The 2010 Harvest is all about low quantity and high quality. If there was ever a year to show that low yields matter for quality, 2010 was it. The good news is that many thousands of hectares of new vineyards were planted in the last five years, and these vineyards are coming into production, so total volume is actually up overall from last year.
The low yields are due to a cold spring that delayed bud break and some scattered frosts that led to uneven flowering in many areas. January and February were quite warm and there were no rains after mid February. Perfectly ripe, healthy grapes with great concentration have characterized this vintage. The snowmelt from the Andes was pure and plentiful. Because of the cold spring, the harvest was late in most regions; 10-15 days later than average.
The areas most affected by the spring frosts, Ugarteche and Anchoris in Lujan de Cuyo and Altamira in La Consulta in the Uco Valley, saw yields reduced significantly between 20 and 80%. Agrelo and Perdriel in Lujan de Cuyo and Gualtallary and Tupungato in the Uco Valley were less affected, with yields only down about 10-20% in average. The East was not significantly affected by frost, but summer hail was ubiquitous and growers without hail netting saw yields down 50-80% - a true natural disaster.
Our overall yields are down 20-25%. Fortunately, the now 6-10 year old [it was planted in phases] Angelica Sur vineyard in Eugenio Bustos, is just glorious, and the Malbec from there has been a welcome addition to the Catena program over the last two years.
It is hard to complain about the low yields when you taste and see the concentration and richness of the wines in the tanks and barrels.
Chardonnay: La Piramide Vineyard (Agrelo) Feb 20; Adrianna Vineyard (Gualtallary) April 6- 24 (this is later than usual; march and april were so cool, that brix barely rose, minerality and acidity were retained and we harvested at 24 brix).
Malbec: Angelica Vineyard (Maipu) and La Piramide Vineyard (Agrelo) Vineyards, started March 11-20, several passes by lots up until April 6; Nicasia (Altamira in La Consulta) April 28-May 4, later than usual because of the very cold spring; Adrianna (Gualtallary) March 15 - April 26 lot by lot harvest, brix were never higher than 24.5.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc: loved the cold spring and low yields. The quality was truly extra-ordinary. Harvest ranged from early April in Lujan de Cuyo to early May in the Uco Valley.
Cabernet Sauvignon: La Piramide Vineyard (Agrelo) April 6 (sandy areas), May 6 (clay areas). Domingo Vineyard (Villa Bastias, Tupungato) 15-19 April. Adrianna Vineyard (Gualtallary) April 5 - May 6. Angelica Sur Vineyard (Eugenio Bustos) April 15-25, sandy soils with a touch of clay, we are finding Eugenio Bustos to be a particularly good terroir for Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cooler than usual weather and no rain after mid February. The yields here were only down by 10% but the quality is extraordinary due to the cool weather and dry air of the season.DOMINGO VINEYARD: Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon - Villa Bastías, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, 3675 ft elevation
Yields down 15% from avg. Perfectly healthy grapes and tannin ripeness.ADRIANNA VINEYARD: Malbec, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc - Gualtallary, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, 4757 ft elevation
Yields down 15-20%. Sometimes the Cabernets are a bit tannic from this vineyard, but not in 2010. It is extraordinary to see how concentrated and velvety the wines are, likely due to the health of the vines, no rain after mid feb- and the late harvest, polymerization, smooth tannins.NICASIA VINEYARD: Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon - Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza, 3593 ft elevation
Nicasia Vineyard (Altamira in La Consulta): Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Yields were down 30% but everything else was up, up, up: tannins, concentration, richness. The weather cooled off in April and with no rains this meant that brix barely changed from mid March to mid April. Angelica Sur (Eugenio Bustos): Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. This vineyard, flanked by nearby hills is remote. There is very little population in this area. It is hard to believe that the Cabernet Sauvignon from these young vineyards (6-10 years old) can be so true to varietal, rich, concentrated and long. Yields were down 20% in the region.