Saturday, December 18, 2010


After stopping at Veramonte, getting quite lost on backcountry roads infested with potholes, shooing betles the size of silver dollars out of the open windows of our car, and wandering down a dirt road, we happened upon Emiliana. Of course, there is a much easier approach straight from Highway 68 (a large sign points directly to the front entrance, which makes a much better initial impression). This was quite a lucky chance encounter: Emiliana is the only certified 100% organic vineyard in all of Chile and is partially biodynamic as well.

I asked the extremely knowledgeable man who helped us whether he thinks there is a noticeable difference in the vineyards due to organic and biodynamic practices. His answer: “well, look around. Look at the vineyards. What do you think?” The vineyards are beautifully healthy, with vibrant yellow, orange, and pink flowers acting as cover crops between the rows of vines. Alpacas and peacocks greeted us with stares as we pulled into the lot. The visitors’ center is elegant and welcoming, with a large outdoor table as well as ample indoor seating from which to enjoy your tasting flights. Chocolate and cheese tastings should not be missed here… everything is delicious, organic, locally produced, and paired with precision to the wines.

Here’s a little background on Emiliana: the company was founded in 1986 under the name Bodegas y Viñedos Santa Emiliana. During the next decade Santa Emiliana developed vineyards in Casablanca, Maipo, Cachapoal, Colchagua, and Bío- Bío. In 1998 The company initiated a project to create a fully organic web of vineyards across Chile with biodynamic practices stressed. This project gave rise to the Emiliana Orgánico brand, which is now supported by over 3800 acres of organically farmed land. Emiliana is now the organic part of Concha y Toro, distinguished from the Santa Emiliana wines by their organic standing.

The Casablanca vineyards are dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Marsanne, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Soils of sand and sandy loam layered over gravel are well-drained, and the valley’s temperature differential between night and day is large, creating the perfect environment for slow ripening and good acidity. These plants are on rootstock due to the presence of nematodes, but no other significant problems plague the vines.

Here are the wines, cheeses, and chocolates we tried:

2009 Novas Sauvignon Blanc

Pale straw yellow in color. Interesting herbal and grassy notes, particularly chives, stand out in the aromas. Hints of grapefruit, lemon, and a slight chili-type presence add to the complexity.

Paired with an organic goat cheese infused with chives to complement the herbaceous notes.

2008 Novas Chardonnay

Light gold. Oak and butter pour out of the glass… this is for those who appreciate a big Chard. A nicely intertwined floral, peachy note is exhibited due to the 21% Marsanne and supported with an almost oily texture and richness from 16% Viognier. Could use a touch more acidity to cut through the richness.

Paired with an organic goat cheese infused with olives… the bitterness contrasts the richness of the wine nicely.

2008 Novas Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon

Lots of jammy berries in this one, but a healthy dose of acidity balances them out perfectly. This wine towers over Indomita’s version. A medium finish follows.

Paired with organic goat cheese with oregano and a lemon-infused chocolate. Delicious.

2007 Coyam

“Coyam” can be interpreted as “Chilean oak.” The oak trees completely surround the biodynamic vineyard from which the grapes for Coyam are sourced. This is one of the two 100% biodynamic wines produced by Emiliana. This Bordeaux-inspired blend gets its acidity from Mourvedre, its structure and elegance from Petit Verdot, its exotic fruit and spice from Carmenere, its violet notes from Syrah, its aggressive nature from Cabernet, and its velvety tannin finish from Merlot. I’m not sure if all of that is correct, but I certainly tasted all the aforementioned qualities… this is a VERY complex wine. I liked it so much I took a bottle with me.

Paired with meriquen (a kind of pepper)goat cheese. The spice of the pepper combined with the cinnamon and black pepper of the wine work in harmony.

2008 Reserva Pinot Noir

8 months in new French oak give this Pinot its spicy character. On top of that lie layers of herbs, red cherries, and black pepper. Very expressive.

Paired with chocolate with clove essence. Very powerful and very tasty.

2009 Reserva Cabernet

Again a herbal note is easily detected in this wine. Rich plums, dark berries, and ripe tannins finish it off.

Paired with basil chocolate. The basil brings out the herbal qualities and frames them beautifully.

2008 Winemaker’s Selection Syrah

Aged for 12 months in 80% French and 20% American oak. A powerful Syrah with fewer floral notes than is desirable in my opinion, but voted 5th Best Syrah of the World by Syrah do Mundo.

Paired with oregano-infused chocolate. I felt the chocolate was better than the wine!

To arrange a visit or for more information, visit Emiliana’s website.

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