Chile’s independent, organic wine industry continues to thrive

The country captures the interest of both national and international experts via one of Chile’s longest-running, independent wine sector events.

Levita is a pink espumante from Mujer Andina, shared at the Chanchos Deslenguados wine-tasting event in June 2014.
Levita is a pink espumante from Mujer Andina, shared at the Chanchos Deslenguados wine-tasting event in June 2014.

A popular exporter of a wide range of wines, Chile is no stranger to the international wine market. The country’s geography makes it a naturally rich location for harvesting lush, firm grapes — carmenere and país being just two of Chile’s grape varieties.

In recent years, Chile’s commitment to the production of independent, organic wine has grown significantly. So much so that, for the seventh year in a row, independent wine producers across the country gathered together in June for Santiago’s popular wine-tasting event, Chanchos Deslenguados 2014, to share the fruits of their most recent organic harvests.

Francisco Fernández Araya from TellusWine — whose vineyards are located in Huelquén, close to Rancagua — attended the wine-tasting event with the vineyard’s 2013 harvest. This particular harvest is a special fermentation of five variations of the Chilean sepa — a popular grape variety found in a number of countries across the world, including Chile.

“Next year we hope to harvest a new wine made entirely from the garnacha sepa,” Fernández told This Is Chile.

“The país sepa in Chile has been in fashion for a long time. We want to break away from these general trends and offer something different. The garnacha sepa has a fruitier taste and we’d like to explore this grape’s potential for the 2014 harvest,” he continued.

Oliver Jallois and Emeric Montignac — the two wine producers behind Casas De Bucalemu — have been working for the past year on a special independent line of organic white wines, which they premiered at the recent Chanchos Deslenguados wine-tasting event.

“Very few sweet white wines in Chile use acidity like we do,” Jallois told This Is Chile.

“In this new line of organic sweet wines, we have increased the levels of acidity in the product to help create an overall balanced flavor. Our sweet wines are still sweet, but the balance acquired, thanks to the increased levels of acidity in play, means that our wines don’t leave a lingering, sugary residue on the palette,” Jallois explained.

Casas De Bucalemu produced three white wines from the 2013 harvest, one dry and two sweet. Even though the sweetest of them all — with an 11.5 percent volume of alcohol — contains a total of 36 grams of sugar, the product remains incredibly balanced.

TellusWines’ five-sepa bottles and Casas De Bucalemu’s acidic-sweet white, are just two examples of the many interesting projects in which Chile’s independent wine industry is investing. Natural fermentation is a recurring theme. The costs are lower and the finished product is considered to be of a much higher quality than mass-produced, chemically-fermented wines

“A number of the organic wine producers here today are also working on the development of methane recycling projects,” Jallois was proud to highlight.

“The production of methane which occurs as a result of wine fermentation is something which organic, independent wine producers in Chile are keen to tackle and measures are already being put into place,” he confirmed.

Two Chilean oenologists, Andrea Jure and Carolina Fernández, are founders of Mujer Andina — another organic wine producer present at the recent Chanchos Deslenguados wine-tasting. Not interested in competing with the most recent red and white harvests on offer, Mujer Andina chose to present their 12 percent alcohol volume, 2012-bottled espumante, Levita — the duo’s first ever harvest.

“We harvest the fruit in Valle del Maipo and it’s made entirely from the Chilean syrah grape. It’s incredibly rare to find an espumante made from the Chilean syrah, as it’s a black grape — which is what gives Levita it’s unique, orangey-pink color,” Jure told This Is Chile.

The innovative idea of producing an espumante from a black grape represents the kind of creativity which lives within Chile’s independent wine sector — one which is growing in numbers and quality year on year. Jallois, who attended the very first Chanchos Deslenguados wine-tasting seven years ago, testified to the incredible growth and success of this particular event over the years.

“This event has grown so much since it first began. There were just a few serious independent wine producers who arrived the first year. The wineries which attend now are incredibly knowledgeable about organic wine fermentation and about the issues which affect the industry in Chile as a whole,” Jallois explained.

According to Jallois, Chile produces wonderful wine and the fermentation processes of wine in Chile are improving all the time. He believes that events such as Chanchos Deslenguados play an important role in the development of Chile’s independent wine industry.