Caliterra Online Tasting (Circle of Wine Writer) 13/09/2021

All photo credit to Caliterra

Caliterra (means “quality land” in Spanish) is a joint venture of Robert Mondavi and Errazuriz, founded in 1996. Their vision is to showcase the great terroir of the Colchagua Valley.  Caliterra estate has 264 ha of vines in three parts of the valley providing them with different terroirs. Even though they are 60 km away from the Pacific Ocean, the ocean’s influence can still be felt. With cold nights and warm days, fresh acidity can be retained and the elegance in wine is clearly demonstrated from the 6 wines that I tasted with the fellow Circle of Wine Writers presented by Caliterra’s Chief Winemaker Rodrigo Zamorano.

Zamorano says that Caliterra switched from the pursuit of “Parkerised wines” to becoming the first winery to drive sustainability in Chile and obtained the sustainability certification in December 2011. A few years later, in 2017, they were the first to receive the CarbonZero Certification.

All the 6 wines are very elegant and have beautiful freshness, plus the alcohol levels are all between 13-13.5% with only one exception (14%). When asked how they keep the alcohol level in check, Zamorano explains that they tend to do the harvest earlier (from February), probably one of the earliest in Colchagua.

One of the wines in the lineup is made of 100% Malbec. In Caliterra, 15% of the vineyard is planted with Malbec, which is an unusually high proportion for a Chilean vineyard. “Mondavi believes in Malbec,” says Zamorano, “that’s why we have a lot more of Malbec compared to other Chilean wineries.”  This 100% Malbec is also very exciting and delightful. Aged 18 months in clay amphoras from Spain, it is not the usual “South American Malbec fruit bombs” that we know of, but a very floral, subtle, and unique example. 

But the highlight of the tasting has to be the last wine we tasted, the Pétreo Carmenère 2018. It has a pronounced roasted pédro pepper note but is balanced so well with the refined dark berry aromas. Truly complex and utterly delicious. 

UK Wine Importer: Hatch Mansfield

Caliterra Official Website https://caliterra.cl/en/

Caliterra is 60 km from the Pacific Ocean. The only country in South America that doesn’t have tropical weather.

Isolated location

For Pétreo Carmenère wine –higher altitude producing fresher wine
Foothill = warmer (Cabernet Sauvignon. Carmenère) Latitude: 35 degree south with great sun exposure.
Carmenère grown in flat part of the valley. Both Petit Verdot and Carmenère love sun exposure. Colchagua – aka “valley of the light” and it is the widest valley in Chile.

Tasting notes:

Wine 1: Tributo ‘Single Vineyard’ Sauvignon Blanc 2020

100% Sauvignon Blanc

ABV: 13%/pH: 3.21/ TA: 6.58 g/l RS:1.10g/l

2020 is a good vintage. Dry. Good ripening.

Coming from granite and quartz soil making the wine with bright citrusy notes.  9% in French oak barrels giving the wine a fuller and creamy texture but still with vibrant citrusy, grapefruit skin notes with zesty acidity and abundant fruit intensity, ie peachy note on the palate. The wine fermented in barrels used native yeasts whereas those in tanks used commercial yeasts. Caliterra is planning to create its own yeasts.

W2: Dstnto 2018

34% Malbec, 31% Syrah, 15% Carignan, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Grenache

ABV: 13.5% pH:3.52 TA: 5.85 g/l RS: 1.6 g/l

Semi carbonic maceration, 50% malo, cold shock before bottling (before malo finished). Zamorano explained that if the wines are not intended for long aging, he doesn’t like to go through full malo. 2018 is one of the best vintages. The wine has pronounced red wild forest berries. Bottled in Sept 2018 it has gentle and smooth tannins and fresh acidity. Pretty delicious

Wine3 Edicion Limitada ‘M’ 2016

38% Syrah, 32%Carignan, 25% Grenache, 4% Marsanne, 1% Roussane

ABV: 13.5% pH:3.20 TA: 6.44 g/l RS: 2.15 g/l

18 months in French oak. (They used to use American oak.) Ripe strawberries, garrigue, spices. Very invigorating and has a refreshing acidity. Carignan is bought in from a grower with 100-year-old vines. 

Zamorano explains that in the vineyards, in order to retain acidity, they would connect two vines together to create shades for the vines.

Wine 4 Edicion Limitada ‘B’ 2017

54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Petit Verdot, 17% Cabernet Franc

ABV: 14% pH: 3.32 TA: 6.62 g/l RS: 1.97 g/l

Petit Verdot needs a long time to ripen. Very hard work.

2017 is a warm vintage, so they have a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Juicy and ripe cassis. Beautiful on the palate with soft and silky tannins. Very elegant but with structure.

Wine 5 Pétreo Malbec 2016

ABV: 13% pH: 3.4 TA: 6.48 g/L RS: 1.53 g/l

Malbec in amphorae from Spain, growing in the upper part (Zone 1) with southern exposure

Subtle and delicate. Violets, black berries, juicy black plums, smooth and soft on the palate. Very different. 

Wine 6 Pétreo Carmenère

ABV: 13% [H: 3.45 TA: 5.35 g/l RS: 1.6 g/l

Zamorano mentioned that Carmenère needs more micro-oxygenation (it is related to Cab Franc) Grapes are from the hillside with stony soil. Pronounced Padron peppers and stewed red pepper, with juicy blue berries.

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