This write-up and the Meet the Unexpected series are brought to you by Wines of Chile. Taste the Unexpected.
When a magnitude eight.eight earthquake struck off the coast of Chile in 2010, harm was extreme. Buildings collapsed, water lines burst, and blackouts ensued. In the aftermath, winemaker Andrés Caballero wandered into the cellar of Vina Santa Carolina, exactly where he crafts award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, to survey the harm. That is when he found anything extraordinary.
“Our underground cellar is a national monument, so I had to verify out some troubles down there,” Caballero says. “The stairs had shifted, and in the cracks, I located old bottles of Santa Carolina.”
These bottles listed vintages 1959, 1962, and 1967, amongst other people, so Caballero did what any curious winemaker would do: He tasted them. “The wines, they had been gorgeous,” he says. “Really, seriously very good. I mentioned to myself, ‘I need to have this recipe.’” This set Caballero down a new path in his winemaking profession, eager to find out how Chileans created wine in the mid-1900s, and how to recreate the elegance of the old wines he located that day.
Established in 1875, Vina Santa Carolina is 1 of the oldest wineries in Chile and produces some of the country’s most iconic wines. Its vineyards run from the Maipo Valley to the Colchagua and Maule Valleys in the south, developing red wine grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, and Petit Verdot as nicely as white wine grapes like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Caballero is also collaborating on a project, named Vinos del Desierto, creating wines from the old vines of the desert. Caballero has been creating wine at Viña Santa Carolina for 13 years, top the charge on the many bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape he believes produces Chile’s very best wines.
Chilean winemaking history dates to the mid-1800s. In the 1850s, wealthy Chileans started traveling the globe. These who went to Europe brought an array of influences back with them, like music, meals, and, of course, wine. Chile’s original plantings (and winemakers) came from France, and the very first recorded Chilean winery debuted in 1850.
As with most wine regions, the very first bottlings had been not extremely very good by today’s requirements. Chileans kept planting vines, but not necessarily the very best ones. Meanwhile, phylloxera ravaged Europe, but by no means very reached South America. Chileans kept plugging along finding out about vineyard management and winemaking, and, by the 1960s, the wines supplied a lot to the drinker. This is what inspired Caballero to make contemporary Chilean wine in an older style.
Caballero is the fantastic instance of the dynamism that can at present be noticed in the Chilean wine business, as a lot of winemakers and wineries continue to push the business forward in order to make the very best Cabernet Sauvignon in the globe. He is the head of a lot of revolutionary projects, such as Bloque Herencia, rescuing pre-phylloxera old-vine material. For 3 years, Caballero and his group studied the wines they found in the earthquake, finding out about the processes and plant components utilized by winemakers just before them. In 2012, Caballero crafted his very first wine incorporating these influences, blending Cabernet Sauvignon from many traceable vineyards and bottling it below the Icon label.
“In the old occasions, they blended from various locations, so I blended mine,” Caballero says. “Every time I serve the wine to individuals about the globe who seriously know about wine, they say that this does not really feel like Chile. This is like an old Bordeaux. That is in the spirit of the old occasions, since when they began creating wine in Chile, they did make it like Bordeaux. It is seriously a gorgeous history in terms of how we make it and exactly where it comes from.”
Caballero is 1 of Chile’s a lot of winemakers obtaining inspiration in the previous. From the vinification procedures and field blend planting approaches to heritage grape and blends, Chile’s wealthy and just about forgotten winemaking heritage is driving considerably of the category’s innovations. Caballero also spends a lot of time arranging for the future, specifically as it relates to climate transform.
In efforts to combat compact modifications in the microclimates of various regions, Caballero and his group spend close interest to clones planted in many regions and how they farm every single. They have also begun adding experimental blocks and playing with approaches like dry farming and late harvests. Caballero has moved Cabernet Sauvignon vines about the vineyards to make an optimal ripening schedule, finding out that they need to have 3 weeks in between the very first choice harvest and the final. He has let mold cover Sauvignon Blanc, then harvested it as a dessert wine.
He has created organic wines and attempted spontaneous fermentation as nicely. “I operate with seven winemakers who seriously, seriously push the technique,” he says.
Caballero and his group even found a small-identified grape named Romano mixed in rows of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Colchagua Valley. Virtually extinct, Romano hails from Europe, but only a couple of hectares of the grape nonetheless exist in France. Caballero compares the grape to Pinot Noir, praising its fresh, fruity flavor.
Naturally, he wanted to experiment with it. “When I consider about Merlot with five % Romano, I consider that would be a hit in terms of how it improves the Merlot with the fruiter notes,” he says. He has considering the fact that planted additional Romano in the vineyard.
Caballero is also inventing grapes by creating his personal crosses, just like winemakers did years ago to develop now-mainstream varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon. (What we contact “Cab” these days is technically a cross in between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, dating to the 17th century.)
Caballero developed 1,700 seeds from 5 crosses, and then planted 1,300 of them. He began tasting the resulting grapes and decided that 25 of them had been worth propagating. “My purpose is in 3 to 4 years to turn them into wine,” he says. He plans to use the new grapes in blending.
It hasn’t normally been uncomplicated. Attempting new points is fascinating but naturally presents challenges. Experiments fail.
For Caballero, some of the toughest hurdles come from inside. “It’s extremely difficult to transform the way you consider,” he says. “I had to throw every thing that I discovered for a lot of years of study, watch, and study once again. Every thing that was very good was all of a sudden now poor. Every thing that was supposed to be poor was now very good. But I just enjoy to be in the vineyard. We have all these possibilities.”
This write-up is sponsored by Wines of Chile. Taste the Unexpected.