Francisco Baettig, of Errazuriz, is a thoughtful, insightful winemaker. Like many Chilean winemakers, he has been thinking quite a bit about how to make his wines fresher and more interesting, and these two new wines are the latest stage in this journey.
His boss, Eduardo Chadwick wanted him to produce two new icon wines, but Francisco didn’t want to go in this direction – in his view, there were already enough ‘icon’ wines. Instead, he convinced Eduardo to allow him to make wines that expressed a special place – certain sites in Coastal Aconcagua. ‘Let’s work on the place,’ says Francisco.
His chosen sites were close to the coast where there are outcrops of schist. Here there are slopes: at the bottom, the schist is covered with a relatively thick layer of soil; at the top, there’s virtually no soil at all, and these parcels (so far he has identified three to work with) give very precise, quite mineral wines that are properly dry, without that sweet fruit taste that is common in many Chilean wines.
Generally, Francisco is taking all his wines in a direction of earlier picking. A group of like minded winemakers, including Marcelo Papa, Marcelo Retamal and Francisco have been meeting every week for the last couple of years to compare notes and develop a project they can take to Wines of Chile along these lines. This year, Francisco picked everything within the range of potential alcohols of 13.3-13.8.
Both of these wines were bottled in July. They are both lovely, but both will be a bit too expensive when they are released next year (the price is not set, but is likely to be around US$50 for the Chardonnay and US$75 for the Pinot). Francisco would like them to be cheaper: this is the first stage in this project, and he’d like to release these as the ‘Premier Cru’ wines, and at some later stage release the ‘Grand Cru’ wines from the really special terroirs (but these may take time to identify).
For the Pinot Noir, Francisco has been assisted by a well known Burgundy consultant (he isn’t allowed to make the name public). ‘I wasn’t happy with our Pinots at all,’ he reveals. ‘Finally I think we are getting something interesting.’
Errazuriz ‘Las Pizzaras’ Chardonnay 2014 Aconcagua Costa, Chile
13% alcohol. 7.5 g/litre TA, pH 3.1, 240 cases made. Lively, flinty, mineral nose showing bright citrus fruit. Very pure and linear with a lovely dry finish. Zesty, pure and concentrated with lovely presence and no noticeable oak. 94/100
Errazuriz ‘Las Pizzaras’ Pinot Noir 2014 Aconcagua Costa, Chile
13.5% alcohol, pH 3.35, 6.1 g/l TA. This is 20% whole cluster and spends 14 months in barrel. For 2015 he has some concrete eggs and troconic concrete fermenters. Lovely bright, floral, vivid re and black cherry fruit with a subtle sanguine, bloody character that’s typical of schist. It also has freshness and a chalky edge to the tannins. Pure and fruit driven but with some seriousness. 93/100
We also tried the less expensive wines from Aconcagua Costa (£15 in the UK), which are already available.
Errazuriz Chardonnay 2014 Aconcagua Costa, Chile
13.5% alcohol, pH 3.2. Lively and focused with nice grapefruit and some sweet pineapple. Citrussy and pure with nice freshness and brightness, together with a bit of pithiness. 90/100
Errazuriz Pinot Noir 2013 Aconcagua Costa, Chile
Fresh with nice bright cherry and raspberry fruit, and some nice spicy structure. Rich and plummy with depth, and hints of rubber and spice. 89/100
Errazuriz Pinot Noir 2014 Aconcagua Costa, Chile
A warmer vintage. Quite rich with a hint of mint. Lively, spicy raspberry and black cherry fruit with vibrancy and a savoury twist. 88/100