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Champagne Thiénot to release sparkling wine from Chile

Champagne Thiénot has teamed up with Viña Tabalí to release a traditional method sparkling wine from the edge of the Atacama in the far north of Chile.

Tatie Brut uses Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Talinay vineyard in Limarí, which is located in the far north of the country, on the edge of the Atacama desert

The fizz, which is due to hit shelves early next year, uses Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Tabalí’s Talinay vineyard in Limarí, which, despite its location near the driest desert on earth, is a cool site with temperature-moderating Pacific influences.

Using grapes from the 2015 and 2016 vintages, 30,000 bottles have been made of the inaugural Brut non-vintage sparking wine, which will sell in Chile for US$22 a bottle, and has been called Tatie.

Addressing as many as 30 Masters of Wine on a group visit to Chile last month, Tabalí’s CEO and chief winemaker Felipe Müller explained how he had always hoped to make a fizz from the Talinay vineyard, due to its combination of cool conditions and, unusually for Chile, limestone soils.

However, with no experience of producing sparkling wine, he went to Champagne, where he found that the makers of Champagne Thiénot were willing to embark on a joint venture.

Nevertheless, it was only after three years of tasting potential base wines for the Chilean fizz that Champagne Thiénot finally agreed to collaborate on the sparkling wine project.

According to Müller, the technical director at Thiénot comes to Chile annually to check on the wines, and has made many helpful suggestions on how to achieve a serious style of fizz, starting with the management of the vineyard.

“I had to completely change the way I make traditional wine from the beginning,” recorded Müller.

“We needed to increase the yields because you don’t want a lot of fruit for sparkling wine, it has to be austere and restrained, so it’s not tutti-frutti in the glass,” he added.

Having tried the wine in Chile, db can report that it is fresh and bright, with a firm acidity, some bready aromas, and youthful, delicate apple and lemon fruit flavours, making it surprisingly close to Champagne in character.

This is not Chile’s only traditional method fizz from Limarí however, with the Azur brand beating Tabalí to it.

And, like Tabalí, Azur also sought a partner for its fizz, choosing Berlucchi from Italy’s Franciacorta sparkling wine region to collaborate on the project.

Meanwhile, Chile’s biggest wine producer, Concha y Toro, also has a traditional method fizz from Limarí called ‘Subercaseaux’ SBX Brut.

Champagne Thiénot’s decision to team up with Tabalí follows the Champagne brand’s move to make a collaborative fizz with Australia’s Penfolds.

Launched in May this year, Penfolds released three Champagnes from the 2012 vintage – a Chardonnay Pinot Noir Cuvée, and two single vineyard wines, a Blanc de Blancs from Avize Grand Cru, and a Blanc de Noirs from Aÿ Grand Cru.

Key facts: Tatie Brut

Brand owners: Viña Tabalí (70%) and Champagne Thienot (30%)
Source: Talinay vineyard in Limarí
Blend: 60% Chardonnay / 40% Pinot
Harvests: 2015 and 2016
Winemaking: base wines go through full malo-lactic, before undergoing secondary fermentation in bottle
Abv: 11.5%
pH: 3.0
Dosage: 8g/l
Production: 30,000 bottles
Price: US$30

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