Works

The simple bits
(the complex bits are in
The Long Read at the bottom of the page)

Harvest & Ferment
We make the wines in open-top fermenters. We punch the caps down by hand and today we use much less extraction and much more lignified stems in the broth during fermentation. Our tanks are conical shaped lagars made of stainless for 1900-2200 kgs. They are all custom made based upon the ancient wooden lagars of the growers we work with in the Secano. We have added two oval shaped lagars with capacity for 35oo kgs towards being able to co-ferment more in future.

We try to avoid carbonic maceration, because we think it makes for homogenized wines that speak less of place and more of winemaking. 


To work with raspon / whole stems, we often destem and then re-introduce the lignified raqui / stems into the lagar afterward. We do get our feet purple in smaller fermentations in bins generally 1-2 per parcel. The beauty of the bin is that it makes for a complete barrel. If you do something innovative you can keep it separate in that particular barrel right through until the day you need to blend with other barrels to bottle!

We pick the fruit in small parcels. Most still fit in the trailer behind our trusty pickup. We like to do two pickings of the bigger lots (Las Higueras & Truquilemu) with a larger truck being careful to separate the different sections of the farm where the fruit differs.


Elevage
Wines are barrel aged over two winters. Ploughmen farmers keep wines over one winter ie to be enjoyed the next summer and or over two winters to be enjoyed the following. They do not understand the idea of 18 months or 24 months in oak– it is foreign to them. We adopted their approach as it a much sensible than modern wine marketing’s fetish with “how many months in oak?”.

We acquire barrels previously used over two vintages each year and try and renovate about 50-60 (20-25%) of the barrels in any particular vintage. In our experience, these Mediterranean varieties do not respond well to more new oak than this. 

Malolactic fermentation occurs slowly and naturally generally after the cold winter months. It usually finishes with the warmth of the following Spring and even summer. Garage wines are naturally produced. Enzymes, magic powders and spinning simply do not fit into our way of doing things. Generally, the wines spend almost a full year in bottle before release, but in the practicality of day to day operations we tend to release the wines when stocks of the previous year’s wines run out.

Sulphites
Yes, Sulphites, a product used in the preservation of wine for millennia, are added sparingly both after malolactic fermentation finishes (generally about 9 months after harvest) and again before bottling.

Pressings
Most pressing is still manual in a small basket press, but small-scale hydraulics are beginning to be used.

Native Yeasts
Yeasts are native– working in a renovated 1840 cellar where commercial yeasts have never been used. We make a pie de cuba introducing wine from the previous years harvest to raise the alcohol some before fermentation begins spontaneously.

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The long read

It should be simple to articulate what is an inherently simple approach to winemaking, but wine is rarely simple. With so many ready-made phrases adopted in the trade it is tempting to simplify life, but alas we choose another road…

Perhaps in part due to our wine scientist partner Doc Alvaro Peña, but also because of our innate curiosity, we have always separated barrel sized permutations of the wines in the cellar. Each barrel (some wines are as small as 7-8 barrels) of each wine is different. Each is racked separately to retain whatever difference in treatment that particular bit has had from the vine right through until just before bottling when the barrels are blended for the first time.

We do not make a blend and then age it in barrels. We allow each barrel to take its own trajectory to help us understand how to work each parcel best.

Pilar Miranda

Instead we experiment. This bit gets that particular cooperage barrel and this bit gets batonage. The first free run juice goes here and the bit that stayed an extra night on the skins goes there. The bits with whole stems go in those and so on. Tasting the barrels periodically allows us to steepen our learning curve and make heaps of notes for next year. This is why we do not co-ferment as much as we might. Some barrels show well early and others seem godawful only to come round beautifully in the end.

Perverse note : when we decide to bottle and taste through the barrels for the last time, sometimes a certain barrel is simply too overbearing. It talks too loud we say, and it complicates the wine. This barrel is put aside, lost in the back of the cellar, for potential inclusion in the next bottling of our solera of odds and ends called: Perverso (Perversity).

The reason we can work in such detail is our small human scale. We pick what the neighbours can pick in a day. We ferment what we can tend to with limited hands. We are exponentially more flexible and focused because of our inherent smallness and desire to follow the fruit where it takes us.

By comparison, most new world wineries cannot think of making a wine whose grapes do not fill a truck efficiently.

Many a winemaker has found wonderful fruit only to realise that there is not enough, or that the head of buying (Jefe de la mesa de compra) will not be able to make a deal with such a farmer. When it come to grapes, they speak different languages.

This is why the many small projects in the Secano in the South of Chile in Maule and Itata and BioBio are so important to today’s trade.

Total Production 2018 : almost 5,5oo cases

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