CHILEAN WINES ON TOUR – NETHERLANDS SEPTEMBER 2013 (4)
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I absolutely had to stop at the UNDURRAGA table, for many reasons… I was very impressed by my visit at the winery, all fantastic people with a great passion with what they do. The most impressive part at that time was not the entry level range (Undurraga, Aliwen… very popular in the Netherlands thanks to the great job of their Off Trade importer Albert Heijn, market leader in the Dutch supermarket world) but the higher ranges. I was really interested by the pioneer’s work of a young and talented winemaker called Rafael Urrejola, together with the great Chilean terroir consultant Pedro Parra and viticulturist Robert Pinto, expert in organic/biodynamic vineyards. I tasted there the first vintages of a new range called “T.H.”, standing for TERROIR HUNTER. Now, years later, that young winemaker Rafael Urrejola became chief-winemaker of the Undurraga Company and is doing very well! It was a great pleasure to meet and greet him again during the Dutch Chilean Wines on Tour 2013.
I tasted again the whole TERROIR HUNTER range and the pleasure only got bigger and bigger. The age of the vineyards have been increasing, the terroir effect is even more noticeable. I loved the pure, mineral, fresh and juicy TERROIR HUNTER SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012, coming from three different terroirs. All three very good wines, very well made. I have to confess that the Casablanca terroir was for me the less fascinating, I am definitely a fan of the great terroirs of LEYDA (shallow loamy clay on sedimentary ‘crack’ clay and sedimentary calcareous subsoil) and LO ABARCA (shallow loamy clay on calcareous and weathered granite subsoil)… Fabulous wines!
On the red wine side, three TERROIR HUNTER SYRAH wines from Vintage 2011. All three wines gave me a great feeling. I am just fed up of the overripe, overdone, jammy/raisiny syrah caricatures you can find sometimes in Chile among the big brands. A good Chilean syrah needs cooler climate to preserve a lovely freshness and good balance. The differences between the three wines were definitely noticeable, but all were quite delicious. The lesser terroir for my personal taste (but not so far under the other two) was Maipo. My favourite wines came from, you will guess, LEYDA (shallow loamy clay on sedimentary ‘crack’ clay and a subsoil of weathered granite with a high minerality) and LIMARÍ (colluvial soil with a lot of angular stones, on ancient alluvial terrace with calcareous – calcium carbonate rich – components). Absolutely gorgeous, fresh, juicy, mineral, fruity and highly drinkable.
Not tasted this time, but I am sure that I would also be positively impressed, the Chardonnay from Limarí, the Riesling from Lo Abarca, the Pinot Noir from West Casablanca and one from Leyda, the Carignan from Maule and the Cabernet Sauvignon from Alto Maipo. This whole range is offering a nice and affordable wine discovery trip into some of the most interesting and promising terroirs of Chile.
It is simply incredible that those wines are still not imported yet in the Netherlands! Actually a real shame, surely because of the reason behind the hesitations to buy it. Not the quality, not the price, but the brand name seems to be the problem.
UNDURRAGA is associated with Albert Heijn and importers are not really warm to work for a range which is not distributed by the Off Trade importer. Some are afraid to import it for the On Trade market, to work hard to make it a great success and see it hijacked by Albert Heijn if it sells well. There is of course a piece of truth behind this, but looking at other Chilean companies working with Albert Heijn, it might not be really necessary a problem. See for example EMILIANA selling to the Netherlands quite similar wines under different labels to different Off Trade segments: Adobe (Albert Heijn, also selling the Novas range and Coyam), Eco Balance (SuperUnie), Ycaro (Natuurwinkel) en Elemental (Ekoplaza).
So, please dear Dutch importers, grab your ass and your chance before it’s too late! Just go for it!
Please read also the next article.