The coastal valleys of Chile’s Fifth Region, such as Leyda, generally observed a considerable increase in the number of cloudy days, especially in December and January. This is not common because those months are generally the hottest and have the highest number of sunny days. December even recorded some precipitation, which is quite uncommon in this zone.
The coastal zones of the Central Valley presented maximum temperatures that were lower than a normal year in January, which resulted in a delay in veraison in all varieties. It also recorded higher than normal maximum temperatures, primarily in the month of February.
Another important aspect to note is that there were no spring frosts. Although frosts are unusual in Leyda, there is always a risk that they occur when the plant is in a susceptible state, primarily in spring.
Summer 2012 (December 2011, January and February 2012)
The major climatological event of the summer of 2012 was the heat wave that brought high temperatures until the end of summer. This was primarily observed during the months of January, February, and early March. Generally the central coast has many warm days in January and early February, and the temperatures begin to drop in late February, when there are more cloudy days and cooler afternoons. This was not the case in 2012, however, because the temperatures remained high in February and, in fact, the average temperature even rose in early March to reach nearly 30ºC with much luminosity and sun. This provoked an acceleration in the maturation cycle, with an early veraison and a rapid increase in the production of grape sugars and photosynthates.
The following table shows that the average maximum temperatures for February and March were clearly higher than those of January.
These warm conditions combined abundant sunshine caused the onset of veraison (the state in which the color of the grapes turns from green to pink and finally to red) to occur a week early. For this process to take place correctly it is very important to keep the plant well hydrated and protect the grapes from excesses of sun, which made it necessary to employ some important vine management techniques such as keeping careful records and using good criteria for more efficient and precise irrigation along with good canopy management and distribution to protect the bunches from excessive sun to prevent dehydration, which could be very harmful.
Fall 2012 (March, April, and May 2012)
Harvest usually takes place in late summer and early fall. The heat that marked this season’s spring, summer, and fall, along with many days of sun and zero precipitation benefitted ripening and accelerated harvest by approximately 8–12 days in relation to an average year.
The heat summation of for 2012 was 1,437.6 Degree Days (based on 10ºC), registering an increase over the average 1,274.7 DD.
Weather records for the month of March 2012 show that it was one of the warmest in contemporary history.
The harvest dates for the different varieties were as follows:
March: harvest began during the first week of the month with Sauvignon Blanc clone 242 and Pinot Noir, which extended into the second week of March, followed by a return to Sauvignon Blanc in the third and fourth weeks.
April: we continued with Pinot Noir during the first and second weeks, primarily clones 777 and 115. The last of the Sauvignon Blanc was picked mid-month, and for the first time in Amayna’s history, we picked Syrah in the month of April, specifically on April 12 to obtain a very fresh Syrah with abundant red and black fruit, rich acidity, and tannins that were quite soft despite the early harvest. Historically Syrah has been harvested in mid-May or even in early June. This clearly shows how early the 2012 Syrah ripened due to the warm season. The Chardonnay was picked in late April, along with a bit of Syrah.
May: we finished picking Syrah during the first and second weeks of May, which concluded one of our most difficult harvests in terms of logistics, fast reaction times, and vineyard management. It was also one of the best harvests in terms of grape health and quality because we picked before the conditions affected the expression of the musts. The resulting wines are lighter, with less alcohol and tremendous fruit and floral character on the nose. The palates are delicate, fresh, and smooth with the long, mineral or saline finish that is a very distinct characteristic of the Leyda Valley.