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Student trip to Chile

When Santa Rita Estates joined Viña Errazuriz in 2016 as a Supporter of the Institute of Masters of Wine, it made sense for the two companies to explore the possibility of organising a visit to Chile for MW students. The first study visit duly took place in November 2016 and I had the privilege of leading the group.

The group comprised 14 students from 10 different countries, different parts of the wine business and at various stages of the MW Study Programme. It was felt important that the make-up of the group reflected the international composition of the Institute and also the varied skills of both existing and potential MWs. None of the group had visited Chile before, apart from Marco de Martino, an MW student whose family are, of course, one of Chile’s foremost wine producers.

The trip lasted a week and Viña Errazuriz looked after the group for the first half of the trip, during which we were based in Santiago. We visited Arboleda (Aconcagua Costa), Don Maximiano Estate and Seña (Aconcagua), and Viñedo Chadwick (Maipo). The focus was on the vineyards because Errazuriz have gone to so much effort to identify the areas best suited to the styles of wines they are after. The tastings naturally led to discussion about the winemaking and the evolution of wine styles. The highlight for many was a long and fascinating tasting with Francisco Baettig, Errazuriz Chief Winemaker, who was wonderfully open about the company’s direction. The tasting featured the Las Pizarras Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, two wines of great finesse that epitomise the more refined style that characterises the modern Errazuriz range. Special thanks are due to Maria Luisa Errazuriz who coordinated the whole visit on behalf of the company and who was very generous both with her time and that of all the other members of the Errazuriz team that we met.

For the second half of the week, we were in the hands of Santa Rita Estates. Visits were made to their extensive vineyards in Leyda, their vast and most recent vineyard in Pumanque and, of course, Alto-Jahuel in Maipo, home to Casa Real, where we were fortunate enough to spend a night. Santa Rita’s investment in vineyards (over 200 ha in Leyda, 600 ha in Pumanque, 400 ha in Alto-Jahuel, to name just those we visited) makes a massive statement about Chile’s confidence in its wine industry’s future. Talk here was as much about the business and economics of wine as it was about viticulture and winemaking; indeed it was generally agreed that on a future visit, the business side should be given a larger slice of the programme. The visit also included a night by the Pacific in beautiful Pichilemu, an opportunity to appreciate why the ocean (freezing!) creates such cooling breezes. Thanks again to Maria Cecilia Pino for arranging the visit and accompanying us for the Santa Rita leg; and to Andres Lavados (CEO), Andres Ilabaca (Technical Director) and so many others who joined us at different stages.

The visit ended with a presentation kindly organised by Wines of Chile and presented by one of Chile’s top sommeliers on the state of the Chilean wine market, followed by a tasting of wines from regions not visited on the trip.

There were two notable aspects of the trip. Firstly, the astonishing generosity of our hosts, with time, wine, people and expense – it exceeded all expectations and reflected the high regard in which the IMW is held. Secondly, the calibre and professionalism of the students. There is no doubt they left a strong and positive impression with our hosts and are already a credit to the Institute.

It is hoped that this student trip to Chile will become an annual event.

Richard Bampfield MW

MW students who attended the trip:
Allison Bonnett
Julien Boulard Sarka Duskova
Alessandra Fedi
Julie Frankland
Jessica Green
Marco de Martino
Fernando Mora Torrijo
Moritz Nikolaus Lueke
Tom Parker
Adam Porter
Clare Tooley
Guido Walter
Lee Winston

Trentodoc MW trip

On November 10, 12 Masters of Wine from eight different countries met up in Italy to discover the sparkling wines of Trentino, known as Trento DOC.

The history of sparkling wine in Trentino is credited to Giulio Ferrari a native of region who attended the Instituto Agrario at San Michele all’Adige from 1895-1897. Ferrari continued his studies in both Germany and France spending time in Champagne. He decided to return to Trentino and produce sparkling wines in the same style, using the metodo classic (traditional method). In 1902, the winery was opened and 3000 bottles of sparkling wine produced. The high quality of these wines was recognised in 1906, when Ferrari won a gold medal the International Exposition in Milan. In 1952, Ferrari sold the winery to the Lunelli family who still own the company today.

There is one DOC for sparkling wine called Trento DOC (still wines from the region are classified as Trentino DOC). All Trento DOC is made by the traditional method and is classified as either Non-vintage (15months), Vintage (Millesimato- 24months) or Riserva (extra maturation, 36months). In all cases, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Meunier are allowed alone or together in any amount. Trento DOC Rosé or Bianco can be made as a Non-vintage, Millesimato or Riserva.

Although Trentino is large region with 10,000ha of vines, grapes for the production of Trento DOC are sourced from less 8% of the region’s vineyards. The area has a warm, continental climate, influenced by breezes from Lago di Garda to the west and cool wind from the northern alps. Over 60% of the vineyards are located at higher elevations in the mountains and foothills with average being 600metres a significant difference when comparing this region to Franciacorta.

Chardonnay is the dominant variety, occupying 29% of total plantings, the largest in Italy. Second is Pinot Nero, which accounts for less than 5% of total plantings, used mainly for colour and structure for Rosé and Riserva. Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc) accounts for less than 1% of plantings and is used in small amounts with Chardonnay. Pinot Meunier is rarely used, but gaining interest.

There are 45 producers of Trento DOC one third of which are Cantina’s (co-operatives). Around 10 million bottles are produced annually. It is the top selling sparkling wine within Italy with over 85% sold domestically and 15% exported. As we tasted first hand, Trento DOC’s quality reputation, ability to age, combined reasonable price points have contributed to recent increases in export volume.

As the norm with MW trips, our itinerary was jammed packed with tastings, technical lectures, winery visits and wine-pairing meals at Michelin-starred restaurants. Included was:

  • Lecture of Cavit’s PICA project (Integrated Agricultural Platform)
  • Private tasting of a selection of 115 wines from Trento DOC’s 45 producers
  • An escorted tour of the high-altitude vineyards of the Cembra Valley by Professor Tomas Roman
  • Seminar by Professor Fulvio Mattivi about the Mapping of Volatile Compounds found in the high-altitude wines of Trento DOC
  • Tasting of old Trento DOC vintages from various producers as far back as 1993
  • A vineyard visit to understand organic viticulture for Trento DOC
  • A tasting to understanding the role of yeasts in the second fermentation
  • Tasting of base wines and different vintages, styles at various wineries included Cavit, Cesarini Sforza, Opera Winery, Maso Martis, Methius, Rotari and Ferrari
  • Private tour of MUSE the new museum designed by architect Renzo Piano
  • Private Dinner in MUSE with two producers, San Lorenzo (highly awarded red wines from Trentino) and Ferrari
  • Wine pairing meals at Maso Franch, Le Due Spade and Locanda Margon

Extensive detail about the lectures, visits and tasting can be found within the trip report, to be published soon.

Our visit was a resounding success due to the planning and attention to detail from the Instituto Trento DOC, a Supporter of the IMW.

The IMW and trip participants would like to thank Sabrina Schench, Manager Instituto Trento DOC and Enrico Zanoni President, the Foundazione Mach as well as all the producers for their generosity, time and for sharing their wines and knowledge

Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW