Portrait of a harvest

4 March 2021
La vendimia

The experience of drinking wine starts with knowing its history, and the grape harvest is a fundamental chapter. Tacama tells us about this vital process and how its Selección line transports us—sip by sip—to the vineyard, the harvest, and the wine experts. It’s just a matter of reading, tasting, and enjoying.

Understanding wines is no easy task. Those who aspire to be like Dionisio must know about harvesting grapes. “In a vineyard, harvesting is defined as the gathering of the grapes from which wines, sparkling wines, and piscos will emerge,” explains Mariela Gutelli, Marketing Manager of Tacama. Generally, in Peru, it is carried out once a year between January and March.

 

Tacama, the oldest vineyard in South America, has 250 hectares in Ica. They contain many grape varieties—nine white, eight red, and four pisco-producing—and 107 different parcels. To establish the timeline of the harvest, grapes from the field are tested and analyzed in the lab. On the day of the testing, at 6 am., the testers enter the parcel chosen by the wine expert and, with scissors and straw baskets, pick the grapes that are ready for harvesting. Once they are placed in the tractor and transported to the winery, another process begins: the winemaking, or the transformation of grapes into wine, with the necessary safety and hygiene protocols to prevent COVID-19 transmission, of course.

 

“Grape harvesting is the result of a year’s work. That’s the gameday you train your players for. You can’t achieve an ideal wine if you haven’t worked correctly and with a clear goal beforehand. Everything is set in motion starting in the winter pruning when we start to tailor each parcel towards the type of wine it can become, similar to a coach who knows what player will become their forward or their star athlete…a coach who knows the team and its potential,” affirms Frédéric Thibaut, Tacama wine expert.

 

TRUE WINE LOVERS

There are two things to consider on the day of the grape harvest. First, “there are fragile and robust bunches of grapes. They can’t just be cut and thrown into a basket, because bunches with fragile skin can break, release their juice and oxidize with the heat. Grapes must be treated with care,” mentions the wine expert. Second, once the grapes are harvested, they must be taken to the winery quickly. “When a grape is connected to the plant, it’s being nourished. But when the bush is removed, it’s like cutting its umbilical cord; it begins to dehydrate,” he explains. In the case of Tacama, the vineyard is close to the winery, so the tractor arrives in under 30 minutes.

 

Undoubtedly, a successful harvest can’t be achieved without an expert team behind it. “It requires knowledge about the process —acquired through studies and years of experience—as well as love for the craft,” mentions the Marketing manager. In Tacama, the harvest season can involve up to 300 people: the wine expert, agronomist, chemical engineers, harvesters, loaders, tractor drivers…the list is long.

 

“I firmly believe in the value of specialists. It is essential to have a skilled team that understands the value of the details, has good judgment, is autonomous, and knows how to make decisions. At Tacama, we are lucky to have that,” says Frédéric Thibaut. Total wine lover.

LIVE AND IN REAL-TIME

Now, if there’s a Tacama line that carries the essence of its employees and symbolizes the art of winemaking, it is Selección, which includes a rosé, two white, and five red wines. “Anyone can make a decent, fruity, pleasant wine. But in this case, we wanted to do more: complex wines, with a much greater range of tastes and smells, that represent their place of origin. They are impossible to copy because they are worthy representatives of our soil and climate, of our mixtures and varieties—even within the same strain—and our history,” says Thibaut.

 

With the rosé wine, Ambrosía Rosé, Tacama seeks to create the most beautiful drink with the prettiest pink; not too pale or too intense, a half tone. With Blanco de Blancos Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Chardonnay, Tacama tries to craft a dry and mature drink that flirts with tropical aromas like pineapple and peach. And with Blanco de los Blancos Sauvignon Blanc, Tacama wants to express freshness, acidity, and aromas like grapefruit, pomelo, and green lemon. “For the whites and rosés, I would recommend a serving temperature between 8°C and 12°C. It can be placed in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or in a bucket ¾ filled with wine and water for around 30 minutes,” suggests Florencia Rey, Maido’s Head Sommelier.

 

Between its five red wines, “the most pleasant wine is Selección Especial Carmenère, very friendly and easy to drink. The runner-up would be Selección Especial Malbec, with its intense color and eucalyptus and menthol notes that make it stand out,” reveals Thibaut. In terms of pairings, the sommelier suggests having the Carmenère with pasta and sautéed vegetables or a spread of mature cheeses (Gruyère), and the Malbec with lomo saltado or grilled meat (skirt steak).

 

There are also red wines with more volume, body, and tannin in Selección. “They are Selección Especial Petit Verdot, which we made concentrated and intense (it may be hard for those used to light, sweet wines); the Selección Especial Alicante Bouschet, full of color and with fruit as balck as plums; and Selección Especial Petit Verdot—Tannat, which has great storage capacity. It remains impeccable after three or five years,” says Tacama’s wine expert. Impossible to choose.

 

Bonus: wine is an ideal daily companion. It is not exclusive for special occasions. “It can be consumed as an aperitif before eating a meal, while cooking, or while watching a show or a movie. Let’s take this time to simply enjoy,” recommends Florencia Rey. Let’s, because that’s what life is about.

 

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