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Vibrancy shines through in South America harvest report

Published:  19 August, 2021

Vibrant, zingy wines which have retained freshness and elegance despite weather challenges have emerged from South America in 2021, a new harvest report focusing on the region has said.

The report, from independent specialist importer Condor Wines and penned by Alistair Cooper MW, contains on-the-ground feedback from winemakers across Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

Despite issues with the weather and low rainfall – and a second year of harvest under Covid-19 conditions – the report concludes that the wine from the 2021 harvest, “should suit our UK palate down to the ground”.

For Chile in particular Cooper said, “2021 is going to be a superb harvest, maybe even one of the best in recent times”.

In Mendoza, Falasco Wines’ Alejandro Canovas was particularly pleased with his fresh and juicy reds, which he attributed to the differences in weather conditions.

“The less optimistic may use a single word: rain! But the optimists like us will prefer two words: exceptional quality!” added fellow winemaker Karim Mussi.  

Whilst rainfall caused some issues, with Bodega Piedra Negra reporting nearly half the annual average rainfall in February alone, Thibault Lepoutre described both his reds and whites as “fresh and elegant”. In Patagonia Bodega Del Rio Elorza suffered reduced yield due to spring frosts but are still pleased by the vibrancy of this vintage.

After a decade of drought, Chile welcomed the highest levels of January rain in over 70 years followed by a cool, slow ripening period from February to April. Christian Sepulveda at Bouchon Family wines described it as “the best harvest I have seen for our dry farming area. We could achieve low alcohol but also ripeness”. In Curico, Vina Requingua noted that “the reds in general are outstanding”, whilst Diego Vergara at Hacienda Araucano in Colchagua described the vintage overall as “marked by elegance with crisp acidity as its backbone”.  

Uruguay followed much the same pattern as Argentina and Chile: January rains followed by cool, slow ripening. Pablo Fallabrino in Atlantida reported excellent quality across both red and white, with his Tannat as a particular standout in a classic, balanced style. Santiago Deicas at Establecimiento Juanico is equally positive about his Cabernet Franc.

This year Juanico used night-picking as a Covid-19 safety measure to reduce the number of pickers working together. They believe that it may also have helped to improve quality, with picking in cooler conditions helping to retain freshness in the grapes. “We are in the middle of a huge revolution in the industry, and this is worldwide – not just in Uruguay,” Deicas said.

Condor Wines is a UK-based independent specialist importer of Argentine, Chilean and Uruguayan wines established in 2011 by MD Lee Evans and his wife Maria, an Argentinian native.

“The wineries have been almost unanimously positive about the 2021 vintage,” Evans said of this year’s wines. “According to Alistair Cooper MW, the word he has heard repeatedly is ‘vibrancy’.”

To find out more or to request a copy of the 2021 Harvest Report, visit the Condor Wines website or email