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Condor pairs with Cooper, capturing stories behind SA’s 2020 harvest

Published:  07 August, 2020

A new advisory collaboration between South American specialist Alistair Cooper MW and importer Condor Wines has delivered its first result in the shape of a 2020 Harvest Report, delivering the stories behind a ‘unique’ vintage.

Cooper, who “shares expertise and a passion” for the region, along with Condor’s MD Lee Evans, has been invited to support the company in a role as Wine and Category Advisor.

Spanning the major producing nations such as Uruguay, Chile and Argentina, the report focuses in on a year when viticulturalists and winemakers had to contend not just with “unusual challenges” with regard to climatic conditions, but also the onslaught of Covid-19.

“Due to Covid-19 we have all had to deal with unprecedented pressures, but for the wineries in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay this period coincided with their most important time of the year and they’ve had to work harder and more creatively than ever,” said Evans.

“I wanted to capture this remarkable period, so I asked Alistair to speak to the wineries and share his findings in a 2020 Harvest Report, which not only captures the specifics about the quality of the harvest but also reveals the stories and lengths taken to ensure the safety of the people behind the wines.”

Cooper’s report highlights that many of the wineries, particularly in Argentina and Chile, experienced a short and early harvest – “a blessing in disguise”, because it meant much of the work in the vineyards was done as the worst of the pandemic rolled in.

“For those that question climate change, this harvest again shows how wineries are having to adapt year in year out. Whilst some of the challenges faced are habitual (frost) others such as extremely advanced harvests and a global pandemic most certainly are not,” said Cooper.

“The wineries showed great spirit and teamwork in the face of considerable adversity. The many winemakers I have spoken to are all positive about the 2020 vintage and, despite the challenges, are all confident that it will prove to be a very good vintage, especially given the superb quality and health of the grapes harvested.”

In the report, winemakers quoted from across Chile, Argentina and Uruguay speak of an unusually memorable vintage, both for the “Covid-19 situation”, but also with a generally very upbeat assessment of the quality of the 2020 wines.

In Chile, Viña Requingua’s chief winemaker Benoit Fitte reported: "It was the most concentrated harvest in history – we started on 7 February with the grapes for base wines and ended on April 8. That is only two months when we are generally three months, starting the beginning of February and ending the beginning of May."

Similarly, in Argentina, winemaker Karim Mussi of Altocedro and Alandes wineries added: "The main characteristic was the early ripeness, where in some areas, such as El Cepillo (Uco Valley), there was a difference in phenology terms of up to 13 days compared with the previous vintage. The warmest March in the last 50 years sped up the ripeness process [and which], surprisingly, increased the phenol concentration while not affecting the acidity."

For more information on that Harvest Report contact Condor Wines.