Vina Echeverría is just about to disgorge the third vintage of its Sparkling wine made in the Traditional Method. The journey to get here, a collaborative effort between the whole family, has been 10 years in the making, “but absolutely worth it”, says Roberto Echeverría, “and we are expecting great things”.
It was in 2006 that Viña Echeverría embarked on a project to make a Traditional Method Sparkling wine, prompted by some suggestions by clients to ‘complete our portfolio’, already having a comprehensive range of reds, whites and a Sauternes style award-winning Late Harvest.
Not to be undertaken lightly, this ‘Méthode Champenoise’, one of wine’s greatest and most revered labors of love, which dates back to the 19th century, requires a lengthy process of primary and secondary fermentation, ageing, painstaking remuage and dégorgement.
It was decided to make the blend with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, paying homage to the great Champagnes of France, as well as the family’s heritage; Chardonnay providing freshness, delicacy and elegance, and Pinot Noir providing body, structure, aroma, as well as a complexity of flavours, and invaluable acidity.
Of our first vintage, 2006, we made 1000 bottles. The blend consisted of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, using estate grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes from a local grower. With time on our hands, and knowing that good wine is never rushed, we allowed the wine to rest on its lees for over 2 years in the bottle, allowing for greater depth and freshness, and with 1 year subsequent ageing. The resulting wine, though highly artisanal and slightly cloudy due to insufficient riddling, had delicious appley, bready flavours, with great structure and good complexity.
In 2008 we made a second vintage, this time 3000 bottles, using estate grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The blend consisted of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, and once again the blend was left on its lees for 2 years with 1 year’s ageing. This time we designed our own riddling rack and used updated equipment for dégorgement. The resulting wine had outstanding complexity, toasty and sophisticated, and the same apple and lemony freshness as the 2006.
In a landmark awards ceremony in 2012, presided over by top Chilean sommeliers Hector Vergara and Pascual Ibañez, it was this vintage which was to set a precedent, and took the top prize, with 92 points, amongst 50 of Chile’s most prestigious wineries, including Miguel Torres and Undurraga, not only as Best in Class but also as Best Sparkling Wine in Chile.
Which brings us round to 2015…and the 2011 vintage which we are recently disgorging. This time it’s 6000 bottles, and hopefully our experience over the past 10 years will deliver something really special. Or in the words of Dom Perignon,
“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!”
Watch this space to find out how it’s tasting….