Day two of the Chile trip was spent in the Aconcagua, with Errazuriz. We began at the relatively new 230 hectare (of planted vines) Aconcagua Costa property, just 12 km from the Pacific. Here they have planted 250 hectares. Initially they began with Sauvignon Blanc (planting in 2005), but then realised that the climate (quite cool) and metamorphic soils (including quite a bit of schist) were perfect for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Now there are 72 hectares of Pinot and 41 hectares of Chardonnay, plus 97 ha of Sauvignon and 12 ha of Syrah.
Francisco Baettig and viticulturist Carlos Carrasco have been busy at work dividing the 230 hectares up into small plots. With the help of terroir specialist Francoise Vannie-Petit from Burgundy, they did an extensive survey of the site, and the result is more than 100 plots. Of these, they’ve selected out the best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sites for inclusion in a new high-end pair of wines, Las Pizarras.
The wines coming from this site really impress. I’m particularly impressed by the work they have done with Pinot Noir. ‘It has been a long journey in terms of learning,’ says Francisco. ‘Today I do almost no racking. In the beginning I made a few mistakes because we can have a bit of reduction. So after fermentation I decant the heavy solids for a week. I clean it from the heavy lees and send it to barrel a bit cleaner, and from there I don’t need to rack any more. In the past I had to rack because it got a bit dirty.’ There are other changes, too. ‘I have been picking earlier, we manage the wine in a more gentle way, and there is less extraction than in the past. 2013 is the first time we achieved a more refined Pinot.’
Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Aconcagua, Chile
There’s a bit of lees work here and Francisco Baettig tries to play down the more obvious green characters. With 2017 there’ll be a small barrel component, but this 2016 is just stainless steel. Some of the fruit is machine picked. Lovely freshness and intensity here with grapefruit freshness and some quince and passionfruit richness. There’s just a hint of green herbiness. Attractive and balanced with lovely weight of fruit. 90/100
Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay 2015 Aconcagua, Chile
13% alcohol. A warmer vintage, picked early beginning in mid-February. No new oak here, and just partial malolactic (no inoculation). Some toasty, creamy, nutty richness as well as some meal and spice. There’s a citrus core on the palate with good acidity (pH 3.1). Has some precision here but also some richness. Nice acidity keeps things focused. 91/100
Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir 2015 Aconcagua, Chile
Very floral red cherry and berry fruits nose. Lovely purity with some black cherry, too. The palate is fresh and textural with lovely purity and balance. There’s a nice ferrous quality to this too: spice, blood and iron. Very fine and expressive with lovely purity to the fruit. Fine cherries and raspberries. 93/100
Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Syrah 2014 Aconcagua, Chile
Just 1300 cases. Peppery, floral nose with black cherries and blackberries. There are hints of mint, meat and roast coffee. The palate is sleek and ripe with sweet black fruits, some pepper, and a salty iron edge. Lovely savoury and sweet notes meshing together. Ripe and alluring with lovely meatiness. Very fine. 92/100
Errazuriz Las Pizarras Pinot Noir 2014 Aconcagua, Chile
20% whole cluster, 50% new oak. Sappy, floral cherry and herb nose is really beguiling. On the palate there is savoury, spicy, cedary complexity alongside the sweet cherry and plum fruit. Lovely expressive fruit with some savoury grippiness. There’s some substance here with good acidity alongside the spicy, vivid cherry and plum fruit. Has density and potential for further development. 94/100
Errazuriz Las Pizarras Pinot Noir 2015 Aconcagua, Chile
15% whole cluster, and a bit less new oak (30%). Lovely finesse to this wine. It has some spicy density, and a bit of grip, but also fine, expressive black cherries and raspberries. There’s freshness and precision but also some spicy warmth. Taut and complex with fine spiciness and great balance between the fruit and structural components. Haunting floral perfume. 95/100
Errazuriz Las Pizarras Chardonnay 2014 Aconcagua, Chile
13% alcohol. Very expressive with toast, spice and minerals. This has restrained citrus, white peach and pineapple fruits with some structure and spiciness. Some mealy, spicy notes, too. Complex and intense with potential for development. Combines richness and freshness really well. 93/100
Errazuriz Las Pizarras Chardonnay 2015 Aconcagua, Chile
Very fine and linear with lovely spiciness. Lemony and pure with great precision to the fruit. It has lovely finesse and purity. Nuts and mealy savouriness add interest, but the real drive here is the linear citrus fruit. Real finesse and intensity with potential for a long life. Vivid and detailed. 95/100
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com