[PHOTO: Francisco Kemeny]

I’ve entered into a process of learning, so if you’re reading for educational purposes, welcome. If you have more to add, please just comment. Some of this will be part of my own “Oh Wow” moments; some of it will be part of what I’ve already learned, and you can add a third element in the comments section. The Chilean’s have been very generous over the years helping me to learn about their region. Not having visited, I’m limited, I know. Still I’ve had a wealth of information available to me. I’m dreaming of visiting one day. We shall see.

What I’ll be researching and focusing on primarily comes from some samples that have been provided, for tasting Chile and then sharing my thoughts. I’ve only been very satisfied with their Chilean wine results so far. The Sponsorship for the educational opportunity was provided by Wines of Chile USA Launches Sustainability 365 Campaign Builds on Strong 2020 Performance.

From their press release: “To build on momentum, Wines of Chile USA is now poised to activate Sustainability 365, a trade- and consumer-facing campaign developed in tandem with Colangelo & Partners, and planned around the theme: “Drink Sustainable. Drink Chile.” Eighty percent of Chilean wine exports are certified sustainable, representing one of the most regionally diverse and eco-friendly wine selections on the planet. Chile’s wide-ranging wine sustainability code has long served as an inspiration for numerous other countries and wine regions.”

So, all of our ducks are in a row, let’s go!

So Delicious Chilean Wines

[PHOTO: Karol Kozlowski photo of the Concha y Toto vineyard]

In Pirque, the Santiago Metropolitan Region of Chile, is Concha y Toro’s vineyard. It’s a rural landscape, with green vineyards and several wineries in the Pirque y Toro region. This is a landscape of Pirque de Laconcha’s metropolitan district with the Concha y Toro Vineyard, Chile.

Environmental, Social, and Economic Sustainable Wine Growing

I’ve not been to South America’s Chile, but Chile samples have come to me for years through wine samples. I can only imagine, through the aid of available images, what it’s like to be there in this South American wine region. Each winery below will have images to shared, so we can all arm-chair this one.

From the project, a bit of commitment:

It starts with Chile’s isolated location, hemmed in by the Pacific to the west, the Andes to the east, the world’s driest desert in the north, and Patagonia in the far south, presenting wine growers with a host of natural advantages. Chile famously remains one of the few places on the planet where phylloxera has yet to make serious inroads, and Vitis vinifera vines continue to thrive on their own un-grafted rootstock.

RESEARCH from the project:

Credit for Chile’s elevated sense of agricultural “health-consciousness” can largely be attributed to one man: Claude Gay. In 1830, this French-born botanist, after carrying out some of the first investigations into Chilean flora, fauna, geology, and geography, advocated in favor of creating a government agency to improve agriculture and protect the country from the perils of imported plant diseases. The government obliged and by 1850, records confirmed checks made on upward of 40,000 vines and 70-plus varieties of Vitis vinifera. If you have ever traveled to Chile, it won’t have escaped you that its airports are far more vigilant about inspecting for fruit, veggie, and animal products, with long lines of weary travelers waiting to pay fines of close to $200 for that undeclared packet of trail mix. Blame Claude Gay!

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz]

