Dos Andes: Veranda and Agostinos, Bío Bío Valley, Chile   
Exploring the diversity of Chile's Vineyards, Part 1

The Miraflores Vineyard, Bio Bio

Dos Andes is the new name for VC Family Estates (Viña Córpora), the leading producer in the Bío Bío region of Chile. Dos Andes are focusing quite strongly on Bío Bío (now 400 hectares), but have vineyards across a range of regions, with 1500 hectares under vine throughout Chile, and now also in Argentina (Neuquén and Rio Negro valleys in Patagonia). Expansion has been quite rapid of late; just 1000 of these 1500 hectares planted are currently in production.

The Bio Bio River

Veranda's Santa Rosa Vineyard

Bío Bío is one of newer cool climate valleys in Chile, located at a latitude of 37 degrees south, 500 km south of Santiago (equivalent in latitude to Argentine Patagonia and New Zealand in the southern hemisphere). There’s quite a bit of rainfall here – 1200 mm annually – but most of this falls between May and August. The summers are quite hot, but short, and by harvest time temperatures have dipped down quite a bit. In terms of heat summation, the region has 1100–1200 growing degree days (GDDs), which is quite cool (for comparison, Burgundy is 1200, Bordeaux 1350 and the Barossa is 1700).

Santa Ana Vineyards, Pinot Noir

Córpora’s first plantings here were in 1993, near the small town of Negrete and the Bío Bío river (the Santa Ana vineyards, now 140 hectares), but since then things have expanded. Miraflores I was planted in 2005/6 and is 120 hectares; Miraflores II followed in 2006/7 and is another 120 hectares. The Miraflores sites are on the Bureo river.

Horse ride through the vineyards near the Veranda winery, Negrete

Pinot Noir, Santa Rosa

Then, in 2007 an exciting project called the Santa Rosa vineyard was started, in Mulchén. 40 hectares of Pinot Noir were planted, followed by another 10 hectares in 2008. There is experimentation here with different planting densities. As part of this project, there’s one of Chile’s most remarkable hillside vineyards. Looking down onto the Renaico river is a 1.5 hectare block with Pinot Noir planted on single stakes at a density of 13 500 vines/hectare. Near here is another interesting vineyard – the Rio block – which is 1.2 hectares of Riesling on a long narrow slope on the river bank. In addition, Dos Andes have vineyards in east Bío Bío, near the coast: Yumbel and Quinel.

Renaico vineyard

The initial vineyard plantings at Santa Ana, near the winery, are on alluvial, stony soils. These were giving lovely tannins, but the grapes were getting a bit too ripe, and – to be honest – it is unlikely that this site will make great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But the newer plantings are on much more complex soils. For example, Miraflores is planted on volcanic soils with some clay, and a 5 hectare site at the top of the property is where they think the best Pinot Noir will come from. The clay in Miraflores is high in magnesium, which has the same effect as calcium in preserving acidity in the grapes.

A film of the various vineyard visits:

Time for some technical talk: Ca2+ and Mg2+ both have cation exchange capacity and can reduce the potassium (K+) content in the berry. If there is too much K+ in the berry the protons (H+) leave to balance the charge so acidity is lost. In this case, the Mg2+ in the clay makes it difficult for K+ to enter the vine because of antagonism. However, with too much Mg2+ you get yield problems because K+ is important for fruit set, so it is a question of balance.

Soils at Santa Rosa - mostly clay

This visit focused on two of Dos Andes brands, Veranda ( and Agostinos (, which are focused on (but not exclusively made from) Bío Bío fruit.

Louis Vallet

Canadian-born Pascal Marchand is the executive winemaker. Marchand was involved at the beginning of Veranda, which was initiated as a joint venture between Córpora and Boisset in 2002. When Marchand left Boisset, Veranda became 100% owned by Córpora. Marchand’s side-kick is the engaging Louis Vallet, who trained with Marchand at Domaine de la Vougerie, and who now spends 7 months of the year in Chile working on the Pinot Noir side of things. Another Canadian, Patrick Piuze, a winemaker working in Chablis, has influenced white winemaking here quite strongly, and acts as consultant here. As well as Vallet, we met with viticulturalist Carlos Carrasco, and white winemaker Rodrigo Romero.

