Viñedos Emiliana is the leader in organic and biodynamic wine production in Chile. A fewmonths ago we visited the biodynamic vineyards of Emiliana in the Casablanca Valley [pictured here—Don Winkler; Fernando Pavón, Emiliana; Mike Potashnik]. Organic usually means pricey but not in the case of Emiliana’s Natura brand.
In 2003 Emiliana introduced Chile’s first biodynamic wine, the pricey, top of the line Emiliana G.However, it also produces inexpensive, organic wines for all wine enthusiasts. The Natura label is made of fruit sourced from Emiliana’s two thousand acres of certified organic and biodynamic vineyards.
The organic label is still viewed with suspicion by some consumers. After all, organic wines have almost no sulfites, which makes them easily susceptible to spoilage. Natura wines are made from organically grown grapes, meaning they are grown with no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or chemical or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. However, they do have added sulfites (albeit considerably lower than the norm) to deter spoilage.
These wines are made under the tutelage of Alvaro Espinoza, Chile’s pioneer of natural winemaking.Alvaro first became familiar with biodynamic and organic practices during a sabbatical year spent at Bonterra, California’s pre-eminent natural wine producer.Returning to Chile the large, Emiliana winery (Viñedos Emiliana) under the enlightened leadership of winery founder, José Guilisasti, hired him to develop a new line of organic and biodynamic wines.
Banfi, the US importer of Natura, recently asked us to review their wines. Having visited Emiliana’s vineyards in the Casablanca Valley last year and knowing Alvaro’s reputation for meticulous winemaking, we readily agreed.Our reviews of Emiliana’s other wines can be found in our Report # 21, The Chilean Wine Revolution.
At just $11 per bottle, Emiliana Natura wines are inexpensive, but their high average quality also makes them excellent values. The red wines are all cold-soaked prior to fermentation, and most see some oak aging.The white wines are fermented in stainless steel at low temperatures, some with lees stirring.Our favorites are the Sauvignon Blanc, the Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Syrah, but all the wines are great values.
Emiliana 2010 Natura Sauvignon Blanca Casablanca 89
This is an exceptionally tasty New World Sauvignon Blanc with just the right amount of acidity, clean citrus fruit on the nose and palate and dry minerals on the finish.It’s a flavorful, nicely balanced wine but not so precious and over-refined that one need be afraid to drink it with a week day meal.Superb!
Emiliana Natura 2010 Un-Oaked Chardonnay88
This Chardonnay offers intriguing aromas of flint, lees and tropical flowers. It has good palate weight and ripe fruit, with both tropical and orchard notes.Surprisingly complex for an un-oaked wine at this price level. It finishes long, clean and satisfying. Fermented at low temperatures in stainless steel with stirring of the lees. Quite delicious.
Emiliana 2009 Natura Gewürztraminer Rapel 87
This isn’t a spicy, tropical Gewürztraminer in the Alsatian style, but it’s very pleasant drinking nonetheless. It is a gentle wine, rather feminine and floral in character, showing honey and flowers on the nose and stonefruit on the palate.Cleanly made, this is both a good sipping wine and one that would combine nicely with Asian cuisine.Doesn’t show its 14% alcohol.
Emiliana 2009 Natura Cabernet Sauvignon Valle Central 88+
Cabernet Sauvignon represents almost half of Chile’s total vineyards, but the number of organic vineyards is still small.Emiliana uses some of these organic grapes to produce this delicious wine. . The nose has rather subtle aromas of smoke, herbs and plum.The palate is round and ripe and nicely structured with fine, firm tannins on the finish.This isn’t a knock your socks off, fermented in pricey new French oak type of Cabernet (although 20 percent of the wine is aged in oak barriques), but it is very drinkable.
Emiliana 2009 Natura Carmenere Colchagua 87
This blend of 85% Carmenere and 15% Syrah is a tasty wine best consumed with food. It has an herbal and earth character with fresh black cherry on the palate.These aromas and flavors combined with good natural acidity helps it complement many dishes.About half the wine was oak-aged.
Emiliana 2008 Natura Merlot Rapel 86+
The Natura Merlot requires food to show its best.It revealsplum and green herbs on the nose and a modestly weighted palate of boysenberry and tart plum.
Emiliana 2009 Natura Syrah Rapel 89
This bright, dark ruby organic Syrah is made from hand-picked grapes that are cold-soaked prior to fermentation. The nose shows both back raspberry and savory smoked meat aromas. Not particularly fleshy for a Syrah, it’s more lean and mineral like with firm tannins on the finish.But it’s a flavorful, nicely balanced wine that is very reasonably priced for its quality. About 20 percent of the wine is aged in French oak for six months.
Imported by Banfi Vintners, Old Brookville, NY(516) 626-9200