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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Wednesday, 25 August 2010 16:43

Iconic Wineries of Chile

Chile has been increasing its wine production and exports through bulk and value-for-money wines, but a few producers are using modern technology and beautiful architecture to build state-of-the-art, world-class wineries, producing wines of iconic status, pictures  Subhash Arora who visited Montes, Lapostolle, Errazuriz and Pérez Cruz recently and showcases the functional and architectural beauty of these landmark wineries.

All these iconic wineries are well integrated with the surroundings and are functionally designed to handle the grapes gently and use the gravity controlled flow of liquid without any pumping to help produce the best possible wine from the area. Viña Montes and Casa Lapostolle in the Apalta sector of Colchagua Valley are within 5 kms of each other and were built within a year of each other in 2004 and 2005 respectively. The latter is owned by the Marnier-Lapostolle family, owners of the Grand Marnier Liqueur Company in France.

Viña Errazuriz
Aconcagua Valley

View of the new iconic winery

The latest addition to the architecturally beautiful wineries designed to produce iconic wines is owned by Eduardo Chadwick of Viña Errazuriz founded in 1870 by Don Maximiano in Aconcagua Valley. It is so recent that it has not even been officially opened yet. The winery was barely completed earlier this year and was about to be launched officially when it had to be postponed due to the unfortunate earthquake that shook Chile in February this year.

Winery from a distance

As a mark of respect to the founder, it is named as the Don Maximiano Winery- becoming popular already as the Icon Winery, the latest addition to the necklace being strung with modern and beautifully constructed state-of-the art world class wineries of Chile. It is one of the most stunning examples of beautiful architecture in winery construction. Although the formal launch has been postponed to the first week of November, barriques are already being used for ageing their top end wines.

Built to make the flagship wines of the group owned by Eduardo Chadwick who owns several other businesses including a highly successful coke bottling operation, the winery has a capacity of 350,000 liters. Currently 16,000 cases of icon wines are being produced. With the opening of the new winery, the production will go up to 30,000 cases.

Tasting the wines

Ten wooden tanks have been imported from France. The winery is trying to use sustainable techniques. The winery is designed at various floor levels in such a way that no pumping is required and only gravitational method is used to transfer the juices.

Delhi based importer Ace Beveragez is distributing Errazuriz wines in India. Chadwick also owns Seña, Caliterra and Arboleda wineries whose super premium wines are bein imported by FineWinesnMore, Mumbai.

For an earlier related article click

Fermentation tanks Inside the winery on one floor Two levels to transfer wine to barriques thru gravity

Viña Montes
Apalta Sector, Colchagua Valley

View of the winery

One of the key founder partners, Douglas Murray died a month ago but his spirits lives on in their iconic winery in the Apalta Sector where they make their top ended wines like Montes Alpha M, and Montes Folly and Purple Angel. The façade and approach to the winery was far from impressive due to the repair work going on to take care of the damage caused due to earthquake but once you enter the winery you see the Angels guarding the winery and you-especially when you pass by the huge life-size sculpture of an Angel, late Douglas Murray had picked up from his trips abroad.

A firm believer in Angels, he and his three partners have been known to believe in Feng Shui. They had hired the services of a lady consultant Sylvia Galleguillos to insure that all the basic elements such as water, metal, earth, and wood, were incorporated into the design and positioned in adherence to Feng Shui philosophy to optimize harmony and positive energy in the winery. As Dennis, son of late Douglas Murray explained to me, ‘the partners were looking for a place very close to the foothills where our vineyards are planted. She did her study and found out that the heart of the energy was not at the foothills but at a point where the current winery is located and where the water fountain has been installed is the center of energy according to her.

Constructed with an investment of $6.5 million and capacity for 1.5 million liters, one enters the winery by walking over small pools of water at the end of which a walkway leading to the second floor basin. This point is the exact geometric center of the winery and a skylight was installed to supposedly connect to infinity, the universe. ‘All of the energy is right there,’ Dennis explains, informing me that ‘it was built under the scrutinizing eyes of the architect Samuel Caro who worked in collaboration with Sylvia Galleguillos .’ She went around with a stick in her hand until she found the right spot. The wall overlooking the barrel room are painting red, considered desirable for energy source for the wine maturing in the barrels.

