Chilean producer trials native beech

22nd August, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt

Chilean wine producer De Martino is trialling wooden maturation vessels made from the country’s native tree, the raulí beech.

rauli foudre

Sebastian de Martino is trialling foudres made from Chile’s native tree called Raulí

The wood, which is pinkish with a fine grain, was historically used for making large wooden foudres in Chile, but has since been replaced by the use of stainless steel, concrete or oak vats in the country’s wineries.

However, Sebastian de Martino told the drinks business in Chile last month that he was re-instating the use of raulí containers at his winery in Isla de Maipo in the Maipo Valley.

“We are working on restoring three raulí foudres that we have found in Itata,” he said, referring to one of Chile’s most southerly regions, which was the first area to embrace viticulture in the country.

One of these vessels is already in use (pictured above), and currently contains 5,000 litres of wine made using a field blend of red grapes from the Itata Valley, where dry-farmed, old vine País, Cinsault and Carignan can be found, among other grapes.

“Our aim is to make wines that reflect the region,” he said, adding, “Itata is the origin of Chilean viticulture.”

He also told db that raulí foudres have not been made in Chile for over 20 years, meaning that the few examples he has been able to find and buy have required extensive restoration work to make them suitable for storing wine.

De Martino stopped using new oak on all its wines in 2011 and currently uses a mixture of used French oak barriques, 5,000 litre oak foudres from Stockinger in Austria, and tinajas, which are 100 year-old clay amphorae, which like the raulí foudres, are sourced from Itata, and were once used to ferment and store wine from the region.

tinajas

De Martino has 130 tinajas in total. Each one costs around £200 according to Sebastian de Martino, which he said was a small price for a “piece of history”.

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