Pinot producers look to coastal Maule

26th August, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt

Chile’s coastal Maule could become the latest hot spot for top-end Pinot Noir as two new projects promise to prove the quality of the area.

torres_chile_empedradoterrazas

The Empedrado terraced vineyard in Maule’s coastal mountain ranges where Torres Chile has planted Pinot Noir. Picture source: John E Fells

Launching next year from Torres Chile will be the first vintage of a Pinot which was planted 24km from the sea in Maule’s coastal mountain ranges, while Ricardo Beattig, who is winemaker at Viña Morandé, has been working on a personal project with his wife using 0.5 hectares of Pinot planted just 2km from the ocean in Maule.

According to Jaime Valderrama Larenas, managing director at Viña Miguel Torres Chile, 2012 will be the first vintage from the Torres Pinot project located near Constitución in the coastal part of Maule.

The wine and sub-appellation are called Empedrado, meaning stoney, in reference to the slate soils at the site (pictured, above).

In fact, the plot was selected 11 years ago during an attempt to find an area with similar geology to Spain’s Priorat, where Torres Chile might plant Carignan and Garnacha.

However, records Valderrama, “Being just 24km from the ocean with a cool climate, is it the best place for Pinot Noir, so we have planted the entire site [30 hectares] to Pinot.”

Considering Torres had to remove pine trees on the site, then build a lagoon to collect water for irrigation, as well as terrace the property, Valderrama says that the whole project has been “very expensive”.

Adding to the costs was the failure of the original planting of Mediterranean grapes, as well as the low yields, and need to protect the grapes from birds using netting over the vines.

Valderrama also told db that just 200 cases of Pinot will be released next year and that it would be more expensive than Cono Sur’s Ocio, which is priced a little over £30 in the UK.

However, he said that the Torres wine would be different in style: “It will be more European, lighter in colour and more elegant.”

Ricardo Beattig also identified the potential for Pinot in coastal Maule and told db that the grapes from his vineyards near the Pacific ocean were producing wines that were “very interesting, super fruity, with low alcohol and nice acidity.”

Beattig added: “Key your eyes open for Maule Costa.”

pinot_noir

Top quality Pinot with freshness and pure fruit is not easy to find.

For others though, Aconcagua Costa is becoming the source of Chile’s top Pinots.

One outstanding example stems from Clos des Fous, which has just released a Pinot from the Pucalán vineyard in Aconcagua Costa.

The vines were planted by Chilean terroir specialist Pedro Parra in 2007 and the first commercial vintage comes from 2012, bottled in March this year.

Called Arienne, just 250 cases have been made, with the first order coming from the UK’s Simon Taylor at Stone, Vine & Sun.

Furthermore, as previously reported by db, a launch planned being for late next year of an “icon” Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) from Viña Errazuriz under its “Burgundy Project” comes from Aconcagua Costa.

Viña Errázuriz president Eduardo Chadwick described Chile’s newly-recognised Aconcagua Costa region, as “a top class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir zone”. He also said that Errázuriz winemaker Francisco Beattig has been “really focusing on Pinot for the last five years” helped by the support of Burgundian consultant Louis-Michel Liger-Belair.

Noting that the 2014 launch vintage was afflicted by frost at the start of the growing season and relatively cool conditions at the end, the crop of Pinot was “small, intense, and pure” with “good acidity”.

He stated, “Top quality Pinot with freshness and pure fruit is not easy to find”.

 

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