The wines of Emiliana, an organic pioneer in Chile, with Alvaro Espinoza

chile

The wines of Emiliana, an organic pioneer in Chile, with Alvaro Espinoza

alvaro espinoza

Lunch at the fab Camino with Alvaro Espinoza of Chilean organic pioneer Emiliana is a good way to spend Friday afternoon, especially after a busy and somewhat complex week.

‘We are a mid-sized wine company,’ says Alvaro. He’s talking about Chile, though, and mid-sized here means 860 hectares of vineyards in four different valleys, and spread over five properties. Alvaro started here in 2000. He quickly converted the properties to organics, and then biodynamics. The first biodynamic wine was released in 2003. ‘I’m organic and biodynamic because I was a horticulturist,’ says Alvaro. ‘Organic vegetables always tasted better, and we moved to organics primarily for quality issues.’

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Initially, the influence for the shift to biodynamics came from California, and the late Alan York, who was a valuable consultant for Alvaro. ‘The organization of the farm is as a closed system of production, which is our goal,’ he says. ‘Conventional viticulture is a high-input system and at the end you standardize the the conditions of the soil and lose the character and quality of the place.’

He adds: ‘The fruit from our own farms shows more individuality because we cannot change the conditions of the place. We learn to produce food without input from outside, just with the resources we have on the property.’

With regard to Coyam, the top red wine, he thinks that blends are the way to go if you want to express place. ‘Blended wines are more related to place than varietal wines,’ says Alvaro. Coyam is an expression of the best wines he makes from the Los Robles estate in Colchagua, 150 km south of Santiago, and it’s a blend with a good slug of Carmenere in it.

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Emiliana, with its 860 hectares, is probably the world’s largest producer of organic, and possibly also biodynamically farmed vines. It’s great to see these viticultural systems applied on a large scale like this.

THE WINES

Emiliana Novas Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014 San Antonio, Chile
Complex, weighty and lively with rich tropical fruit and some citrus notes, as well as a hint of grassiness. Pretty pear and citrus fruit with nice balance. 89/100

Emiliana Novas Gran Reserva Viognier 2014 Casablanca, Chile
This is fabulous. Very pretty with ripe varietal characters. Pure and exotic with stone fruits and apricot, as well as subtle bitter nutty notes. Beautifully focused, fine and delicious. 93/100

Emiliana Signos de Origen Chardonnay/Marsanne/Viognier/Roussanne 2013 Casablanca, Chile
One-third in Nomblot concrete eggs, two-thirds in barrel. This is powerful, rich and textured with sweet pear, spice and peach characters. It’s bold with a lovely texture, and a hint of apricot exoticism. Sweetly fruited and rich. 90/100

Emiliana Coyam 2001 Colchagua, Chile
Dense blackcurrant fruit is really ripe with some spiciness and a bit of earth. Lush and textural with a hint of mint in the background. Very smooth and satisfying in a ripe style. 92/100

Emiliana Coyam 2004 Colchagua, Chile
Savoury and a bit earthy with some spicy notes. There’s a leather, herb and earth quality here. Dense and a bit bkaed, but tasty enough. 89/100

Emiliana Coyam 2007 Colchagua, Chile
Fresh blackcurrant and a bit of herby character, with some earthy notes. Sleek and ripe with sweet black fruits, and hints of charcoal and tar. Very smooth and quite fresh. 92/100

Emiliana Coyam 2011 Colchagua, Chile
Fresh raspberry and blackcurrant fruit with a hint of rubber under the sweet fruit. There’s maybe a touch of reduction here? The palate is sweetly fruited with nice poise and balance and some rich blackberries and blackcurant. Youthful but generous. 91/100

Emiliana Coyam 2012 Colchagua, Chile
Sweet, pure and well defined with ripe black cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Nice richness and smoothness with lush, seductive fruit. 92/100

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