Caliterra – A New Generation of Wines from Chile

Peter Morrell has a one to one tasting with Rodrigo Zamorano, the dynamic Chief Winemaker at the innovative Caliterra vineyard in Chile

Caliterra was established in 1996 as a partnership between the Robert G. Mondavi family and Viña Errázuriz, who wanted to realise their shared dream of producing high quality wines that reflect the essence of Chilean nature, terroir and fruit.

The Colchagua Valley was chosen as the home of the Caliterra Estate. Located in the heart of the valley it features a number of different soil types which can support the production of Merlot, Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec grapes.

There has since been planting on both south and north facing hillsides to create grapes with different characteristics. One of the Caliterra’s most notable points is the fact that sustainability and environmental friendliness are an essential part of the production process. In addition to wine making the valley also supports an abundance of wildlife, particularly birds.

So it was with interest that I tasted the wines from this ecologically sound vineyard. I started with the Edición Limitada ‘B’ 2012. This is a wine blended in the style of a Bordeaux, hence the ‘B’. It offered an intense nose of dark cherries and raspberries which continued on the palate with additional herbal hints. The smooth, well structured tannins left a very pleasant finish.

Next up was the Edición Limitada ‘M’ 2012 blended in the Mediterranean style. Whereas the first wine was Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot dominant this wine was driven by Syrah and Carignan. Fresh summer fruits like blackberries in the bouquet were followed by very lively spice and pepper tones in the mouth which left a vibrant finish.

The third wine was a single varietal, the Tributo Single Vineyard Carménère. This very old grape variety, named after the the French word for crimson, was lost to Europe during the Phylloxera vine plague in 1867. The grape was rediscovered in Chile in the 1990s and the country is now the world’s largest grower.

The deep purple colour is the clue to its intensity. Dark stone fruit in the aroma soon developed into cloves and black pepper on the palate with smooth tannins giving it a lovely mouthfeel.

It’s sibling is the Tributo Single Vineyard Malbec 2013 my next tasting. This wine had a fresh fruity nose with strong hints of strawberries and spring flowers. This soon morphed into notes of tobacco, cinnamon and other exotic spices. The tannins were soft and the acidity gave a pleasantly astringent finish.

My tasting was being guided by Caliterra’s Chief Winemaker,Rodrigo Zamorano, who is highly enthusiastic both about sustainability and making innovative new styles of wine. This was particularly evident with the last wine I taste,d the DSTNTO.

This wine is made by putting a blend of whole grapes in the barrel and fermenting them for about a month. This technique, called carbonic maceration, creates a wine that is deeply coloured, intensely aromatic, fresh and fruity. The 2014 vintage was made from Malbec, Carignan and Petit Verdot grapes. It had a powerful, fruity bouquet and a fresh, uplifting taste in the mouth leading to a bright finish. The quality of the 2015 version of this wine has been lifted even further by the addition of Syrah.

It had been an excellent introduction to both Chilean wine and to Caliterra and I had been impressed with Rodrigo’s desire to create wines that suit the modern palate.

All of these wines are the perfect match for casseroles, lamb, beef, game and strong cheeses.

Caliterra wines are available from many good wine merchants in the UK. The Tributo and DSTNTO wines have an RRP of £12.70 and the Edición Limitada wines an RRP of £16.55

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