I had a quick sit-down with Francisco Baettig, winemaker at Chile’s Viña Errázuriz, earlier this week. Baettig and Viña Errázuriz are, like many winemakers and wineries in Chile, starting to explore the country’s cooler, coastal climates in search of new vineyard areas. But unlike most other Chilean wineries who have headed far north to places like Limarí or Elquí, or far south to Bío Bío, Baettig has stayed close to the winery’s home base in the generally warm Aconcagua Valley.
It’s always fun to find a new winery. If you’ve been following along here over the past few years, you’ve been there when I introduced South Africa’s Glen Elly, as well as the Rhône’s Château de Montfaucon, Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet and Famille Darnaud-McKerrow.
During my recent trip through Bordeaux to taste the 2008s, I was able to taste numerous not-yet-bottled wines from both the 2009 and 2010 vintages. At one estate, I only tasted the 2010, as they didn’t make any ’09. You might think it’s a shame to miss out on ’09, but c’est la vie, since the 2010 is the winery’s debut vintage.
Château Rocheyron is the creation of Peter Sisseck and Silvio Denz. Sisseck is probably best known for his work in Spain where he started Dominio de Pingus in the Ribera del Duero; Denz is the owner of Château Faugères in St.-Emilion. For Sisseck, it’s a return home of sorts—he got his winemaking start in Bordeaux at châteaus Rahoul and de Landiras, working with his uncle Peter Vinding-Diers, before heading off to Spain.
Winemaker Enrique Tirado is known for Cabernet Sauvignon. As technical director at Concha y Toro, his main responsibility has been to shepherd the company’s flagship Don Melchor bottling, a wine that has been consistently outstanding (with three classic-rated vintages) during his tenure.
But Tirado has been quietly working on a Syrah as well, a new project that will carry a lofty price tag. Called Gravas del Maipo, the new Syrah project began in 2005, when Tirado was charged with isolating what he thought was Chile’s best Syrah terroir.
How do you judge an emerging region? One way is to use the already-established benchmarks from elsewhere in the world. Chilean Cabernet versus Bordeaux or Napa, for example. Not stylistically of course, but qualitatively. Another way to measure success is to use an emerging country's own track record, and in the wine world, I consider a track record fairly well-established after 10 vintages.
So I happily accepted an offer to taste through a complete vertical of Viña Almaviva, one of Chile's flagship reds, which now has 12 vintages under its belt.
I've written about Pedro Parra, the terroir hunter, before. The Chile-based soil specialist has gotten rather busy recently, helping numerous wineries in both Chile and now Argentina, fine-tune their viticulture based on the myriad soil types that often exist in a single vineyard. What on the surface looks the same is often quite varied below, and Parra's work has caught the interest of folks like Aurelio Montes, Alexandra Marnier-Lapostolle and others.
So, it was probably just a matter of time until Parra got into the winemaking end of things. I sat down with him here at my office yesterday to talk about his nascent project.
Alberto Antonini was one of the first to see Argentina's potential—not with Cabernet Sauvignon or other blue-chip varietals—but with Malbec. In 1995, he and his Italy-based partners started Altos Las Hormigas in Argentina's Mendoza region. As outsiders, they were among the first in Argentina to stake their reputation on Malbec. It worked.
But now, Antonini, who has a lengthy client list in Italy, Argentina, Chile and elsewhere, sees the next phase of Argentina's wine industry—the need to promote diversity in the wines. I sat down with Antonini here at my office today to catch up on his endeavors at Altos Las Hormigas as well as get introduced to one of his newest clients, Chile's Viña Intriga.
When it comes to Bordeaux, I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I love Sauternes. There are really two parts to Sauternes as a whole—Sauternes the appellation itself, and its neighbor, Barsac. People use Sauternes as a catch-all for the wines from both AOCs, and Barsac producers can even put Sauternes on their labels. While I understand the marketing need, it’s a shame if they do, because there are major differences between the two. And for me, no winery epitomizes Barsac’s freshness and precision more than Château Coutet.
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