Christy Frank from Frankly Wines (top) Hana Muniz from Mari Vanna (bottom)
At yesterday’s Big Red Tasting in Studio 206, all the city’s players came out to taste. With older vintages secured from Il Colle Brunello di Montalcino, Mauro Veglio Barolo and Milziade Antano Sagrantino di Montefalco, we showcased over 70 wines. ”The Milziade Antano Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004 was a good discovery,” said Rocco Spagnardi of Locanda Vini & Olii. ”It’s a big wine like a Sagrantino should be, aromatic with herbal notes that maybe you don’t normally see in a Sagrantino. The 2004 shows great persistence; it’s a great wine after ten years.”
Representing both old friends (ZD Wines, Robert Sinskey, and Vineyard 29) and new (Matthiasson, Tertre Roteboruf, and Casa Marin), the room was abuzz with offerings from a select portion of the portfolio that’s been in the making for 19 years. ”It was exciting to try the new vintages  from Forlorn Hope,” said Christy Frank, of Frankly Wines. “They seem a little more approachable than the last vintage; a little softer straight out of the bottle, and they’re very weather appropriate now.”
In this bottle, María Luz Marín of Casa Marin, achieves the seemingly unattainable– a low alcohol (12%), cool-climate Chilean Syrah that is fresh and bright with acidity that targets the palate and lingers. Driven by instinct, María Luz – Chile’s first female winemaker – was drawn to this site on the Pacific coast of the San Antonio Valley, because she knew the terroir would yield the wines that she needed to make. Just four kilometers from the ocean, she planted Syrah to the volcanic, granite soils of Miramar Vineyard, which sits at 150-250 meters above sea level, with northwestern and northeastern exposure.
“I knew this place since I was a child,” said María Luz Marín, of her property on the Pacific coast, in the San Antonio Valley, “my father bought land near.” And though she had familial connections to the region, her path to becoming the first female Chilean winemaker and winery owner, was not without hindrances and hurdles. Long before she became a vintner, María Luz knew that she wanted something there. Seeing the plateau planted to lettuce and other legumes that supported the local community, she knew that the area could potentially support something more. ”The lettuce was large and crisp, very good quality,” she said, “better than [what was growing] five to six kilometers away.” And though there was a stream nearby to support the village, María Luz didn’t know how she might ever irrigate the hills.
Alvaro Espinoza of Antiyal
Jorge Perez, our South American Portfolio Director, recently returned from Chile, where he met with Alvaro Espinoza of Antiyal, a passionate practitioner of organic and biodynamic farming. What follows is an interview with Alvaro, on his practices as a vintner in Maipo Valley.
Pablo Morande (photo courtesy of Nash Wines)
In 1982, Pablo Morande, one of Chile’s most influential winemakers who was then the chief oenologist at Concha y Toro, discovered the potential of Casablanca Valley as a viticultural region. Located 30km from the coast, Casablanca Valley had been allocated to roaming cattle and no one then believed that the region had the potential to become an agricultural area. But after a trip to California’s Carneros, Pablo noticed the similarities between the two regions: the coastal proximity, the rolling hills and the cooling oceanic breezes. He conducted air and soil studies in Chile, but he was alone with his convictions. Every winery that he approached believed the area was too susceptible to cold and frost, and much too dangerous for planting.
Home to Bordeaux varietals since the mid-1800′s, when missionaries carried vines to the region, Curicó Valley now supports over 30 different varietals. As Chile’s largest producing zone of Sauvignon Blanc, Curicó currently has 3775ha of Sauvignon Blanc under vine. Here, the zone’s geographical isolation, with the Andes to the east and the Coastal Range to the west, has protected the vines of Curicó (and of Chile in general) from the louse phylloxera, which means that all plantings stem from original rootstock.
Roberto Echeverria, the President of Echeverria
In 1740, the Echeverria family moved from Basque country to Chile, where they became farmers, grape growers and winemakers, until 1923, when they purchased property in the town of Molina in Curico Valley. With vines brought from France, they made field blends from grapes that were harvested and fermented together and sold as bulk wine, at a time when the region was awash with local wine production. In 1978, when the grandfather of Roberto Echeverria, passed away, the family was living in the United States, where Roberto’s father, also named Roberto (and an only child), was studying economics.