Wine crush | Irreverence, intuition and tenacity

11 Apr 2016
3 min read
Established for over 135 years, Viña Valdivieso is Chile’s leading South America’s still and sparkling wine market from their spectacular Andean- and ocean-side locations.
Viña Valdivieso

With a taste for French Champagne, Don Alberto Valdivieso launched his eponymous vineyard in 1879 and became the first producer of sparkling wines in Chile. In the 1980s Valdivieso vineyard started yielding still wines with Jorge Coderch as its driving force. Over a century later, it has become the leader in the domestic and South American markets, while expanding internationally. Today, located in the small rural village of Lontué, in one of Chile’s most prestigious wine regions, the Curicó Valley, the wines are of an exceptional quality encompassing the vineyard’s three key elements: irreverence, intuition and tenacity.

From sparking to still

While Valdivieso remains loyal to their sparkling wines with the bottle fermented range, which reflects their 135 years of experience producing sparkling wines, and their Charmat Method sparkling wines, which use fruit from cooler climate regions, resulting in the range’s Brut and Brut Rosé having great acidity, character and authenticity.

However, Valdivieso’s array of still wines is extensive. From the vineyard’s original wine, Caballo Loco, to more recent releases like the Caballo Loco Grand Cru, born with the aim of highlighting the main components of the original Caballo Loco; the hand-crafted Éclat wines; the Single Vineyard range, which represent the very best terroir of each area; the Single Valley Lot, which combine the characteristics of different low yielding, high quality vineyards from the emblematic growing regions; The Winemaker Reserve wines combine the skill of our winemaking team, with the best parcels of grapes from selected vineyards; and the classic Varietal are our most familiar range, where fruit, aroma, flavours and freshness prevail.

“Caballo Loco–the first prestige wine from Valdivieso and one of the pioneers of Chile, released in 1995–is characterized for having an inviting sweet spice aroma and flavour, complemented with rich, ripe fruit, and an elegant fine grained palate” Valdivieso’s oenologist Brett Jackson explains. As Chile has evolved over the last 20 years, so has Valdivieso, developing new regions, varieties, and knowledge. They have subtly introduced this into Caballo Loco, remaining loyal to the traditional essence of wine, but integrating even deeper, more complex flavours. Stored in French oak barrels, Caballo Loco’s unique releases are comprised approximately by 50% of the previous release, and 50% of a selection of finest current vintages blend.

The Éclat wines are a celebration of our winemaking style at Valdivieso. Individually handcrafted, we believe these wines represent real distinction and a true expression of our innovation. Éclat Vigno Old Vine Blend: Blend of 70-year-old dry-farmed Carignan vines with some Mourvèdre, which are sourced from the exciting Melozal area in the Maule valley. Éclat Botrytis Semillon: Made with Semillon grapes from Curicó Valley with noble rot.

Reaching great heights

“Terroir has a tremendous affect on the wines, each region producing unique wines” Valdivieso’s oenologist Brett Jackson explains. “We utilise the varying terroirs appropriately to achieve the wines’ tasting notes.” The Curicó Valley is a region of varying temperaments and surroundings, laying between the majestic Andes and the Pacific coast.

With the Andes’ fresh and cool morning air that heats up in the afternoon, the area is perfect for producing Valdivieso’s crisp, mineral Sauvignon Blanc’s, like the classic fine-grained Cabernet Sauvignon, produced in The Upper Maipo. A short distance to the west is the old coastal mountain range, which is slowly eroding away and stands at 1000m high. With its multiple pockets of land that are protected from the harsh mountain air and the coastal climate, the mountain range is arid and warm with hills that are peppered with cacti, hardy native trees and shrubs. In Colchagua, for example Valdivieso produce an intense rich, ripe, new world style Cabernet Sauvignon.

“I like to think our wines are very typical to our area, given our practices of styling our wines around what the different terroirs offer us,” says Brett. “Classic examples are from where the winery is located, we have a Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc coming from the sheltered site within the coastal ranges, where the vines were planted some 90 years ago. Then we also have a Sauvignon Blanc made from grapes grown in the eastern edge close to the Andes, with a fresh, slightly mineral edge, which are very typical to our area.”

Combining traditional and modern wine development Brett explains that Valdivieso aims “to highlight and allow a wine’s terroir to become apparent. The more traditional the process with less intervention.” With a large storage capacity, Lontué is equipped with modern machinery, steel tanks and French and American oak barrels.

Valdivieso at home

“Once bottled,” Brett reveals “we store our wines in a room away from natural light and a temperature with an average of 14°C. The best way for a customer to store their wine is away from natural light and where there is as constant a temperature as possible, ideally between 10-16C.