July is visit time for flying winemakers. At this time of the year, Michel Rolland is in Mendoza to taste this year’s wines, his own and those of wineries he advices, to assess the vintage and take decisions.
In a long conversation with WineSur, the Bordeaux consultant outlined the future profile of the 2012 wines.
Did you notice a good ripeness in the wines of Mendoza?
In the Uco Valley the harvest was really good, in other places, due to drought ripeness did not achieve its best result. However, Vistalba, Luján and Chacras produced very good quality wines. Where I did notice a lower level of ripeness is in the wines from de Cruz de Piedra, Barrancas and the Eastern zone; these are not as ripe as cold zones wines since this year the harvest occurred early everywhere.
Within Luján wines show many differences between them; in Tupungato the wines from Clos de los Siete, Lurton, Andeluna, Sophenia and other wineries we assess, are really good in spite of the differences.
Malbec is the latest ripener among red varieties, what do you think of the ones you tasted?
2012 Malbecs from every zone will surpise us. Malbecs from Vistalba are fresh and elegant, while those from Uco Valley are more powerful and thicker. It seems that in average production decreased 10% to 20%. Technically we cannot say that coulure causes better concentration of polyphenols; coulure is natural green harvest, therefore we cannot say that coulure brought about more concentration in Malbec this year.
If we played with blends, what would you recommend?
I do not think there is a variety that is perfect for blending, this year, though it has been a great year for Merlot that came much earlier and was picked in very good conditions. There are climatic influences that do not allow achieving high-end Merlot, but this year it has managed good balance and good concentration; last year was fine, but 2012 is much better. So far, we have not launched a pure Merlot into the market, but we have a 2010 Merlot that will be released by the end of this year. We are definitely making a Merlot varietal wine this year.
Was it a good year for Cabernet in spite of climatic conditions?
I did not notice any unusual features in the Cabernet Sauvignon; none of the Cabernets I tasted showed presence of pyrazine or green notes; they were pretty ripe. This was a good year for the Cabernet for it arrived early; by the end of April we had all the Cabernet in the winery.
What can you predict from styles, alcohol and acidity?
This year we are going to have lower alcohol levels than in 2011 (at least 0.5º lower) in the wines of every zone. At the laboratory, we have noticed lower Ph, that is to say better acidity. The outcome is fresher wines.