Christie Kiley on January 19, 2015 0 Comments Just because the winter months have set in fairly harsh this time of year, does not mean you necessarily have to stick with wintery wines. Think warmer and you might feel warmer. Lighten up your days or even a relaxing Saturday afternoon at home with a well-prepared and thought out lunch with something lighter, something to keep the winter out. I am sure it is not often when you feel like having a nice wine that you go to Chile. It might be one winemaking country you should start putting on your list of options. It has not always been recognized as one of the leading wine producers of the world, but over the last ten years or so, it has been moving up the ranks. The Beginnings of Errazuiz It is a beautiful land that finds itself along the Andes mountain range with a Mediterranean-like climate, with altitudes, soils and conditions ideal for growing ideal fruit for making quality wines. And although Chile has not always been on the map when it comes to wine, the winery of Viña Errazuiz began over one-hundred and thirty years ago. It was founded in 1870 by Don Maximiano Errazuriz in the Aconcagua Valley, about sixty miles north from Santiago. He saw potential in this valley for creating wine with the cool, rainy winters when the vines lie dormant and hot, dry summers for mature and well-rounded fruit. The humid Pacific Ocean breeze is a bonus as well. He only wanted to grow the best fruit and for that he sent off to France for only the best clones to plant and transform barren land into what were to become world-class vineyards. The Present Today, Viña Errazuriz is run by the fifth generation, Eduardo Chadwich who modernized the estate whilst still maintaining the wines original identity. The winery has grown a reputation as being the best wines in Chile and he intends to keep it that way. Don Maximo’s philosophy was, “From the best land, the best wine.” The wine-making process at Errazuriz is controlled during every process from soil to bottle and they believe that leaving Mother Nature to her vices is the best way to go about crafting quality wines. The vineyards of Errazuriz have expanded from its humble beginnings and now you can find their vines not only in the Acongua Valley, but also in Casablanca and Curico. In the Aconcagua Valley the warm summers are gently cooled off from the sea breeze of the Pacific thanks to the Humboldt Current. The cooling from the ocean allows for a longer growing season allowing for maximum maturity of the fruit. Compared to other valleys in the Chilean wine-making region, this valley has the longest growing season and the harvest here runs later in to the autumn. The Terroir The only rainfall the region receives is in the winter and from year to year it averages only 250 millimeters per year. To put the region into comparison, this is only twenty-five percent of what the region of Bordeaux gets in precipitation and is ideal for making more concentrated and wine with layered characteristics. The drier climate also prevents any challenges which might occur in more humid climates with mildew and rot. With healthier vineyards, there is less intervention needed in the cultivation of the vines, allowing the fruit to showcase more natural characteristics which are ultimately translated into the wine. While some other drier climates have a necessity for irrigation by digging various wells, this region is blessed in its location in that it is irrigated by the snow-melt which comes from the Andes Mountains and into various river systems. The irrigation from these rivers are only delivered to certain vineyards where it is needed most during hotter times in the growing season. The Wild Yeast Ferment The fruit of this the 2013 vintage is from the La Escultura vineyard. The influences from the Pacific keep the vineyards cool enough ideal for growing beautiful Chardonnay fruit which tends to thrive in cooler climates. Cooler influences allow for acidity levels in the fruit to naturally stay intact and in balance with sugar maturation as the growing season goes on. The wine is 100% Chardonnay, but it is a blend of two different clones which deliver unique fruit expressions adding complexity to the wine. The Chardonnay was harvested by hand and loaded into 14 kilogram boxes and transported to the winery in the wee hours of the morning, where the bunches were whole pressed. The juice was cooled and transferred to stainless steel. Twenty-four hours later the natural and wild yeasts which were attached to the fruit begins its fermentation allowing for natural bi-products and distinctive aromas and flavors to develop. Following fermentation, the wine was put in French oak barrels to undergo a second fermentation and aged on the lees for eight months. The result is an amazing Chardonnay with perfect balances of natural orchard fruits and just the right touch of toasty oak nuances. It is lush and full-bodied with a texture like that of peaches and fresh cream and aromas that linger on the finish of toasted pecans. It is a must-try wine to keep away any feelings of cabin-fever and maintain fresh thoughts that spring will soon be on its way.