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Harvesting red varieties at Maule Valley

Lourdes Estate of Concha y Toro has just finished one of its best vintages; with grapes that will provide wines of great fruit expression and soft tannins. In the heart of Pencahue, in the central zone of Maule Valley, a large part of the most recognized red wines of the company is born, with special focus on Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties. We share some appreciations of the experts in charge of the largest terroir of the winery, in this term of 2018 harvest.

By Sonia Galleguillos / June 04, 2018
Head of International Press

In the heart of the great climatic diversity and geographic extension that Maule Valley offers, been one of the most important fruit and wine regions of Chile, Lourdes Estate is located, the largest planted vineyard of Concha y Toro.

With 1,030 hectares and more than 15 planted varieties, 96% of them are reds due to the exceptional qualities of Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon in the area. The red wines extracted from this sub-valley of Maule, in Pencahue, offer elegant textures, soft tannins and a great expression of black fruits.

The climate is quite dry and warm in summer, which allows arriving early at harvest time with grapes of intense color and a good maturity. The vines are planted mainly on hillsides, bounded on the south by the Claro River and only 70 km from the Pacific Ocean, which provides a very good ventilation of the vineyards:

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“In Lourdes we have a climate that is a little cold in the spring, but the warmth of summer helps us a lot with our red varieties. Throughout the season, we saw that our vineyards went very well; from its sprouting onwards. As always we expose the sprouts very well, helping the vines to have open vineyards, with good ventilation and sun exposure. Gradually in autumn it gets colder, which helps us to finish our harvests optimally”, explains Alfonso Larraín Vial, Lourdes Estate Manager.

We also found two types of soils quite defined in this area of Maule: granitic and loamy clay soils in places with more hills, limited in depth and somewhat irregular, helping in the final quality of the wines from Lourdes. The other type of soil is much more fertile and deep; mainly francs and with some silt, which also help with varietal lines.

“We believe that it will be a very good year for us: although we started the activities in the vineyards slightly late due to the cold spring, as the months went by, we began to have a very hot summer with very intense heat, which helped us to speed up the ripening process of our vineyards, so we could came out in a very good date. We are very happy with what we have obtained; we have already harvested 100% of our vineyards, with very fresh grapes, a lot of color, and for this reason we believe that this year will be a very good harvest for Lourdes”, says Larraín about the end of the harvest in the largest estate of Concha y Toro.

Héctor Urzúa, Chief Winemaker of Lourdes Cellar, reinforces the importance of climatic conditions for the performance of this year at the vineyards, providing grapes with great aromatic expression: “Lourdes is an important vineyard within the company, mainly due to the great presence of varieties where black fruit predominates, such as Syrah, Malbec, Carmenere, Petit Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. And while these strains are well suited to the warmer conditions of the middle Maule Valley area, under these conditions, we had a colder spring, where it rained a little more. From the beginning, maturity was slower and despite having rainfall in March, we had a very good thermal oscillation, with a great presence of fruit in our grapes and a very rich expression, very fresh, with very soft tannins.”

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Due to these harvest conditions, the work in the vineyard and cellar was not difficult. In terms of production, the amount of grapes extracted from Lourdes was medium-high, and given the vegetative expression that was obtained this year, a great balance was maintained: “I think it’s one of the best harvests we’ve made in Lourdes; It is a year that will be characterized by the softness of its wines. We believe it is a successful vintage and we are very happy because there has been a harmony between the fruit part and the tannic part, so we are sure we will have wines with very soft and silky tannins, and great expression. The fruit looks perfect and we are sure it will be a year remembered for its excellence”, concludes Urzúa just ending the 2018 harvest in Maule Valley.

The harvest is the most important period of the year for the wine industry, involving the participation of a large number of collaborators throughout all the valleys of the country. For Concha y Toro, the vintage represents the spirit that the winery has maintained since its foundation, 135 years ago: a great passion for wine and the constant search for excellence in all its processes.

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