Cover Story | 2017  Aug - Sept 


Chile Wine Trip Part 2 - The Reform Is Going On

智 利 酒 莊 之 行 Part 2 - 釀 造 未 來 的 大 師 們

BIODYNAMICS is an Attitude

SEÑA deserved its fame of most recognized Chilean wine globally while the Berlin Tasting was a legend to many wine gurus. On the sixth day of the journey, we finally came to Viña SEÑA, Aconcagua Valley. Interestingly, the first thing that impressed me was not aromas exuded by any premium wine, but the smell of farmyard and natural animal excrement. 

One may not notify SEÑA was a biodynamic wine until they visited the winery. Viña SEÑA is basically a close ecosystem, where clear water flowing from the Andes, cattle, sheep and horses and a variety of creatures find all their needs here, and all output they give, including their excretions, are actually a feedback to the system.


Eduardo González, who takes care of everything about biodynamics in Viña SEÑA, showed me the , tiny hills piled up by their feces, and demonstrated how to use different natural substances including horns, cow dung to produce different types of fertilizers. He also explained the basic idea of biodynamic which works in a way similar to what a religion does. For consumers, the belief is optional but the taste of the wine is crucial.

The elegance of SEÑA is a contrary to the roughness impression given by common natural wines. Raúl Baumann, Head Viticultor of SEÑA, gave me three vintages of SEÑA, claiming that 2009 representing the instincts of SEÑA – with a suitable degree days, a higher proportion of Carmenere which lead to overt aromas of tobacco, cinnamon, and cedar; 2014 is the first year to add 11 % Malbec, in which remarkable floral notes are founded and texture is rather rounded. Many people have similar myths about the flavors that biodynamics bring to the wine. Yet Raúl reminded us that biodynamic is not a winemaking technique that leads to a certain style of wine, but an attitude that pay concern for nature.




Robert Parker once said, “if I were awarding an Oscar for finest perfomance by a winery, von Siebenthal would be my winner.”

If SEÑA is a blockbuster representing premium Chilean wine family, Viña von Siebenthal, operated by Mauro von Siebenthal, is sort of a boutique winery in the same Aconcagua Valley that reminiscent of the garagistes from Bordeaux, as he spares no expense in making his favorite wines, by lowering the yield and extracting everything to the extreme. It comes out with tremendous intensity and endless finish, which coincides with Parker's palate.

Mauro is a retired lawyer from Switzerland yet advocating the traditional Bordeaux philosophy. His intense style is probably a resultant of terroir and his emphasis on extended ageing. Given enough maturation, it allows tannins and other elements to interact and develop a beautiful tensions between those rich elements. As a result, you can’t find any young von Siebenthal on the market within the last several vintages.

The loose restrictions in Chile give Mauro plenty of freedom to produce what he loves. For example, his 100% Viognier Riomistico and 100% Petit Verdot Toknar are really rare with unique personality which are impossible to copy. I spotted an array of cult aromas like Arabian bark and mimosa in Riomistico, and the Toknar is characterized by Indian spices, black cardamom, its sweet, mature mid-palate and lingering floral, mineral finish. It is not made to please everyone, but it is always impressive.



Vineyards Give Way TO ECONOMICS

"Chilean wine industry has changed very fast in these decades." On the way to Valdivieso Sparkling Wine Museum, Susana of Brandabout talked about this. The Museum we are heading to is actually a living evidence. 


Valdivieso is famous in Chile because it is the first sparkling wine producer ever in whole South America. Caballo Loco Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru, for instance, is made of 100% Pinot Noir by traditional Champagne method which leads to excellent complexity and elegance, as well as weight and durability. That is a bottle comparable to Champagne from Reims!


Cristian Urra, Valdivieso winemaker told me," The winery was founded by Alberto Valdivieso in 1879, while Santiago was surrounded by vineyards. The development of the city, however, has gradually pushed them away from downtown to the outskirts Maipo which is lower in cost. "This ‘museum’ is actually the original site of Valdivieso winery. It is still in operation although the vineyard has long been moved to the coastal area.” 


Cristian took me to walk around the old building, seeing some of the antique winemaking tools, production lines and the old underground cellar for reserve wine.

Exploring Without BOUNDARIES

Northern Rhone and Australia are often recognized as the benchmark of exceptional Syrah, but the new generation of Chile is doing extremely well, not only proving themselves as the a sophisticated Shiraz making, but also pave the way to fellow winemakers.

I arrived at Viña Ventisquero, Colchagua in the afternoon. The winemaker Felipe Tosso and his wife drove me a short journey across the mountain, explaining the versatile soils from gravel to red clay - the former is perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon, and the latter being one of the reasons why Shiraz outstands among rivals. 


