Serendipity is when you set out to write a blog post about snacks to pair with Chardonnay, and your homemade zucchini chips go up in smoke in the oven, therefore dashing any hopes of photographing your now-charred snacks, but then your inbox is magically graced with an enticing story idea. And photos!
Chicas y chicos, here’s where I get to warn y’all that, in this era of Asia Argento, the post you’re about to read could be construed as blatantly sexist. When it comes to vino, however, I’m all about education, and if it takes some visual aids to get the message across, well, I’m all for that, too. Really then, the post could be construed as blatantly educational, with some nice pictures thrown in for good measure. You decide.
In all seriousness, Chile just announced the creation of four new DOs, or denominaciones de origen. A DO is a geographic region that’s legally recognized and whose name, or appellation, identifies where the grapes used to make a specific wine were grown. In the U.S., we have AVAs, or American Viticultural Areas. Just about every major wine growing region in the world has an appellation system in place.
Joining the list of Chile’s world-renowned DOs are Lo Abarca, Licantén, Apalta and Los Lingues. In order to label a wine as a DO in Chile, the appellation rules require that 85% of the grapes used to make that wine come from the region indicated on the bottle.
Now back to the visual aids part.
It looks like the Chilean vino industry is experiencing a renaissance, and a group of young profesionales is blazing the trail. Without further ado, meet five of Chile’s next-gen winemakers.
Julio and Juan Bouchon took over J. Bouchon winery from their father in 2014. The brothers were inspired to revive some País vines dating back to the 1500s. Pais was first planted in the Americas by the Spaniards, and soon was replaced bt trendier plantings of Bordeaux varietals. The Bouchon brothers see these vines as an opportunity to craft intriguing, affordable wines that reflect Chile’s centuries-old winemaking heritage. J. Bouchon now leads the revitalization of País after having invested in research and development to track the history and evolution of País around the world. Thanks to DNA testing, they are connecting the historic dots to better understand Chilean País alongside its relatives in the Canary Islands and Spain (where it is called Listan Prieto), California (Mission Grape) and Argentina (Criolla Chica).
A purist at heart, Felipe Garcia, founder of Garcia + Schwaderer, champions what he considers “true Chilean wine.” Inspired by old-vine Carignan from Maule, he’s started two of Chile’s most influential small-producer movements: MOVI (Movement of Independent Vintners) and VIGNO (Vignadores de Carignan). VIGNO is considered Chile’s first official DO as it advocates for and preserves the quality of old-vine Carignan, specifically from the dry-farmed coastal region of Maule.
Diego Rivera, winemaker at Amayna, believes that Leyda is one of Chile’s most unique terroirs and holds promise for producing some of Chile’s finest wines. Diego started making wine in 2010 after earning a degree in agronomy and enology from Chile’s Universidad Católica. After graduation, he traveled abroad to make hard cider in England. He also worked a harvest and made wine in Burgundy the year after. Diego is now head winemaker for both VGS wines Amayna and Boya and enjoys making wine on Chile’s coast.
Ignacio Casali, Amayna’s viticulturist, studied agronomic engineering at Universidad Mayor de Chile. Armed with a graduate degree in Viticulture and Enology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, he has a knack for speaking with the American wine consumer and knowing how to connect the passion behind Amayna’s wines to people with varying tastes. In 2004, he traveled to California’s Napa Valley to work for Ancien Wines and Whitford Cellars, which focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Ignacio also spent time in Burgundy and the Rhone Valley, studying each region’s unique terroir.
Matias Garcés Silva, executive director of Amayna, founded the winery in 2000 when he tried to make wine from a small experimental vineyard in Leyda. Later that year he collaborated with Jean Michel Novelle, a prestigious Swiss enologist whom he invited to Chile for a look at Leyda’s terroir. The two bonded and in 2002, Jean Michel and Matias were making garage-style wine, the start of Amayna wines. Today, Matias believes that great wine comes from a thorough analysis of the soil, then planting the right varieties for each type of soil. Amayna’s wines are produced using methods that preserve the character of the vineyards.