Chilean Wine Lineup

The Teasers

  • Viña Marquis Gran Reserva Cabernet Franc 2018/SRP $24
    • Owned by the Hurtado family for four generations, the winery sits between two rivers in the Colchagua Valley. The two waterways not only moderate temperatures and protect the vineyards from spring frosts, but also provide the 6.5-foot layer of concentrated clay set over gravel. These well-drained soils enable grapes to lose their green characteristics early in the season. The long cool 2018 growing season yielded a wine that is vibrantly fresh, featuring a basket of red and black fruit flavors in the mouth, along with floral touches and a dark tobacco background.
    • Sustainability Pillar: Electrical consumption has been reduced by 30% and liquefied gas requirements by 90% thanks to an energy recovery system using geothermal heat pump technology that was awarded the 2013 British Chilean Chamber of Commerce Innovation Prize.
  • Viñedos Emiliana Coyam 2018/ $35
    • A pioneer in Chile, Emiliana is one of the world’s largest producers of organic and biodynamic wines in the world. Coyam comes from a vineyard on granite-based soils in Colchaga’s coastal mountain range. All the fruit is own-rooted and is a massal (field) selection of different varieties, except for the Syrah, which is a specific clone. Eight different varieties blend seamlessly to offer on the palate cherry and strawberry, Mediterranean herbs, black pepper, and vanilla. Drink now or age up to 10 years.
    • Sustainability Pillar: Installation and support for organic gardens in local schools in 50% of the communications Emiliana operates in (goal: 100%). Also has 91 organic vegetable gardens for is employees, with many participating in collective growing to provide healthy food for their families.
  • Viña Koyle Gran Reserva Carmenere 2019 / SRP $17
    • Viña Koyle’s (KOO-lay) biodynamic vineyards are planted on the rocky slopes of Los Lingues in Alto Colchagua and currently tended by the sixth generation of a family that has been making wine since 1885. Thanks to the deep roots of the vines, this Carmenere-based wine has hallmark mineral notes, along with the roundness of the Tempranillo and the lightly floral aromas of the Petit Verdot.
    • Sustainability Pillar: Demeter-certified, biodynamic producer Koyle also has installed solar panels which harvest 40% of the energy used.
  • Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Made with Organic Grapes 2019 / SRP $20
    • Farmed since 1874 in Isla de Maipo, Chile’s traditional vinous heart, the estate is known for its diversity of soils that enable it to successfully grow an array of grapes. This five-grape variety wine has upfront notes of wild herbs, flowers, ripe black fruit, like sarsaparillas, along with subtle vegetal notes from the Cabernet Franc and lavender and violet notes from the Merlot.
    • Sustainability Pillar: Planting more than 11,000 native trees and shrubs restore the natural environmental balance and reconnect the biological corridors between the Altos de Cantillana mountains and the River Maipo through the estate’s 5,000 acres of vineyards.
  • Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Ribeiras Cabernet Sauvignon, 2019 / SRP $17
    • In 2021, powerhouse Concha y Toro received B Corporation Certification, which recognizes companies around the world that meet the highest standards of environmental management, governance and social performance. The Serie Ribeiras line of wines are single vineyard wines offered at super competitive prices. Fruit for this wine comes from the Palo Santo Vineyard, D.O. Marchigüe, Colchagua Valley, on the banks of the Tinguiririca River. The unctuous wine, aged in French oak and foudres, is 94.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, with Syrah and Carmenere rounding out the blend.
    • Sustainability Pillar: B Corporation-certified with metrics including: 100% drip irrigation, 97% of waste reused/ recycled, 24% reduction of waste over 2018, 83% of energy comes from renewable sources.
    • Carbon Footprint has also been a focus for Concha y Toro, who have been working with international scientific organizations, to develop a detailed roadmap, which identifies costs and pegs them to reduction levels and targets. This methodology has been shared with Wines of Chile and in June 2021 several companies will sign a document in to commit to specific reductions – a first in the wine world.
  • Viu Mament Secreto de Viu Manent Malbec, 2019 / SRP $15
    • Family-owned since 1935, Colchagua Valley-based Viu Manent is one of the most respected wineries in Chile. The family have fun with the line of “Secreto” wines – a stated grape variety leavened with a “secret blend” (15%) of other grapes. The Malbec grapes come from vines that are around 19 years old. Fresh and fruity, the final blend offers a refined mix of red berries and violets on the palate.
    • Sustainability Pillar: Installation of four solar plants that generate 460 kilowatts at peak, implementation of a biodiversity protection program as Central Chile is home to more than 50% of the various species of floral and vertebrates in the country, and recycling (such as using old barrels in promotions or by local artists).

This is the overall picture. I’m going to feature each wine individually, because each is special and I want to discover. How about you?

More to follow.