Carlos Carrasco

Rodrigo Romero

The Veranda winemaking has 46 small tanks, and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are made here. Pinot Noir winemaking is simple. All is hand picked and then goes through two sorting tables, is taken to tank by elevator after destemming. There’s a 10 day cold soak. This is not to extract colour (not a problem here), but just to get more of the fruity flavours. Sulfur dioxide is used at crushing, as well as a bit of tartaric if necessary. Alcoholic fermetation takes place over 7–9 days, and there’s a 10 day post-ferment maceration to work on the texture of the tannins. They have automatic plungers on the tanks but prefer to do it by hand. ‘You feel it when you do it by hand,’ says Vallet, who likes to use pigeage at the beginning and remontage at the end. ‘Let the tank do what it wants: I want the signature of the year and the maximum typicity in each tank.’

The winery

For the Chardonnay, whole bunch pressing is used. Juice is allowed to settle in the tank without enzymes, and then Rodrigo likes to use the ‘golden lees’. After first racking, the yeast lees has three elements: the creamy, yellow lees, the green lees, and then at the bottom the brown, oxidised lees. The golden part of the yeast lees is selected and kept for the fermentation. He doesn’t bother measuring the NTUs (a measure of turbidity) which can go as high as 1000. He also likes to use horizontal tanks to get big contact with the lees. Battonage is not used except in exceptional circumstances, and a low proportion of new barrels is used. He’s careful not to press too long because of the risk of losing acidity with the heavier press fractions.

The Miraflores II vineyard

Chardonnay is cropped at 9–10 tons/hectare. For Pinot Noir, it is possible to take 7/8 tons/ha and get good quality, but going down to 5 would improve quality. The team would like to go even lower, but say that in Chile it’s difficult to do this for financial reasons.

For Sauvignon Blanc, Rodrigo uses enzymes in the juice clarification step and likes to ferment clean juice (NTU around 30/40)


Agustinos Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2010 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
From Negrete; 12.5% alcohol. Assertive, herby, slightly mineral nose with green pepper and a hint of grapefruit. The palate is lively and fresh with a citrus edge to the green notes. Nice purity and precision; avoids (just) being too green. 86/100 (£5.99)

Agustinos Sauvignon Blanc Reserva Privada 2010 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
From Quinel; 12% alcohol. Nice aromatics: some ripe tropical notes with fresh green pepper too. Lovely fruit purity. The palate is fruity and lively with good acidity and pungent grapefruit freshness. 89/100 (£7.99)

Veranda Sauvignon Blanc Quinel Single Vineyard 2010 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
12.5% alcohol. Distinctive aromatic nose with nice green methoxypyrazine notes and a chalky edge. The palate is lively and fruity with nice density. Bold but also has some sweet fruit. 89/100 (£14.99)

Agustinos Riesling Reserva Privada Quinel 2010 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
Harvested two weeks later than the Sauvignon Blanc and given a long pressing at low pressure. Quite richly aromatic with citrus and honey notes. The palate has some herby depth to it with attractive dense citrus notes as well as pear and apple. Finishes spicy, with high acidity. An unusual, intriguing wine. 89/100 (£7.99)

Agustinos Chardonnay Reserva Privada 2010 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
Wild yeasts, no enzymes, no nutrients. No oak. Rich, honeyed, almost malty character with some ripe sweet fruit. Nutty and broad. 82/100 (£7.99)

Agustinos Chardonnay Gran Reserva 2009 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
13.5% alcohol. Broad, nutty nose is subtly toasty with sweet peachy fruit. The palate is broad and fruity with ripe apple, pear and melon fruit. Attractive in a rich, fruity style. 85/100 (£14.99)

Veranda Chardonnay Quillay Single Vineyard 2009 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
Clone 95; 5% new oak; 14% alcohol. Complex ripe melon and pear fruit nose with nutty, toasty depth. Ripe and rich. The palate is soft and broad with ripe, quite textured creamy fruit. Appealing but could have more freshness and minerality. 88/100 (£14.99)

Veranda Chardonnay Miraflores Single Vineyard 2007 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
Broad, nutty and toasty. Quite rich and broad with attractive ripe fruit. Nice texture here. 90/100 (£14.99)

