Errazuriz shows that less is more1st November, 2013 by Gabriel Savage
Errazuriz chief winemaker Francisco Baettig has explained how working alongside a big name from Burgundy has helped his mission to make “less ambitious Pinot Noir”.
Since 2011, Errazuriz has benefited from the consultancy of Louis Michel Liger-Belair of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair in Vosne Romanée, who was already involved in Chilean winemaking as part of the team behind the Aristos label from Cachapoal.
Speaking to the drinks business at a dinner in London to show the latest vintages from Errazuriz’s Aconcagua Costa wine range, Baettig outlined a significant shift in his approach to Pinot Noir during the last few years.
“I’ve been picking way earlier – a whole month earlier – using less oak and racking less,” he said, summing up this pared back approach as an attempt to make “less ambitious Pinot Noir.”
Baettig also pointed to the quality improvements that have emerged as a result of these young Aconcagua Costa vineyards. Planted in 2005, the company has only been producing Pinot Noir from these vines since the 2010 vintage.
“In the past in Chile the plant material was very poor,” he explained of the country’s struggle to produce Pinot Noir of an exciting quality. “That’s been changing in recent years and we now have better clones in cooler areas. It’s following the same path as Sauvignon Blanc but many years later.”
Turning to the Aconcagua Costa Wild Fermented Chardonnay 2011, Baettig confirmed his shift towards the similarly restrained approach seen with the Pinot Noir.
“We’ve toned it down: there’s less alcohol, we’re picking earlier and using different coopers,” he summed up. “I’m also doing less batonnage – it gives you a creamy character but the wine tends to evolve a bit faster.” To complement this reduced lees stirring, Baettig also noted a reduction in malolactic fermentation to around “30 or 40%.”
In short, he concluded: “It’s a bit of a quest for a fresher style and more acidity.”