Chile- Home of the C & C (Cabernet & Carmenere)

By March 17, 2014Winemakers

We’ve started our tour to Chile and everyone is settled into their new digs in Santiago. After a guided tour of the city- we saw part of the Panamerican Olympic Games- we had our welcome dinner at a very nice restaurant- Divertimiento Chileano.

Today we began the serious part: wineries. We began with Odfjell Vineyards, a relatively new winery (1998) owned by a Norwegian. Their state of the art gravity winery produces some outstanding wines. The winery is located in Padre Hurtado, in the Maipo coastal range, which has cooler temperatures than the high Maipo wine region.

Odfjell started the 2014 harvest today, St Patrick’s Day and just 3 weeks ago started exporting to the US with Epic Wines. They produce great reds with their icon wine being their malbec. It’s a certified organic and biodynamic winery and produce 2 lines of wine: Armador made to drink younger, and Orsada, which keep longer.

They also raise fjord horses to breed, work in the fields and as therapy animals. They are pulling out their pinot noir and replanting with Cabernet because of climate change and alluvial soil. We tasted 4 wines: the Armador ’12 Carmenere, fruity, light ruby color and easy to drink; the Orzado Carignane ’11, with a peach plum aroma that would pair nicely with sushi. Armador incidentally means ship builder and Orzada means ‘set sail at sea,’ all references to the owner’s background; the Orzada ’11 malbec with typical fruitiness; and their Winemaker’s Travesy ’11, a blend of syrah, malbec and carignane.

Odfjell by the way is considered a ’boutique’ winery by Chilean standards with production of 1 million bottles!

Then we went to Undurraga for the balance of the day- and what a treat!  Undurraga was founded 129 years ago and was sold 7 years ago to a group of investors. It has over 4,000 acres of vineyards and 14 vineyards from northern Chile to Patagonia. This year’s harvest started late and will finish late May. There is no phyloxera in Chile and vines don’t need to be grafted. It was awarded ‘Best Winery’ and ‘Best Producer’ in Chile in 2012 and 2013.

After a tour to their impressive cellars and native Mapuche Museum, we had a tasting of their new line-TH (Terroir Hunter) which focuses on matching grapes with the best terroir. First was the TH Sauvignon Blanc on granite/clay soil, with good acidity and typical nose; TH Carmenere ’11, red clay over granite, typical bell pepper aroma; Founders’ Collection Cabernet ’09, a soft, ruby wine which one of us called a feminine cab; and lastly their Late Harvest, a blend of 85% semillion and gewurz, which was a bargain at $10 for 750ml.

Then we were treated to an outdoor barbecue which everyone loved- lamb, beef, chicken, wine. The weather was superb- a clear blue sky and understandably no one wanted to leave. Thank you Dave at Undurraga for such great hospitality.


Alfresco lunch at Undurraga

Alfresco lunch at Undurraga

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