Harvest time as everyone knows is a crazy time, because it is
the moment that like no other will define the vintage. Crucial
and dramatic choices are made, all the stakes are out and
timing can determine glory or doom. Here at Altos Las Hormigas
we strongly believe in team work, so please welcome our
new crew member – Almendra.
Picking the harvest date in 2015 was crucial more than ever, and let’s see why. This date always
allows the sense of place to shine, or be wiped out; however, in Mendoza, higher altitude,
limestone vineyards possess a special character, and this character hang by a thin thread.
Despite the fresher climate and cool nights, daytime temperatures can easily reach 30
degrees, and the ripening process accelerates so that just a handful of days make all
The 2015 harvest can be summed up as a kind of a bipolar one. November, December
and January had extremely high temperatures which accelerated the ripening process
in the vineyards. These temperatures and quick ripening can dramatically decrease the
level of natural acidity in the fruit, as sugar levels rise. Common sense would dictate to
wait, but we decided to harvest, 15 days earlier than we did last year, which was already
early for local standards. Despite our concerns, Almendra took the late Spring and Summer
months in stride, always looking for a sunny spot in the vineyards or outside of the bodega to
take a quick siesta.
We took a big risk, and we were blessed, taking the window of opportunity from mid February
to March 23rd, to pick all of its Malbec, even from the high altitude, cooler climates and
vigorous soils. Like Almendra, we do not work by a calendar, winemaker Leo Erazo sees
harvest as a human scale project, one that requires him and Almendra to walk through
each block of vineyards, level with the vines, row by row, and ensure that harvest begins
at the right time of ripeness of our grapes – where harmony is struck between acid,
tannins and sugars.
This was a bladerunning harvest for Altos Las Hormigas, however, Almendra liked the intense,
long days of walking through the vineyards, watching Leo taste and analyse the grapes,
and the exhausting task of harvesting the vines between bouts of poor weather. She’s already
preparing for 2016. At Altos Las Hormigas we take risks that we believe worth, in order to show that Mendoza has a fresh, mineral side. We believe that this complexity will take Argentinean Malbec to the next level.