvest with maximum hang-time for the grapes.
Argentina had another very hot summer, one notable rainy week and then prolonged cool, dry weather. Those that knew to wait, were rewarded with perfect Brix and even phenolic ripeness and extreme dark skins due to the cold nights. Those that picked in a hurry, thinking that 2010 was going to be a replay of 2008 got grapes with marginal ripeness and poor color.
We at Bodega Calle had several heated discussions with growers wanting to harvest in a hurry. In the end, our calm in the storm paid off and we were rewarded with lots of Reserve quality wine. Even though we will make more Reserva Ca de Calle this year than ever. Alberti 154 is likely to be rewarded with lots of premium juice that really grades more into the $20 retail range rather than the $14.99/bot value we strive to hit (or exceed in this case). This reminds me what a good deal Alberti 154 is considering that most sell the product for $12.99 retail.
It is my hope one day that our wines will sell for a bit more on the shelf than they do now. Our wines spare no expense and are completely hand picked and selected and made with the use of gravity flow. We will hold the low pricing as long as we can so that everyone can try them. However, grape prices grew by between 30-50%, inflation while holding constant, currently is close to 30% on the year. Things don’t bode well for us holding pricing much longer, but we will try.