by Daina Paulin
Ask any winemaker, and they’ll tell you the final days before any harvest are always charged with a certain tension, filled with hopes and prayers that the weather will hold until the ideal moment to pick. However, for Chilean winemakers, there was more at stake during the 2007 harvest than usual. “This year we were especially vigilant until the day of harvest,” explains Marcello Papa, the head winemaker for Concha y Toro’s Casillero del Diablo. “Everything had lined up so well, we had the perfect conditions for the entire season and we were scared to lose them in the last few days.”
Luckily for Marcello the weather did hold, and the result is a vintage that many veteran winemakers are praising as one of the finest they have seen during their careers. Ignacio Recabarren, winemaker for Concha y Toro’s Trio line, claims that the 2007 vintage “will eventually accomplish the highest scores in the history of Chilean wine.”
The Perfect Recipe
So what made 2007 different from other years? The answer is the weather phenomenon, La Nina, which graced Chile with cooler temperatures and limited precipitation. The mild temperatures affected the vines’ growth, slowing its production and its maturation at harvest time. The result was 30% smaller yields of ripe, concentrated fruit. The reduced rainfall also played an important role, contributing to the fruits’ intense flavors and allowing the winemakers to wait until just the right moment to pick.
As one of Chile’s largest and most prominent producers, Concha y Toro has spearheaded a campaign to spread the good news. Selected wines from their portfolio will feature a bottle capsule announcing the 2007 “Historic Vintage.” Casillero del Diablo, the group’s iconic wine, provides an affordable taste of the exceptional vintage. Casillero del Diablo’s stand-out wines from 2007 include their Merlot, which is impressively complex and well-balanced, as well as their Carmenère and Shiraz. A few steps up the price ladder is the Marques de Casa Concha line of wines. Marques is a single-vineyard concept produced from Concha y Toro’s Santa Isabel vineyard, one of the highest in all of Chile.
Although 2007 is being hailed as one of the best vintages for premium red wine, it is also raising the bar for Chilean whites. Both Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay benefited from 2007’s cool temperatures. As Papa states matter-of-factly, “Red or white, you can’t go wrong with this vintage.”
A Look into the Future
The 2007 vintage is viewed as one of the best in the past 10 to 15 years, and for many, one of the most memorable in the country’s history. So will we have to wait another 15 years to see another of its kind? Concha y Toro isn’t taking that risk; instead it’s heading north. Recognizing the need for a new area to develop cool-climate grapes, the group has purchased a winery in Limare, a viticulture area located 400 kilometers north of Santiago and 25 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. The region was selected for its raised elevation, strong coastal influence and calcareous soils. The new line of wine, Maycas Del Limari, is focused on producing cool-climate wines of classic varietals such as Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and two styles of Chardonnay, one aged in oak and another in an un-oaked Chablis style. Magas Del Limari is already available in select markets, and should be distributed nationally in the next few months. Winemaker Marcello Papa, who oversees the new project, concludes: “We saw the tremendous success cool temperatures brought for Chile in the 2007 vintage, now we are eager to see what the cooler climate of Limare will bring for us in the coming years.”
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