Sweet Jewels – Late Harvest


…Nothing stems from diamonds,

but flowers are born from manure…

(Fabrizzio De André, Italian singer and songwriter)

During the mid-80’s Pablo Morandé verified on his skin and that of his grapes, the effects of living in Casablanca, very close to the Pacific Ocean. As it often happens in life, reality can be two-sided: the high relative humidity in the mornings, due to the coastal fogs, gives rise to a fresher climate with lower average temperatures. In turn, this generates higher acidities in the grapes, and in short, slower and longer ripening processes. The complicated face of the coin is that these same conditions favor the rotting of varieties of tight bunches and thinner skins, such as sauvignon blanc.

However, these circumstances also offer new opportunities, which we discovered without much ado when we made our late harvest wines: Golden Harvest in 2000 and Late Harvest, his younger sibling.

In the Sauvignon Blanc vineyard that we keep for making our late harvest wines, we quickly learned that rot could also be beneficial. If we managed to keep a well-ventilated and open canopy, something like a hippy trellis, not fixed with wires, we also favor the production of small bunches with looser berries.

In addition to drying out the grapes on the plants (like raisins), these conditions also allow producing 40 to 50% good or noble rot. That is, the action of the botrytis cinerea fungus (which doesn’t generate moist or damaging decay) wasn’t sending our efforts to the garbage bin. After becoming active in spring, the fungus goes into dormancy and wakes up in autumn, when the climate conditions are favorable to it and the temperatures lower. That is the reason why it develops more slowly. But only as long as rains don’t show up. Unlike what many could think, the development of the botrytis cinerea fungus is not dependent on summer or autumn rains. Given the temperatures and the sugar accumulated in the grapes by then, these precipitations would probably lead only to moist or damaging decay.

It is thus that we make our Late Harvest almost every year: harvesting the Sauvignon Blanc grapes at the beginning of June. After fermenting them in French barrels that have been used more than five times before, we achieve a fresh, fruity, and complex wine that shows the blessings of an extreme climate, such as Casablanca’s, but which can also hide both small and huge jewels.

Ricardo Baettig

Winemaker at Viña Morandé


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