It is not the first winery where the barriques are kept in a room where the Gregorian music is being played 18 hours a day, but not many in Chile are known to provide the divine and soothing music to help wines mature in serene condition. There is the belief here that wines age better in the barrel with soft and pleasing music playing.

The barrels used for fermentation are also 10,000 liter capacity wooden tanks; nine out of the ten installed are imported from France while the tenth one is from Chile. There is a unique elevator that contains a stainless steel holding tank. This system allows wine to be transferred throughout the winery without any type of pump but by simply the raising and lowering the tank-elevator.  Punching is done by machines in the winery.

Wine Tasting in the winery

Despite recession, sales this year are expected to be higher by 15%, believes Dennis Murray while tasting 14 wines including the iconic wines. Interestingly, the price of Purple Angel- a Carmenere based red wine has been kept almost half of the other iconic wines. ‘People still find it difficult to believe that Carmenere based wines are age-worthy. Flooring is made from cement to avoid contamination. Terroir has been studied thoroughly by digging machines into 10 parts in a hectare to improve the quality of the vineyards.

The company encourages wine tourism and visit to vineyard is made through a ride through the vineyards to the mountain facing the winery. There is also a small restaurant catering to the requirement of the tourists, though smaller than another one outside the winery.

Montes label was first introduced by Sansula in the early nineties and was the fist Chilean label in India.

For a related article, visit

Dennis Murray in front of the winery Feng-Shui fountain in the winery Vineyards and Winery from the hillside owned by Montes

Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta
WM-Jacque Begarie since 2003

Guest House

Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle, great grand daughter of the founder Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle of Grand Marnier is actively involved in the Chilean wineries and is perhaps responsible to keep this new revolutionary winery operational since 2006 in an absolutely immaculate condition. She is actively involved in blending and viticulture. They produce 180,000 cases of wine; the iconic wine Apalta which was introduced in 1997 is limited to a maximum of 5980 cases- actually only 4500 cases were produced in ’06 and 4900 in ’07 although the target is to take the production up to 10,000 cases. 

Grape Reception Room

This winery is also 100% gravity-fed, spread on five levels, three of which are deep inside the hillside to provide a natural cool temperature environment for cellaring and ageing. This vertical design (similar to the Icon Winery at Errazuriz)  allows the wine to flow naturally downward during every stage of the production, eliminating the need to pump, which is believed to adversely affect the subtle flavours of the wine.

Grapes are hand-harvested and brought to the highest level of the winery where they are individually hand de-stemmed. They are then carried in a portable vessel to each of the 21 wooden tanks-very similar to those in Errazuriz and Montes (perhaps they are from the same French manufacturer). The Lapostolle has a wine library and storage cellar in the basement where one can find all the old vintages of its wines. Its very modern and appears to be inspired by a blockbuster movie from the Bollywood.

Tasting: Although it is primarily a red wine making company, the two whites tasted- Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay Cuvee were simply outstanding. Casa Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon were also delicious but it was Cuvee Alexandere Merlot where the special class of Lapostolle showed, with Cabernet not far behind.

View of Steps going down from the ground floor

Clos Apalta, the top wine of the Casa selling for around $75-80 in retail in the US, made  with 61% Carmenere, 24% cabernet sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot was a perfect ten! It was a very harmonious wine with rather high alcohol content (15%) but the alcohol was integrated so well that it presented no problems in the flavours. Extremely complex wine that dances on the palate and leaves an unforgettable impression is also an example of how the problem of greening of Carmenere has been successfully solved by producers in Chile.

Casa Lapostolle wines are being distributed in India through Moet e Hennessey.

Along with Perez Cruz reviewed in an earlier issue, a visit to any or all of these wineries may not only be an eye opener but also an opener for many a top quality of wines ‘Made in Chile’ and all that is produced in Chile is not bulk and cheap but some great stuff!!

This was the concluding part of the visit to Chilean Valley of the Dolls last month- editor

Tasting of Casa, Cuvee and Apalta Vessel to carry destemmed grapes to the tank View of the Winery



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