Chilean wine

Viña Falernia Syrah Reserva 2010, Elqui Valley, Chile

Drunk September 2015 @ home

Viña Falernia syrah reserva 2010

The winery

Viña Falernia was founded in 1998 by Aldo Olivier Gramola. The Aldo Olivier’s family was originally from a small village in northern Italy (Trentino Region) called Dimaro. In 1951 Aldo’s father (Don Lino) decided to leave the country to move to Chile in May 1951 taking advantage of a development deal between Italy and Chile. The family arrived in the Coquimbo / La Serena region.

Aldo got married and he changed from La Serena to a small village located in Elqui Valley, called El Tambo, part of the Vicuña common.  The Falernia project was born in 1995 after he met his cousin Giorgio Flessati, an oenologist working in the Trentino region of northern Italy. 

Viña Falernia is located in the Elqui Valley between La Serena and Vicuña, 520 km (323 miles) to the north of Santiago and it is at present Chile’s northernmost wine estate. 

The soils in Falernia vineyards are composed partly of rubble which has eroded from the Andes mountains and deposited by glaciers and wind, and partly of alluvial sand and silt deposited by the river. While stony, gravely soils are regarded as poor for most crops, their excellent drainage qualities make them perfect for wine growing. The climate is semi-arid (average annual rainfall is 80-100 mm) making drip irrigation indispensable during the spring and summer months. The vineyards benefit from currents of cold air which descend from the high mountains at night., causing a dramatic contrast between day and night time temperatures during the ripening season, from 27-32°C (80.6-89.6°F) to 10-12°C (50-53.6°F). 

Viña Falernia comprises around 320 hectares of vineyard (800 acres), plus 100 hectares (250 acres) with long term contracts. The vineyards are located in several sites of the Elqui Valley, with very different climate conditions.

The first site, Titon vineyard, lies at an altitude of 350 meters (1070 feet), 18 km away from the ocean (11 miles). Day temperature there reach a maximum of 24/ 25º C (74ºF) during the summer and 9- 10ºC (48 /50ºF) at night time; In the morning there is often fog until 10/11 am. The actual size is 125 ha (312 acres) under vines.

The second site is just around the winery at the end of Puclaro lake (an artificial dam built by the government in 2003 for supporting the irrigation in the valley and guarantee water supply of the cities of Coquimbo and La Serena as well). Altitude is 515 mts (1570 feet). Climate conditions are very different, it is drier than Titon, warmer and with few foggy mornings (due to the lake, that changed the microclimate). 

The third site is close to Vicuña, where there is a young planting called “Pedregal”, 30º South /70 45’F at 560 Mts. (or 1680 feet): 40 has (100 acres) planted on the old bed of the Elqui River with a very stoney soil perfectly suited to Syrah, Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyards is in transition to organic certification by IMO SWITZERLAND.

The fourth site is an old vineyard called “Huanta” or “Guanta” that is a rocky valley at an altitude between 1700 and 2070 meters (5185- 6320 feet), one of the highest vineyards in the world. The climate is very dry with a big difference between day and night temperatures.

Huanta Vineyard

These geographical features have kept at bay the phylloxera, and aphid which devastated most of the world’s vineyards a century ago, as well as downy mildew mould. The fact that pests and diseases such as these are kept at bay makes the use of chemical sprays and insecticides to protect the vines and grapes largely unnecessary.

Jamie Good visit to Falernia video

The wine

Hand picked grapes from two vineyards in the Elqui Valley, Titon and Huanta with very different soil and microclimates. Using cold maceration prior to fermentation on the skins in stainless steel tanks. After malolactic fermentation, 50% is aged in small French oak barrels for 6 months.

FermentedGrape.com tasting notes

A full bodied powerful wine, with big fruit and notable pepper and spice on the nose and on the palate. There is a hint of dark chocolate on the finish giving a slight bitterness with mint elements. 

For the price this cool climate Syrah is very good particularly with a barbecue. Be sure to serve the wine at the right temperature 18 degrees or so.

Kingston Family Vineyards Lucero Syrah 2011, Casablanca Valley, Chile

Drunk june 2015 (purchased M&S)

The Winery

In the early 1900's Carl John Kingston, packed up his belongings and made the months-long journey from Central Mine, Michigan to Chile in search of copper and gold. In 1906 he joined the Cerro de Pasco Mining Company as an engineer, and traveled throughout South America. Although he never struck gold, C.J. unearthed a large dairy and cattle ranch 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean in the western hills of Chile's Casablanca Valley. With his new wife Caroline Los Kamp, C.J. settled in the casa patronal on "The Farm."

Carl John Kingston

After attending college in the United States, C.J. and Caroline's oldest son, John, returned to Chile to manage The Farm. As family lore goes, John graduated from Harvard on a Wednesday, married Janet Wilson on a Thursday, and set sail for Chile on Friday. They settled in Casablanca next to the old corral, and raised five children on The Farm in the 40s and 50s.

With the 1990s came another generation of Kingstons and new possibilities for The Farm. While in graduate school at Stanford University, Courtney Kingston wrote a business plan that had little to do with cattle and traditional farming: She wanted to plant a vineyard in the far western hills of Casablanca. Planting their first grapevines in 1998, the Kingstons bet on pinot noir and syrah in a valley known exclusively for white wines. Inspired by California vineyard leaders like David Hirsch and Gary Pisoni, they planted a vineyard up in the hills and gambled on the future of cool climate reds. In 2003, they made 400 cases of pinot noir and syrah under their own Kingston Family label to showcase the potential of coastal Chile for world-class wines.

