Chile, Viñedos Emiliana

Mar 1, 2010
2010 / March 2010

The sign in the shop says “Organic Wines” — but are they? Not likely. “Organic” laws differ from country to country, even state to state, but the basics are generally the same. To be a certified organic vineyard, grapes must be grown without pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers or bioengineering. To be a certified organic wine, it too must be made without outside additions. Thus, a wine may begin with organically grown grapes, but if the winemaker adds sulfite, as virtually all do to prevent bacterial spoilage, the wine is no longer considered organic. The bottle’s label can read “made from organically grown grapes,” but not “organic wine.” Biodynamic vineyards carry the concept of natural growing even further, using only natural products, homeopathic concepts and the moon calendar.

Antonio Bravo, the head winemaker of Viñedos Emiliana in Chile and a passionate proponent of natural growing systems, has 1,470 acres of certified organic and biodynamic vineyards and another 1,342 acres in transition. (It takes years of preparation before a vineyard is certified.) His wines are produced only from certified vineyards, making Emiliana the largest producer of estate-grown organic and biodynamic grapes in the world.

And how do wines from these vineyards taste? Emiliana’s Natura Sauvignon Blanc’s aroma is all clover and fresh-mown grass; its taste is crisp and minerally; and its finish, long and clean. The red Natura Carmenère’s scent is filled with spice and dark berries while it is big and round on the palate. Both are $11.

Among Emiliana’s Nova wines, there is the more complex Carmenère-Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Selection. It offers a deep aroma of dark berries and spice, a sturdy, round taste and a lingering aftertaste. Price: $17.

Emiliana’s Coyam blends Syrah, Merlot, Carmenère and other grapes. Ink-dark, spicy and full-bodied with great personality, it is a satisfying mouthful for $30.

Emiliana’s highest-quality wine is G, Chile’s first 100-percent biodynamic wine. A combination of Carmenère, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it is as opaque as ink, as rich as velvet, with a deep, complex aroma and taste and a finish that lives on. It is $90.

Pure wines, the way nature intended them to be.

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