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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Category Archives: Chile

Matetic Vineyards EQ Syrah

Chile (San Antonio Valley)


Matetic Vineyards EQ Syrah 2008

Dark, dark violet ink. Intense black fruit nose, with liquorice spice notes. On the palate a fresh acidity, a clear fruit concentrate, nicely structured. Full-bodied and full-flavoured. Enlivening the Christmas season.  $

Matetic Vineyards dates back only to 1999, with the decision of the Matetic family to expand its business interests in Chile to the production of wine. The San Antonio Valley was the site chosen, about 120 km west of Santiago, specifically its Rosario region. Here the soil and climatic conditions are excellent for the cultivation of grapes. Founder Jorge Matetic put in place a team of professional winemakers and consultants and Matetic Vineyards quickly developed a reputation that placed it among Chile’s top wine producers.

Matetic produces both red and white varieties. For red, syrah predominates. The syrah vineyards are in two near flat sections of the Rosario Valley, with a slight north elevation. They consist of decomposed granite topped by red clay. The climate is temperate mediterranean, strongly influenced by the South Pacific Ocean. It is marked by broad temperature fluctuations, as much as 20 degrees on a given day. The cool nights and moderately hot days are ideal for the ripening grapes.

The ninety hectares under vine are organic, with a leaning towards biodynamic methods. Careful vineyard management limits yields. Harvesting is by hand. The best grapes are destemmed and inspected further so only the most perfectly ripened find their way to the temperature controlled fermentation tanks. The tanks relatively small size allows for more individual attention, and greater precision during the blending process.

There’s a state-of-the-art cellar for the storage and maturing of the wine in oak barrels, fitting rather impressively with the landscape. It’s the major focus of any wine tour. Wine tourism is a major business in Chile and Matetic Vineyards fits the bill perfectly.

All this sounds rather businesslike, contrasting with the centuries-old, multi-generational domaines of Europe, but it is the more likely reality among New World wineries. In this case what it lacks in history it makes up in quality.

Raise a glass. Feliz Navidad.


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Viñedos Emiliana Coyam

Chile (Colchagua Valley)

syrah, merlot, carmenére, cabernet sauvignon, mouvèdre, malbec

Even on days when the sky pales and more snow falls (like today) and winds roar, my heart lifts, never failing to be warmed by the colour of St. John’s.

Rather like Coyam, the city straddles the Old World and the New. St. John’s has touches of Europe in some of its downtown streets and alleyways, while in other parts it couldn’t be anything but North American. It makes an ideal venue for wine-tasting.

Viñedos Emiliana Coyam 2006

Behind the inertness of the label lurks a wine dark and stout of heart. As stout as coyam or “Chilean oak” which gives it its name. (Is that what is on the label, two slabs of oak?) A wine that bolsters a belief in blends, that wins over the drinker with its structure and confidence. A wine for a never-before-prepared meal  on a blustery night. There’s a ripeness, a dense black fruit juiciness here, very nicely controlled. Edging toward elegance, yet remaining a wine of the earth.  $

Ah, but the winemaker at Emiliana Organico, Alvaro Espinoza, is himself brightly clad. (A touch of California, perhaps, where he apprenticed. Or the University of Bordeaux where he did his training? I think his Bordeaux experience comes through more in his wines.)

Espinoza has been called “one of the finest winemakers in South America today.” Besides his work at Emiliana, he runs his own small winery – Antiyal – in the Maipo Valley.

Recruited by José Guilisasti in 1997, when Guilisasti initiated an organic venture independent of Santa Emiliana (itself an offshoot of the Concha y Toro, the largest wine company in Chile), Espinoza helped move some vineyards into biodynamics in 2000 and it is from these that Coyam emerges.

Here llamas help keep weeds in check. Chickens are set loose for pest control. Legions of ladybugs play management roles. All compost and biodynamic preparations come from plants grown on site.

A regard for sustainability and respect for all aspects of  making wine are initiatives Emiliana takes beyond the vineyards. The winery has committed itself to fair working conditions for its employees, to programs to increase their level of education, as well as providing assistance to local schools.

And from it all comes a terrific glass of wine — well priced, well liked.

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