Of course there are other reasons - Fortipe Tosso is one of Chile's top winemakers who won the title of the best Chilean winemaker in 2012, while his partner is John Duval, the famous Australian winemaker who creates Penfolds Grange.


The two Shiraz-based wines co-worked by the two masters - Vertice and Pangea amazed me. The former is imparted with pleasant forest and graphite tones, while the premium Pangea is characterized by ripe black fruit and robust tannins which is deem to be further aged for over 10 years.

Another series of experimental work “Tara” is even more surprising. There are one white two reds in the series, all grapes are from the Atacama desert. In one of the driest terrains in the world, they make the wines in the most natural way (hand harvest, press by human foot, all natural yeast, no antioxidant, no clarification), so that everything is a direct reflection of the terroir. This unusual Chardonnay with bright minerality and compact structure is depicting the desolate desert.



Gone With The WIND

Chile's various wine regions were originally defined from the north to south, but in recent years a new concept was advocated according to the proximity to the Pacific Ocean(Costa), the Andes mountain(Andes) and anywhere in between Andes and costal mountain range(Entre Cordilleras).

When you find more and more trucks passing by, you know you are not far from the Pacific coast. Besides the container terminals connecting the world, there is a popular resort in San Antonio similar to Stanley in Hong Kong. The recently emerging cool climate areas Leyda is located nearby.

Founded in 2008, Viña Ventolera is located 200m above sea level in San Juan, Leyda. The windmill stands in the middle of the plateau turns the strong wind into energy, supplying the power needs of the winery.

Ventolera is actually the Spanish name of sea breeze blowing in the Leyda Valley. It blows along the valley every day from 12 noon to 4 pm, soothing the hot sunny air. At the same time, the cold Humbodlt Current from the Pacific imposes strong influence to Leyda, prompting the delicacy and acidity of the grapes.

Besides the environmental factors, people who got the know-how is the key to make the region a famous cool climate winemaking region in Chile. In 2011 Stefano Gandolini, a talented winemaker who was named one of the five most influential people in contemporary Chilean wine industry, joined Ventolera, aiming to create Chile's best cool climate wines.

The Cerro Alegre Sauvignon Blanc 2016 is an atypical work. Incredible complex aroma of tomato leaves intermixed with minerals, smoky and leesy tones. Razorsharp Acidity, great elegance and mega-long aftertaste is the perfect finale of my fantastic trip.


要說在國際酒壇中名氣最響的智利葡萄酒,SEÑA應該當之無愧。年輕的酒迷們都對那場仿似小說情節的Berlin Tasting趨之若鶩。在旅程的第六天,我們也終於來到了位於Aconcagua Valley,傳說中的Viña SEÑA。有趣的是,當我親身來到Viña SEÑA,第一印象並非撲鼻而來的酒香,而是空氣中隱隱一陣天然動物排泄物的氣味。


SEÑA倒是嚐過幾次,卻未有特別留意她是以生物動力方式釀造的一瓶酒。換言之,在Viña SEÑA範圍內就是一個獨立的生態圈,這裡有濫觴自安第斯山脈的清澈水源,牛、羊、馬和各種生物在這裡找到牠們所有需要,而牠們割輸出的一切,包括排泄物,對整個生態就是一種回饋。


生物動力學專家Eduardo González掌管Viña SEÑA內一切有關生物動力的事情。他帶我看了放養著那些悠閒的牛、由牠們的糞便堆積而成的小山、又示範了如何用牛角、牛糞、以及莊園內各種天然物質去製造出不同型號的肥料,解釋了如何根據日月星辰的軌跡去進行不同的工序,這些生物動力學的基本理念,對一般人來說有點像宗教,信仰與否,起碼不會比葡萄酒的味道來得重要。


SEÑA的優雅溫柔,跟印象中自然酒的粗獷感相反。首席葡萄農Raúl Baumann給我嚐了3個年份的SEÑA,並說2009年很能代表SEÑA,那年日照中等,採用Carmenere比例較高,酒中煙草、玉桂、雪松一類的香氣較為明顯;2014則加入了11%Malbec,酒中能找到一些清新花香,酒質亦偏為圓潤。生物動力學對於葡萄酒帶來甚麼樣的風味呢?不少人有類似的迷思,然而Raúl提醒了我們,生物動力種植法並非一種釀造手法,而是一種態度、一種對自然的關懷。


