Five years ago I had lunch with the winemaker at Kalfu, a close to the Pacific Ocean Chilean producer, who believes that the terroir is the most important choice as where to plant grapes. At that time, Chile had undergone a viticultural transformation. High technology coupled with innovative winemakers who were willing to take risks, paid big dividends.
Thanks to that revolution, today, Chilean wines of high quality are sold at affordable prices. Winemaker Alejandro Galaz , of Vina Ventisquero, was ahead of the curve.
Chile is an isolated wine region, protected by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes to the east. The isolated conditions with its environmentally protected land are ideal for consistent varietals year after year. Climate change has not affected this region, which is nearly unheard of in other wine regions of the world.
This isolated region includes Leyda Valley, where these two bottles are from. If you haven’t been, the Leyda Valley is only four miles from the Pacific Ocean, close to the Maipo River. The valley has lots of morning fog and sea breezes that cool the vineyards.
Nearby is the Colchagua Valley, a hilly region near the ocean.
The Casablanca Valley is not close to the sea, hence, more like your typical vineyard where the varietals ripen slowly.
My favorite area is the Huasco Valley, which is situated in the worlds ‘driest desert.’ The vineyards in the valley deal with overly hot days, followed by cool nights. Located only fifteen miles from the ocean, the Huasco Valley is well known for its salty soil. Wines from this valley are unique.
The two wines I sampled are sustainable. In fact, Vina Ventisquero was awarded the first of its kind of certification as the only winery in Chile to have all of its vineyards certified 100% sustainable by Wines of Chile.
2017 Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir
Leyda Valley (Chile)
Winemaker Alejandro Galaz
Aroma: raspberry, vanilla and cherry
Dry with medium acid. Forest berries with medium tannins and body. Complex, yet balanced. Chalky, with a spicy aftertaste. Earthy notes dominate the oaky vanilla undertones.
$18 a bottle
2018 Kalfu Kuda Sauvignon Blanc
Winemaker Alejandro Galaz
Tropical aromas pineapple and lychee.
Dry with a wonderful minerality of fizzy grapefruit, lime, pear, quince and stone.
Undertones of green olive, white pepper and grass balance this medium-bodied, acidic saline wine.
$16 a bottle
Galaz is known as the winemaker who specializes in cool climate wines. He says he is always striving to produce wines that are a sincere expression of elegance, distinction and subtlety of the grape. He reminds us that producing cool climate wines is a challenge. Grapes are handpicked in the morning, where the best grapes are selected for a fourteen hour maceration. After fermentation, the grapes are aged on lees for three months followed by battonage.
If you can find these wines, they are both worth seeking out.