Well, we had planned on regaling you with an explainer on co-fermentation and why its “ancient science,” once confined to the Côte Rôtie, is enjoying a revival in the new world.

But that’ll have to wait till next week.

This week we find ourselves marooned and thirsty, once again, in the global shipping jam we’ve been contending with since 2020.

According to Sea-Intelligence, schedule reliability in shipping is “so far out of balance that there is no historical precedent fully describing this situation.”

They further predict that it could take another 8 to 9 months before things return to normal as COVID passes from pandemic to endemic.

After our first major shipping delay back in 2020, we adapted and largely avoided the major delays and price hikes that have crippled others in the wine industry.

Yet, we were recently dealt a devilish twist when, like a Chinese snakehead fish, the jam figured out how to wriggle its way onto land. We got word that while our container had made it off the ship...it was now caught in a container jam at the port.

Well played!

Fortunately, our man in Argentina, Diego, had some good news to share from our partners in the Calchaquí.

More on that in a moment. But first… Why does wine need to be stored in the dark?

This week, Julien explains the threat of “light strike”... why light makes wine smell bad… how long various bottle styles can resist sunlight… and how to keep your wines safe in your home (even without a wine cellar)...

A Harvest Report from the Calchaquí cont'd.

In the Calchaquí Valley the harvest - la cosecha - has begun! Just the whites for now; the reds should follow suit in two to four weeks. 

The 2022 vintage will be known for the fact that it was a wet season. Rain is a mixed bag for Calchaquí winemakers. On the one hand, the 2021 vintage came dangerously close to annihilation due to drought so rain is always welcome. On the other hand, wet grapes are hard to keep healthy when you don’t use chemical herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides (as is the case for many Calchaquí winemakers). You have to regularly inspect every single bunch and cut anything that looks suspicious.

Still the consensus is that the crop came out well - look out for fresh fruit and accentuated red berry flavors (look to the 2016 vintage for the closest comparison).

In the upper valley, out at Tacuil, Raúl Dávalos’ season didn’t get off to a great start. His vines were hit with a late season frost in October. Yet, surprisingly, no lasting damage was done. 

Compounding his luck, the spring was calm and windless (the winds in the Calchaquí can be so strong locals say they “drive the oxygen away”). While others worried about the summer rains, Raúl welcomed them as they held down temperatures and allowed for a slow, measured maturation. The rains also pushed down temperatures at night, a key phenomenon of Calchaquí winemaking. Low nightly temperatures put the grape into a sort of stasis that stops sugars and acids that are built up during the day by the intense sun from breaking down.

Meanwhile in the lower valley, winemaker Daniel Guillen (of Piloto de Prueba from last year’s Calchaquí Collection and El Viticultor from the collection currently stuck at port) reports that while the heavy rains diluted some of the white grapes planted in the area, the reds are “excellent.” He avoided the late winter frost, but the cold nevertheless pushed back his growing season. The rains lengthened it, giving the grapes a little more time to mature. The result is that grapes reached polyphenolic perfection in their skins a couple weeks before the sugar content had reached its usual heights. Thus the wines should be fresh, flavorful, but lower in alcohol than usual. 

A low alcohol Calchaquí malbec - that would certainly be a first.

Nos vemos,

The Wine Explorer

Bonner Private Wine Partnership