Viña Ventisquero: Wines from Chile’s New Wine Frontiers

Felipe Toso, Winemaker

Felipe Toso, Winemaker

Viña Ventisquero is one of Chile’s top wineries leading the search for new terroirs in the Atacama Desert and elsewhere. We recently sat down with Felipe Toso, Ventisquero’s lead winemaker, to taste several new releases at Washington DC’s Rural Society restaurant. The wines were simply put outstanding, and the food was, too. Congratulations to Felipe and to Louis Goral, Rural Society’s chef de cuisine. We review the current releases of Ventisquero from the Atacama and elsewhere below. For more on Ventisquero, read our 2013 article titled Wines of Chile: New Releases from Viña Ventisquero and our Report #21 The Chilean Wine Revolution.

The Huascos River Valley is located 200 km north of Elquí. The 13 hectare vineyard shown here lies about 150’ above sea level and 45 km east of the cold Pacific with very stony, very old red clay and limestone soils about one foot in depth. Vines have to suffer harsh winds, cool temperatures, and the persistent fog named Camanchada. High natural stress contributes to very low yields, about 700g/vine.

ART Ventisquero Atacama copyThe impressive Ventisquero wines are made by head winemaker Felipe Toso with the assistance of consulting winemaker John Duval, Australia’s famed Penfolds winemaker.

Importer: San Francisco Wine Exchange.

Ventisquero 2014 White Wine No. 1 Chardonnay Valle de Huasco Atacama 92 Showing pear and orchard fruit on the nose, the palate is almost viscuous with a pear concentrate character. A blend of three vintages, 88% from 2014, 7% from 2013, and 5% from 2015. Half the wine is matured in used French oak and half in stainless steel barrels. Made from self-rooted Chardonnay vines, half whole bunch. Neither filtered nor clarified.

Ventisquero 2015 Tara Pinot Noir Valle de Huasco Atacama 92  An outstanding Chilean Pinot Noir, showing pure red cherry scents and flavors and a suave mouth feel. An all natural wine made from the 777 clone, mostly self-rooted, hand harvested, open tank fermented with ambient yeasts, no sulphur added with 10-15 percent whole cluster, and matured 23 months in old barrels.

Ventisquero 2015 Grey GCM Apalta Colchagua Valley 91  Medium dark red. The GCM is a very fresh, pure wine that is neither filtered nor clarified. It shows red fruit with loamy earth and garrique notes on a smooth, richly flavored palate. A blend of 50% Garnacha, 25% Carmenere, and 25% Mataro from a rocky, single vineyard block in Apalta’s Roblería Vineyard with terraced clay and granite soils. The wines pends about 6 months in fine-grained old 300 L barriques.

Ventisquero 2011 Vertice Apalta Colchagua Valley 92  With spicy, savory aromas of Carmenere, this Carmenere/Syrah blend is firmly structured and shows mineral like attributes resulting from the cool vintage and high altitude of the vineyard site. Lush, dark fruit shows on the palate. A blend of 53% Carmenere and 47% Syrah sourced from two parcels of the Viñedo la Roblería near the top of the hill at about 470m altitude in the Valle de Apalta. The wine spend 20 months in barrel, 40% new.

Picanha

Picanha at Rural Society

Ventisquero 2011 Pangea Apalta 93  Showing a rich, spicy bouquet, the Pangea Syrah reveals blackberry fruit and violets with tar and chocolate notes. It’s an elegant, flavorful wine with firm, ripe tannins and excellent natural acidity. Made from 4 vineyard parcels totaling 10 hectares on the deep red clay and fractured granite soils of Apalta. Matured 22 months in 50% new French oak barriques. Unfiltered and unfined. The wine paired beautifully with the superb picanha (a Brazilian cut of beef) cooked on an Argentine style parrilla at the Rural Society.

Ventisquero 2011 Enclave Maipo Valley 94  This is just the second vintage of this superb Cabernet Sauvignon (86%) blend. It reveals dark currant, violets and a hint of cedar. Silky and elegant on a densely flavored, superbly structured palate. Gorgeous. A Cabernet Sauvignon from rented vineyards in the highest point of Pirque (750m). A blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Carmenere, and 3% Cabernet Franc matured in French oak barriques, 50% new, for 18 months.

June 2016

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