Faulconer: ‘We’re not chasing scores anymore’

Chilean winemakers have grown in confidence and are no longer making their wines to a recipe or chasing scores, according to Emily Faulconer of Carmen.

Emily Faulconer, Carmen’s chief winemaker, believes Chileans aren’t chasing scores anymore

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent visit to Chile, Faulconer said: “Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile has changed so much since the ‘90s, having evolved from the Michel Rolland-inspired style into the 200% new French oak and 15% alcohol style of the early noughties.

“Over the last decade the Cabernets have become fresher in style and lower in oak and alcohol – people aren’t chasing scores or making wines to a recipe anymore.”

“Some producers are trying to go back to the winemaking style of their grandfathers, others have stayed faithful to tradition, while others still are re-inventing themselves.”

One of the recent additions to the Carmen range: an old vine Semillon from Colchagua

“There’s much more regional identity now – it’s not just Cabernet from Chile anymore, there’s a lot more to it”.

Faulconer, who took over from Sebastian Labbé as chief winemaker of Carmen in June, believes there has never been a more exciting time to make wine in Chile. “There is a bigger vision of what we can achieve in Chile now,” she told db.

“But we need to start taking our appellations more seriously and the only way we can do this is by working together. There’s a sense of collaboration with the younger producers in the country, but we have to nail our varieties and the regions they’re best suited to.”

“As producers it’s our responsibility to choose the best terroirs for our grapes, make the best wines so we can then tell the world about them. We have the land and now it’s time to start talking about place and origin to add value to our terrioirs.”

“We’ve talked about diversity a lot in Chile and have proved we can innovate, we now need to focus on how we can establish ourselves as a quality wine producer in the longterm.

“We need to be more specific about our origins and improve our production standards. We have a big responsibility to get that right.”

In terms of Chile’s most exciting emerging regions, Faulconer sees great potential in the south of the country and envisages more producers venturing south in search of freshness in their wines.

But as alluring as Chile’s emerging regions are, Faulconer believes Chile’s more traditional regions like Maipo also have a lot to offer.

“We’re starting to communicate about our old vines in Maipo, which are really special and a privilege to work with. We’re beginning to appreciate them and our patrimony,” she said.

As for making her mark on Carmen, Faulconer is keen to leave a lasting impression. “One tends to put their stamp on their wines so change at Carmen is inevitable, but it will be more about fine tuning,” she said.

Recent additions to the Carmen range include an old vine Semillon from Apalta, a Moscatel from Itata and a Malbec from Colchagua.

Having chalked up experience at Cakebread Cellars in Napa, Trinity Hill in New Zealand and Château Canon in Bordeaux, Faulconer was most recently chief winemaker at Viña Arboleda, Eduardo Chadwick of Errazuriz’ boutique project on the Aconcagua Coast.

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