Edgardo Del Pópolo: “This year, we will see the best in Malbec”

The winemaker of Susana Balbo Wines drew up for iProfesional a balance on the progress of the 2020 vintage and the wines that are coming

The 2020 vintage and Edgardo Del Pópolo, winemaker of the prestigious winery Susana Balbo Wines, analyzed for iProfessional the advance of the harvest and anticipated the style of wines vintage 2020, for both aged and young specimens.

The winery has its own vineyards in two areas: Agrelo, in Luján de Cuyo, and Gualtallary, in the Uco Valley. In addition, they buy grapes within the same areas and also throughout the entire Uco Valley.

“In both areas, the quality of the harvest has been excellent, because it has been a typical year that we are used to in Mendoza: rather dry and hot profile.
This has allowed us to obtain very healthy grapes of excellent quality, “said the expert, who especially highlighted the challenges posed by the vineyards of Gualtallary, an area that, from the climatic point of view, had some incidents that made it a very particular vintage.

“For this harvest we had hail three times. As it is an area where hail rarely falls, this caught our attention a lot. Obviously this affected several of the vineyards that are at the heart of this potential GI, generating significant losses” he warned.

As he explained, as they were hail that occurred early, in many cases the vineyards damaged by not having anti-hail mesh managed to recover, but with lower levels. “Some suffered a loss of 40% to 60% of production,” he explained, later clarifying that despite this, “these vines arrived recovered at harvest, with good canopy, good leaf, but with a lower load, which that generated grapes of high concentration.

“A plant that can usually carry a kilo has found 400 grams of fruit after these phenomena. The result was more concentrated and powerful grapes,” he said.

Beyond these incidents, he clarified that in his vineyards they have anti-hail mesh, so they did not suffer losses, as if it happened with small producers who supply them.
To this he added an extra factor and that is that Gualtallary had days of very low temperatures in mid-October, which also had an impact on the drop in production.

Wines | Susana Balbo Wines, in Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo

-How far was the harvest for the winery?

-The harvest was advanced, on average, two weeks. The 2020 vintage is the product of a warm and dry year of early harvest, while 2019 was cold and dry. Particularly the cold and rainless harvests are to my taste better and that’s why I think 2019 is the best in the last 30 years. It had all the necessary seasoning for a perfect ripening of the grapes. This year it was hot, but the good thing is that it didn’t rain either.

-How then did you approach this grape harvest in the vineyard?

-As is traditionally done. Regardless of the conduction system, the vineyards were managed very well from the agronomic point of view, of the work that is done with the plant; they were well irrigated – methodically, on time and in shape – and were able to maintain good health from a physiological point of view. This meant that the leaves were well maintained: they did not turn yellow, they did not fall, nor were they under great stress. This is what finally determines a year of good quality.
Beyond the area, the plants that have been well worked, healthy, are what will make potential producers of better quality wines.

-What would you highlight about the performance of red grapes?

-This year the grapes in the aforementioned areas generated very good quality of skins, therefore, I estimate that the quality that we will have at the end of the winemaking, in the discovered or when the wines are aged, will be very good.

-How do you imagine the red wines harvest 2020?

-I think we will have young red wines that will stand out for a very good fruit expression. These warm years are what we call ‘fruit years’, where the expression of different types of fruit stands out, for example: red or black fruits, depending on when it has been harvested; and very expressively, depending on the variety and the area. I would say almost outgoing.

-And the aging wines how do you imagine they will behave?

-In the aged wines, those that come from vineyards and special regions, will have a good longevity. I don’t know if the one with cold years and longer harvests, but they will have good aging potential. They will also have a more evident expression than they have cold years. As I said earlier, warm harvests produce more outgoing wines, with more aromatic imprint, more open and more fruitful; of tannins that are more silky and creamy, and wines with an acid balance that can make them perceive as slightly sweeter, although this year we also had good acidity. I highlight this because in hot years, managing acidity is an issue and this year the grapes, despite the heat, were harvested with excellent acidity and pH values. Therefore, we will have red wines of very good freshness.

Wines | Susana Balbo Wines, in Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo

-What red strains would you highlight this year?

-Obviously and as always the Malbec. It is a variety that stands out practically every year and in all areas. This has been a year to have Malbec wines in profile as many people like: more generous, with soft tannins, a slightly wider mouth, good length, good storage capacity and very representative of the variety. The best we will see in Malbec, although without compromising that there are very good things in other varieties. Depending on the place, we will also have some good ones Cabernet Franc, especially those coming from vineyards or plots located in cold areas, they will be really well too.

-And how did the white varieties fare this year?

-The good management of the vineyards and the conduct at the time of harvest has allowed us to produce whites with good power, both aromatic and in the mouth, with good expression and very good acidity. In short, fresh and serious wines.

– And as for the varieties?

-I think it has been a very nice year for him Chardonnay. Punctually I am very happy with what was obtained in Gualtallary. It was harvested with a very good level of acidity, which allows us to have a very good varietal expression in wines with great freshness. I also like how some are Torrontés from the Uco Valley, especially from Altamira. They are very characteristic, very mineral. Also, I like how some are going Semillon.

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