Thursday, January 2, 2020

Ventisquero creating terroir-driven wines of character in Chile

Chile’s Ventisquero winery is a quality-focused house that seeks to produce wines from some of the most highly-regarded regions of the country, including Coastal Maipo, Casablanca, Leyda and Huasco valleys.  A relatively young winery with first plantings from 1998, the winery has built a reputation for producing award-winning wines.

Winemaker Alejandro Galaz met a group of media in New York City recently to pour his most recent releases and share his vision for the wines he is producing. 

Alejandro shared some details about why the wines of Ventisquero are being recognized for the quality and style.  One contributing factor the their success is that they only use estate fruit owned by the winery, so that they have control from vineyard to bottle.  Alejandro himself specializes in Pinot Noir and white varieties for the operation.  His passion for Pinot can be attributed in part to time he spent in Burgundy. Of that experience, he remembered, “I discovered how they work with the stems.”  Accordingly, Alejandro has been adding more stems to his Pinot noir barrels, and in 2018 some of his wines had as much as 50% stems in the fermentation.  He finds that adding stems in addition to the fruit gives the wines good structure. 

His passion for the grape was evident, and he said that, “For me, Pinot Noir is all about finesse and elegance and trying to express the place it came from.”

Heru Pinot Noir,  Casablanca Valley, 2017 – “Heru” is that hat of an elf, and it refers to a local myth of an elf who guards a treasure – in this case the granite soil is what’s valuable.  This wine was complex with peppers, cranberries, strawberries, spicy and minerality.  It was a Pinot Noir of note that sells for $40.

Grey Pinot Noir, Leyda Valley, 2017 – With a fresh nose of black fruits, this wine is from terraced vineyards. I found the profile to be inviting and fresh with blueberries and black berries on the palate as well.  $22

The Tara Vineyards - Tara is the name of a local salt mine. Alejandro told us that millions of years ago the Andes were under the Pacific Ocean and that the foothills of the Andes had salt lakes that dried and left salt.  The vineyards where Tara wines are grown have limestone and salt in the soil, affecting the resulting character of the wines.

Tara Red Wine 1/ Base Wine Pinot Noir, Atacama, 2016 –  I enjoyed the very perfumed nose of tobacco and roses and the nice weight on the palate, where flavors of dried cherry were prominent. The wine also had a good acidity.  $40

Tara Red Wine 2 / Base Wine Syrah, Atacama 2016 – This wine had a richer structure. The aromas were more savory – bacon, smoke, and spice.  The palate belied more stewed cherry and baking spice.  A rich wine for hearty winter stews and meats. $40

Tara White Wine 1 / Base Wine Chardonnay, Atacama, 2016 – The nose was briny with a whiff of salt air as well as herbal tones of chamomile.  This white gets structure from being aged on the skins. Old used barrels are used to give the wine texture rather than to add oak flavor.  $40

Alejandro is a passionate wine maker who also believes that the most important part of wine is "to have a nice moment with wine." As we finished our meal and savored a last pour together, I couldn't help but to appreciate his wine-making and his philosophy about sharing good moments with friends over a good bottle. 

As a whole, I found the wines of Ventisquero to be delightfully unique, while still very accessible.  For such well-crafted wines, the price of these bottles is absolutely a good value in the world of wine. I encourage wine lovers who seek a deliciously different expression of familiar grapes to seek them out.

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