Robert Parker曾說過:「如果只能頒一座奧斯卡金像獎給一座酒廠,Von Siebenthal絕對是我的首選。」


若說SEÑA是大家族旗下的高端項目,同樣座落Aconcagua Valley、幾乎由Mauro一人掌管的Viña Von Siebenthal跟波爾多的車房精品酒有著很多共通點,都是酒痴不惜工本、以十換一的傑作,口感集中澎湃,彷彿有無盡的餘韻,難怪成為Robert Parker的愛酒。


Mauro是來自瑞士的退休律師,崇尚的卻是法國波爾多的釀酒哲學。或者是濃縮的風格所致,他尤其重視酒的陳年,給予足夠歲月讓單寧及其他元素慢慢磨合。所以市場上最新的von Siebenthal,最少都是4、5年前的作品。


智利這個自由的國度,給予Mauro很大的發揮空間。譬如說100%Viognier的Riomistico以及100% Petit Verdot的Toknar,都是收成極低、產量極少的罕見酒款,均具有難以複製的個性。Riomistico的阿拉伯樹皮和含羞草花的香氣;Toknar中的印度香料、黑色荳蔻的獨特氣息,成熟甜美的中段,揮之不去的花卉和礦物餘韻,未必討好每個人,但總會令人印象難忘。




「智利葡萄酒生態在近幾十年確實轉變得很快。」前往Valdivieso Sparkling Wine Museum的途中,Brandabout的Susana談起了這個話題。而擺在眼前的Valdivieso Sparkling Wine Museum,就是活生生的證據。


Valdivieso在智利非常有名,因為她是全南美第一家釀造氣酒的酒廠。譬如Caballo Loco的Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru,採傳統香檳方法以100%黑比諾釀造,造得工整優雅、香氣複雜並徐徐變化,口中的重量和持久性,跟一瓶Reims的香檳不相上下!


Valdivieso 釀酒師Cristian Urra告訴我︰「早在1879年Alberto Valdivieso就在這兒興建了這座酒廠。那個年代,聖地牙哥遍布了葡萄園,但隨著經濟發展,葡萄園逐漸向外遷移至市郊地價較便宜的Maipo等地。」眼前的這座「博物館」正是Valdivieso酒廠原址,現在仍在運作,而葡萄園早已遷往更近海岸一帶。








下午時份,我抵達Viña Ventisquero位於Colchagua的酒莊。釀酒師Felipe Tosso和伉儷載我環繞山道一覽大片南向的葡萄園,沿途解釋著土壤的多變,從礫石到紅黏土,前者適合Cabernet Sauvignon,後者則是其Shiraz能獨當一面的原因之一。


當然還有其他原因——Felipe Tosso是智利當代極為出色的釀酒師,曾獲2012年智利最佳釀酒師之名銜,而他的拍擋,即是一手創造Penfolds Grange的澳洲釀酒師John Duval。


黃昏時份,車子回到酒莊。我們就在晚霞中品試Viña Ventisquero一系列酒款,我在意的自是兩位大師合力、以Shiraz為骨幹的作品——Vertice及 Pangea。



另一實驗性頗重的Tara給人的驚喜不亞於其Shiraz。系列中三款酒,一白二紅,葡萄均採自智利北端之Atacama沙漠。在世上最乾旱的極地環境,他們以最天然的方式(人手採摘、腳踏榨汁、天然酵母、不加任何抗氧化劑、不過濾澄清) 釀造葡萄酒,一切都完美反映風土,那瓶非比尋常的Chardonnay,其礦物感及緊緻結構,彷彿向我透露著荒涼的沙漠。






2008年才成立的Ventolera酒莊,位處Leyda區San Juan大概200米高的山區。站在酒窖前空曠的高地,風涼水冷是最好的形容,而酒莊標誌之一,正是那座徐徐轉動的風車,供應著酒莊所需之能源。


Ventolera是西班牙文,正是吹拂於Leyda山谷的海風的名字,可想而知這裡的風吹得多猛。她每天12時至4時都吹襲著山谷,給陽光充足的氣候降溫;與此同時,從太平洋海岸而來稱為Humbodlt Current(洪堡寒流) 的冷流亦強烈著影響著Leyda,有利葡萄保留細膩的味道和酸度。


有風有水也要有人。2011年,被評為當代智利葡萄酒業五位最具影響力戈物之一的天才釀酒師Stefano Gandolini加盟Ventolera,矢志為其打造智利最佳的清涼氣候葡萄酒。


吸引我的Cerro Alegre Sauvignon Blanc 2016,又是一瓶非典型的作品。難以置信的複雜香氣、清新的番茄葉、夾雜酵母、礦物和煙燻的氣息和超級清脆的酸度沁人心脾,收結更是意想不到的持久。