Roberto de la Mota (pictured), talented and experienced winemaker at Mendel Wines, in which he is also a partner, and previously head winemaker at Terrazas de los Andes, sends this very positive report on the Mendoza 2013 harvest. For reviews of several Mendel wines, including the excellent 2010 vintage of their top wine, Unus, see The Americas - our collected works.
The 2013 harvest was characterised by a good crop, especially in the fresh zones of the centre of the region and in the Uco Valley and other high-altitude areas, showing a higher average yield than last year. This year's harvest was delayed, above all in the red grapes, despite having shown advanced maturity at the beginning of the white wine harvest, and more still in the fruit for the sparkling base. The white wines have good aromatic intensity, medium body and good acidity; while the reds are of good colour, intense aroma, fresh and even floral, with medium concentration of tannins and medium body, with a good acidity which confers freshness. If we had to compare 2013 with previous harvests, I would say it's more like 2010 than 2011 or 2012.
In general the budding of the vineyards was very good, with a stable climate, fresh mornings and sunny days, without rains, strong winds or frost. The spring continued with excellent conditions, despite some Zonda winds (hot and dry), bringing generally good flowering and fruit setting and resulting in a good quantity of bunches per plant. These, in turn, had a good quantity of grapes.
December and January were warm, as was the first part of February, but March and April were characterised by temperate days and very chilly nights. These were excellent conditions, typical of a Mendozan autumn, to assure good-quality grapes.
The warmth of the start of summer meant veraison was early, and everything pointed to an early harvest. This was true only in the first white grapes, but not in those destined for still wines and in chilly areas (higher altitude). The first weeks of February were also warm, but not the end, which like March was chilly. In this month there were some significant storms, including hail, which affected specific zones of Mendoza, the Uco Valley and also Luján de Cuyo. Although some of them caused grave damage in certain properties, the effects were not generalised enough to diminish the volume of the harvest.
Maturity measuring devices, such as Dyostem, showed a somewhat delayed 'stop of charge' (the moment in which the plant stops accumulating sugars from photosynthesis in the berry - all later increase in sugar is due to loss of water in the berry), with a higher level of potential alcohol than in 2012. This means that the qualitative potential of the grapes was generally very good. (That is to say, grapes with a good richness of components, including colour and tannins.)
The white grape harvest started at the end of January and beginning of February for the warm zones and in March for chillier areas with excellent vine health. The quality was also very good, and though it is difficult to generalise, we could say that the level of concentration and of aromatic intensity was similar or somewhat superior to 2012. In addition to a very good freshness, the levels of acidity are higher and the alcohol is somewhat lower than in the last harvest. For Mendel Semillon de Altamira the 2013 was excellent, very fresh, floral with acacia notes together with dried fruits and good volume and structure in mouth, similar alcohol and more acidity than in 2012.
The reds arrived late, despite predictions at the beginning of the white grape harvest. Depending on the vineyard, between 10 and 15 days later than average. Although we initially believed that good yields might mean a year of less concentration in red wines, we have observed grapes of very good colour, aromatic intensity and tannin quantity. Having had the opportunity to taste wines in different parts of Luján and the Uco Valley, I am sure of an excellent wine quality. Fruity and floral Malbecs, quite fresh, with well-present and sufficiently mature tannins, wines of medium to high body and perhaps less meaty than in 2012.
Other varieties such as Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon also show great potential. It is possible that because of the year's characteristics, some very productive vineyards will show some level of dilution, but those are certainly isolated cases. Comparing this year's harvest with that of previous years, we can say that it is more similar to 2007 or 2008 than to 2009 or 2011.
For Mendel it was a great year of higher than average volume, with special quality of fruit in the Malbec and Petit Verdot, similar to the year before for the Cabernet Sauvignon. It is worth mentioning that this year we produced some Merlot and Cabernet Franc for the first time and the results are promising.