The Matetic family enters the world of wine in Chile’s
Despite its nearly 500 years of winemaking heritage, Chile’s wine industry is fresh, young, and boldly evolving in today’s competitive markets. The evolution of Chile’s modern wine industry is well documented, and abundant press space has been given to its new wave of small boutique wineries that have appeared over the past two decades. Even though the Chilean wine business can trace its roots back more than 500 years, this grouping of smallish, state-of-the-art wineries and facilities, has raised Chile’s reputation and wine prowess to a level alongside a number of the classic wine producing countries around the globe.
When Chile’s turbulent political climate was finally relaxed sometime during the late 1970’s, many well heeled families and individuals began investing in sections of the country that were barely counted among wine producing areas. A number of expatriate Europeans had settled around the Maipo Valley and produced a number of generally plebeian wines that was good for Chile’s economy, but were rarely used for export Younger Chileans saw a rare opportunity for agro-investment in a particularly upscale business and the rush to establish new wave boutique wineries and vineyards was on.
It is a fact that many of these newer wineries prospered due to the fact they were mostly well-financed, and were almost immediately accepted by the international wine community for their excellence and quality standards. In some cases, recognition of this manner takes many, many decades to become a reality, but not in the case of Chile’s new wave of boutiques.
The fact that French varietals had been introduced to Chile during the 1800’s was a huge help, and pinpointed some of the growing areas that could conceivably prosper in the future. Since the Chilean wine producing region runs from Elqui in the North to the Bío Bío Valley in he south, a istance of over 930 miles, there were ample locations to choose from for prospective growers and vintners.
During the past decade and a half, there is ven more ttention given to micro limatization (selecting a suitable site by aking in a number of specific conditions; emperature, winds, humidity, specific soils, tc.), in much the ame manner as California’s coastal wine industry. In fact, the two oastlines have much in common, and many Chilean winemakers have spent time working t California wineries to earn the individual eculiarities of growing grapes in close roximity to the ocean.
The future of the Chilean wine industry looks quite bright as many small wineries continue to find homes for their products in top quality international restaurants and wine stores. Pricing still favors the Chilean exports, but the gap seems to be closing as the reputation and demand for small Chilean wineries continues to increase. Where this wine push will all go is still anybody’s guess at this point, but more and more Chilean wineries continue to enter the international market each year.
As long as the country’s overall quality continues to increase, this trend should be around for at least the foreseeable future.
Winemaker: Paula Cardenas Saez
As with a number of Chileanborn winemakers, Paula Cardenas Saez possesses a varied international resume. A graduate as an agricultural engineer and enologist from the Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Chile, Saez has worked in the varied confines of New Zealand (Matua Valley Wines), Stellenbosch, South Africa (Thelema Mountain Vineyards), the well respected Chateau Loudenne in Bordeaux, as well as three notable Chilean wineries (Viña Carmen, Viña Errazuris and the highly regarded William Cole Vineyards of the Casablanca Valley. Her unique work experience fits perfectly with Viña Matetic Winery’s rigid formula for producing its premier biodynamic wines.
The Matetics decided to make their new winery a biodynamic entity, a fact that bears explanation.
The Viña Matetic Winery is just barely a decade old (it was started in 1999) and came into existence when the Matetic Family decided to diversify its businesses and invest in a winery operation. Jorge Matetic (Don Jorge in Chile) had interests in sheep, cattle, farming and tourist development before entering the wine business. When he and his family finally made their decision, they forged forward in a most remarkable manner. The Matetics decided to make their new winery a biodynamic entity, a fact that bears explanation. One of a small handful of biodynamic wineries, Viña Matetic must follow rigid guidelines before its fruit can be certified biodynamic. Simply put, biodynamic farming (relative to grape growing) insures that the principles and practices of biodynamics are based on a spiritual/practical philosophy, called anthroposophy, which includes understanding the ecological, the energetic, and the spiritual in nature. As a practical method of farming, biodynamics embodies the ideal of ever-increasing ecological self-sufficiency just as with modern agroecology, but also includes ethical-spiritual considerations. This type of viticulture views the farm as a cohesive, interconnected living system. Involved are the cycles of the moon, exact temperature and humidity control and a number of manure enhancing practices that makes biodynamic farming a good deal more expensive than regular farming. When making his decision to go biodynamic, Jorge Matetic noted that a number of the greatest vineyards and wineries had already converted to biodynamic farming. The likes of famed Napa winery Grgich Hills has taken the step along side such notables as Burgundy’s Comtes Lafon, Leflaive and perhaps the most revered wine producer on the planet, Domaine de la Romanée Conti. In Alsace there is Domaine Weinbach, Deiss and Zind-Humbrecht. In the Rhône it is Chapoutier. In the Loire Valley there is Coulée de la Serrant, whose owner, Nicolas Joly, could be considered the John the Baptist of the movement. Around the globe, there is tremendous credence to the biodynamic movement. For Viña Matetic, all ninety acres of their vineyards are biodynamic. With a total production of fewer than 3,500 cases, Viña Matetic is tiny by world standards. Nevertheless, its wines have won major awards on the international wine scene and should continue to do so for many years to come. ‘We chose this path because we love nature and the outdoors,” Matetic was recently quoted as explaining. ‘This system involves harnessing the forces of nature to act with positive energy. For example, if a bug is bad for crops, find another bug to eat it. When you treat the plants that are naturally good this is evidenced in The vineyard, because when our neighbors are affected by frost we are not. Moreover, this form of production can get better prices.” Jorge Matetic has built a marvelous, modern wine facility that overlooks the slopes of the Rosario Valley near the Pacific Ocean. Its modernistic design and architectural stances fits in well with its selective type of farming and winemaking. The EQ on the label is short for equilibrium, the commitment Viña Matetic has with nature in creating a harmony between the soil, the climate and the vines. The three varietals featured with this International Series selection are all estate grown in the San Antonio Valley appellation. All the EQ Pinot Noir is hillside fruit that originates in six different sectors, not far from the winery itself. The vines are extremely low production and the tannins produced allow for near perfect maturation, so necessary for a truly fine Pinot Noir. The EQ Syrah has its origin in three separate districts, all located on the flat valley land of Rosario, which is deep and alluvial. Average yield is less than 2 tons per acre, making it among the lowest flat land production anywhere. Finally, the EQ Sauvignon Blanc is also produced from only mountainside vines that contain a high amount of clay/sand texture as well as a sub layer of decomposed granitic rock, rich in quartz. This combination is great for drainage and the root systems and allows the Sauvignon Blanc vines to flourish and produce exceptional fruit. If ever there was a completely thought out winery and vineyards, Viña Matetic is most certainly the operation that comes to mind. Helped most assuredly by the entire new wave Chilean wine movement, Viña Matetic will continue to gain in statue and prestige in the following years. It is our pleasure to have introduced this marvelous winery for your enjoyment.