There is a new world of Chilean wine just starting to make its way into Canada – a movement influenced by the naturalists and small producers seeking site expression in lesser known regions. Among this excitement, some of the old guard have been forgotten, but a quiet revolution has been going on with many of these established producers.
The shift to more aromatic, higher acid, less sweet, and less alcoholic wines is in the mainstream. Early influence from the naturalist movement was a part of this, but the general shift has more to do with changing diets and the rise of vegetable forward menus. The movement has resulted in a greater proliferation of balanced wines. It has also made it exciting to revisit some of those old well-scoring wines of the past to see if and how they have evolved.
Don Maximiano founded Vina Errazuriz in the Valle de Aconcagua in 1870. Today it is one of the most important establishment wineries in Chile – right up there with Concha Y Toro. Errazuriz has been evolving its viticulture and style in the past few years. The 2014 demonstrates a lighter touch with alcohol and oak and greater freshness and aromatics. The result is an impressive, distinctly Chilean, Cab blend that works well with many more foods than its past iterations.
The vineyards for the top wine ‘Don Maximiano’ contain granite and alluvial soils as well as volcanic colluvial soils. The wine is made with steel ferments and 70% new oak barrique aging. The blend comprises Cabernet Sauvignon at 68%, plus 18% Carménère, 9% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot .
Since my visit to Mexico City, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the ‘funk’ and intensity of South American wines – these characteristics pair very well with meso-american foods, chiles, spices, moles, and preparation techniques. It’s a whole world of deliciousness I am only starting to discover. My return to seriously considering Chilean wines after several years hiatus bodes some exciting discoveries. Most importantly, there is a lesson about trends here – the new passion for the ‘naturalists’ is not necessarily the creation of a movement, but one manifestation of a broader shift in culture and taste that has come to encompass a far broader swathe of the world of food and wine than the ‘natural’ niche.
$93 + tax at BCLDB