 

The Kingston vineyards, first planted in 1998 and gradually expanded over the past dozen years, now consists of ~350 acres located within the century-old Kingston family farm in Chile's Casablanca Valley. In many ways, the Casablanca Valley is analogous to California's Central Coast, but somewhat colder.The vineyard lies about 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by rolling forested hills.

The vineyard has a  cooler location than most of Casablanca, with temperatures often measuring 10°F cooler than at Veramonte (the neighbours on the opposite/eastern end of our valley). Due to cooling effects from the Pacific's icy Humboldt Current, the climate is mild and the growing season is long.

Today, Kingston Family Vineyards is still going strong and producing some excellent coastal style wines. The Pinot Noir and Syrah are planted in the hills, where the sun exposure and drainage is more favorable to red grapes, while the Sauvignon Blanc grows in the lower, cooler sections of the vineyard. The soil in the hills contains a lot of decomposed granite; lower down it is sandy clay.  Yields are very low: typically 2 to 3 tons per acre—a necessity just to ripen the crop. The last of the syrah is harvested in late May, the equivalent of November in Europe.

90% of Kingston grapes are sold to some of Chile's best winemakers, including Ignacio Recabarren (Concha y Toro), Aurelio Montes (Montes), and Rafael Urrejola (Undurraga).

The wine

This was a lovely spicy syrah exhibiting balanced cool climate charaterisitics with no hint of green or high acidity caused by under ripening. The wine had a great nose of berries, earth and spices, the palate was strong blackberry & raspberry with bags of fine tannin as well as vanilla notes with a certain elegance you might find in a Burgundy. Highly recommended!

Tarapaca Gran Reserva 2010, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile

Drunk October 2013

The winery

This is a top class, oak aged Cabernet Sauvignon from Viña Tarapacá in the Maipo Valley. Its founder, Don Francisco de Rojas, travelled to France in 1874 and returned laden with vines from Bordeaux and Burgundy, planting them in the beautiful countryside around his classic colonial style house. In 1992 new owners invested considerably in the vineyards and cellar - adding a new humidity and temperature controlled cellar, with 4,000 barrels for maturing the wines.

The wine

The Tarapaca is a deep red in the glass, aromas are coffee, anise, spice. The wine is smooth and full bodied without being too alcoholic which sometimes is a feature of wines from Maipo, well balanced with a moderate tannin level beautifully balanced by acid. The finish is long with great complexity. Very good indeed.

VON SIEBENTHAL Parcela #7 Bordeaux style blend

The Von Siebenthal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 55%, Merlot 30% and Cabernet Franc 15% from the semi desert area of Aconcagua Valley in Chile proved a hit. The winery was set up by wine lover, Mauro von Siebenthal, a Swiss lawyer, in 1998.

Plenty of interest and depth here. A big fruity hit but layers of flavour accompany this as the finish goes on and on. This may be a Bordeaux style blend but it has its own specific character.

One I will be buying again.

Falernia Carmenere Reserva Elqui Valley 2007 Chile

Drunk July 2012

falernia front.jpg

The winery

Viña Falernia was founded in 1998 by Aldo Olivier Gramola. The Aldo Olivier’s family was originally from a small village in northern Italy (Trentino Region) called Dimaro. In 1951 Aldo’s father (Don Lino) decided to leave the country to move to Chile in May 1951 taking advantage of a development deal between Italy and Chile. The family arrived in the Coquimbo / La Serena region.

Aldo got married and he changed from La Serena to a small village located in Elqui Valley, called El Tambo, part of the Vicuña common.  The Falernia project was born in 1995 after he met his cousin Giorgio Flessati, an oenologist working in the Trentino region of northern Italy. 

Screen Shot 2012-07-22 at 07.59.09.png

Viña Falernia is located in the Elqui Valley between La Serena and Vicuña, 520 km (323 miles) to the north of Santiago and it is at present Chile’s northernmost wine estate. 

The soils in Falernia vineyards are composed partly of rubble which has eroded from the Andes mountains and deposited by glaciers and wind, and partly of alluvial sand and silt deposited by the river. While stony, gravely soils are regarded as poor for most crops, their excellent drainage qualities make them perfect for wine growing. The climate is semi-arid (average annual rainfall is 80-100 mm) making drip irrigation indispensable during the spring and summer months. The vineyards benefit from currents of cold air which descend from the high mountains at night., causing a dramatic contrast between day and night time temperatures during the ripening season, from 27-32°C (80.6-89.6°F) to 10-12°C (50-53.6°F). 

falernia vineyard.jpg
Screen Shot 2012-07-22 at 08.00.52.png

The wine

The Falernia Carmenere Reserve 2007 grapes are from vineyards located in the Vicuña area called “Rio” at an elevation of 1700 feet and were hand-picked very late in the growing season (beginning of June). 

What is interesting is that the grapes were partially dried in a style similar to Italian Amarone, which concentrates and intensifies the flavours. The wine was aged in American oak for 6 months. 

This is an incredible velvety wine with lots and lots of layers of flavour. Balanced tannins, fruit and acidity make it especially rewarding with red meat. Due to the drying process of the grapes, it shares many characteristics in common with Amarone which is one of my favourite styles of wine. Falernia also produce an excellent Shiraz and Shiraz/Carmenere reserve blend. Highly recommended.