I’m now on my way home from what has been one of the most enjoyable and interesting press trips that I have been on. So, stuck here delayed in Buenos Aires, here are some of my random thoughts prompted by the trip.
First, it was fantastic fun. My travelling companions were brilliant. Peter Richards, Chris Losh, David Williams and Emma Wellings were just great company. The banter was of the highest order, and everyone got on very well. I won’t forget it.
It seems a cliche to say that Chile is making progress. It also seems a bit patronizing. But the rate of progress in the Chilean wine scene is extremely rapid. In particular, the quest for special terroirs is going really well. We saw some fantastic new vineyards, and their potential is enormous.
Chile operates on quite a large scale. Experimental vineyards are typically 60 hectares! The good news is that when they start bearing fruit, there will be decent quantities of wine.
I tasted some quite serious wines: Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc stuck out as particularly promising. We also had some very nice Carmeneres. Currently, I reckon these are the most exciting varieties.
I really like the fact that many winemakers have overseas experience, and are aiming at wines with definition and freshness, shunning over-ripeness. Some winemakers are still a bit too scared of green flavours, though. Green can be good in the right context, and in small measure. Green doesn’t work with very ripe, sweet fruit – in the past some Chilean reds were both sweet and green, hence the fear of green on the part of winemakers.
Some of the Pinot Noir vineyards we saw might be better off with Syrah. Where conditions are just a little to warm for Pinot, Syrah thrives. I love cool-climate Syrah. It has some of the elegance of Pinot Noir, but with some bite and ‘edges’.
What Chile needs is to show the world that it can produce world class Pinot Noir and cool-climate Syrah. I think it can. I’m very excited by some of the wines I tried: they may be a work in progress, from young vines, but I’m going to buy a few of them. I’ll tell you which ones later.