Veranda Chardonnay Oda 2009 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
Clone 76; 15% new oak, 13.5% alcohol. Rich nose, but still quite taut, with spice and nuts as well as vanilla and toast. The palate shows vanilla and pear fruit and is lively and spicy, with nice acidity. A bold, complex wine. 90/100 (£24.99)

Agustinos Chardonnay Quinel 2008 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
A selection of the best grapes aged without any oak. 13.8% alcohol. Very rich, toasty and creamy with melon and herb notes on the nose. The palate shows a honeyed richness to the nutty fruit, finishing with some waxy lanolin notes and a bit of lemony freshness. 86/100 (£24.99)

Agustinos Gewürztraminer Reserva Privada 2010 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
Slightly syrupy nose, which shows grapey fruit with some varietal lychee character. Soft, broad-textured palate with grapey fruitiness. Nice fresh fruit. 86/100 (£7.99)

Agustinos Pinot Noir Reserva Privada 2009 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
This is a more commercial style, made in the Quinel winery. 13% alcohol. Fresh and a bit sappy with attractive red cherry fruit, nice acidity and some savoury tannic structure. Very appealing. 87/100 (£7.99)

Agustinos Pinot Noir Collipulli Gran Reserva 2009 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
25% new oak, this is from Miraflores 2, and a west-facing single vineyard. 13.5% alcohol. Deep coloured. Sweet ripe cherry fruit nose. The palate is generous with bold dark cherry and plum fruit. Modern-styled and pure with lots of fruit, and hints of chocolate and spice. 89/100 (£14.99)

Veranda Pinot Noir Quinel 2009 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
14% alcohol. Ripe, generous and richly fruited with nice cherry fruit, but also some savoury, tannic structure keeping the fruit from being too sweet. Nice freshness here with a bit of juiciness to the fruit. Some restraint here, and potential for development. 91/100 (£14.99)

Veranda Pinot Noir Negrete 2009 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
14% alcohol. Expressive, with attractive, almost lush dark cherry fruit and a subtle sappy edge, with hints of green. Overall, there’s lovely pure, ripe red cherry and plum fruit, with some elegance. 91/100 (£14.99)

Veranda Pinot Noir Oda 2008 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
13.4% alcohol; 50% whole bunches used. Attractive dark cherry fruit nose is ripe but pure with mineral and spice notes. The palate is dense and quite firm with a spicy, chocolatey twist to the ripe dark cherry and plum fruit. Nice spicy tannic structure. Rich, but still elegant. 92/100 (£24.99)

Veranda Pinot Noir Millerandage 2007 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
100% whole bunches and 50% new oak. This was inspired by the fact that some plants in Quinel had millerandage (chicken and eggs – small and large berries in the same bunch), which was almost like a clonal difference. These were harvested separately, and just 10 barrels or so are made of this each year. 13.8% alcohol. Dark coloured. Lovely ripe dark cherry and raspberry fruit nose. The palate is ripe, dense, lush and expressive with rich but complex fruit. The dark cherry fruit is complemented by a hint of meatiness, and is relatively elegant with good definition. 94/100 (£34.99)

Veranda Pinot Noir Millerandage2008 Bío Bío Valley, Chile
13.9% alcohol. Expressive, open, perfumed nose: plum pie, strawberry and cherry notes. The palate is spicy with nice expressive red berry and cherry fruit, as well as hints of apple and some spicy tannins. More red berry style than the 2007. 91/100 (£34.99)

Veranda Pinot Noir Santa Rosa 2010 (Cask sample)
This is the first crop from the new Santa Rosa vineyard. It’s mainly from the small block with 1 × 1m spacing, with one bunch per plant at most. Just one barrel made. It’s still doing malolactic. Very fresh and quite expressive with lovely cherry fruit. Even though this is a new barrel, the oak is totally integrated. Very promising.


Part 1, Dos Andes: Veranda and Agustinos, Bio Bio
Part 2, Viña Leyda, Leyda
Part 3, Viña Ventisquero, Apalta
Part 4, Viña Tabalí, Limarí
Part 5, Casas del Bosque, Casablanca
Part 6, Viña Falernia/Mayu, Elqui

See also:

Visiting Chile's wine regions (a series from a visit in 2008)

Published 01/11  
Wines tasted 12/10

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