Errazuriz going back to style of the ‘80s

Francisco Baettig, chief winemaker of Errazuriz, is returning to the fresher, lower alcohol style of wine made at the estate in the ‘80s to cater to consumer tastes.

Francisco Baettig

Francisco Baettig

Speaking at a vertical tasting of Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve at Vinexpo in Bordeaux this week, Baettig said:

“Did we go to far in empowering the wines in the ‘90s? We were all about exposing the fruit in the past as we were aiming for a big, rich, opulent style at the time.

“Today I’m striving for more aromatics and am not afraid about having leafy notes in Cabernet Sauvignon – a hint of herbaceousness is part of its character.

“Don Maximiano is still aged for 22 months in oak but a smaller percentage of it is new wood. I’m not trying to make a Bordeaux; I’m making a distinctly Chilean wine so I’ve added Carmenere to the blend.

“I’m also picking around 10 days earlier to achieve more freshness but it’s not only about picking early. I’m irrigating more as I don’t want to stress the vines out too much.

“I’m still trying to find the perfect balance between ripeness and freshness for the wine.”

Like his Chilean contemporary Marcelo Papa of Concha y Toro, Baettig is experimenting with ageing a portion of Founder’s Reserve in 5,000-litre Italian casks known as “botti” commonly used to age Barolo and Barbaresco.

Chilean wine expert Peter Richards MW, who co-hosted the tasting with Baettig and Errazuriz president Eduardo Chadwick, believes the change in style signals an exciting step for both the estate and Chilean wine.

“Errazuriz is going back to the future. The 2013 vintage points to a very exciting direction the wine is going in. There are elements of the style of the ‘80s in there as the emphasis is on freshness, elegance, drinkability and gastronomy,” he said.

“The wine in the ‘90s was all about power, richness, ripeness and youthful exuberance. It was a more modern style when the estate was pushing for ripeness.

“Today, the signature character of Don Maximiano is still there within the context of change and it’s evolving towards extreme finesse, which is fascinating,” he added.

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