Emiliana to attempt ‘natural wine’ for European supermarket

Emiliana, Chile’s biggest organic wine producer, is attempting to produce the country’s first large-volume no-added sulphur wine for a European supermarket.

Emiliana Wine Brands

Some of the wine brands produced by Emiliana, which is Chile’s largest organic winemaker, and a company owned by the country’s biggest producer: Concha y Toro. Picture credit: Wines of Chile

The wine, which is being shipped to the Coop grocer in Denmark, is a Syrah/Roussanne blend using organic grapes from Casablanca. Initially, just two cases have been sent to the supermarket from the 2014 vintage on a trial basis, according to Emiliana export director Andres Gillmore.

However, he told db that if the wine arrives in good condition, then Emiliana “could ship 400 cases of the wine from November this year”.

Gilmore added that the wine would go into the Coop’s smaller Irma retailing brand, which is focused on more upmarket produce, and already carries a selection of “natural” wines from Europe.

He also said that Emiliana would be Chile’s “first big brand to do this” – referring to shipping a wine with no added sulphur dioxide (a substance used in winemaking for its anti-oxidant properties).

Although there is a fast-developing “natural” wine movement in Chile, Emiliana’s winemaker Noelia Orts said that she knew of no other wines from the country that had been exported with no-added sulphur dioxide whatsoever.

Acknowledging that there are other “natural” wine producers in Chile – those who grow grapes and produce wine with minimal intervention – she told db, “We are the only producers I know that are doing a wine for export with no sulphites”.

While Chile’s De Martino is becoming well-known for it natural approach to winemaking in the UK – helped by the work of its importer, Les Caves de Pyrène – wines such as the its Viejas Tinajas Cinsault is only sold with no added sulphur in its home market, and sees a small addition before shipping abroad.

Orts mentioned Chilean organic producer Teillery – who Emiliana buy grapes from – as another winery working without sulphur, but she said that she believed there were small amounts of sulphur dioxide used in the wines destined for export. (However, it has since been brought to db‘s attention that in the UK, organic wine specialist Vintage Roots sell a “no sulphites added” Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, from this producer, which is based in Maipo).

Irma

Danish supermarket Irma – which is part of the Coop group – is hoping to stock the Emiliana organic wine with no added sulphur dioxide.

Orts said that she wasn’t sure that Emiliana’s trial would be successful. “I do have my doubts about exporting wine without any sulphur addition – I am worried about shipping it because I don’t know how it will be treated, and I am worried about how long the wine will last.”

Nevertheless, she said, “I know we can make it work locally.”

Orts explained that she had chosen to use Syrah for the product because it is a “reductive” grape, meaning that it has a higher propensity to resist oxidation.

The drinks business will be looking closely at the growing natural and organic wine movement in Chile in the September edition of the magazine, out next month.

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