Friends Pablo Solis and Ronald Vera were born into traditional farming and winemaking in Guarilihue, Itata. Their fathers saw the boom and then bust of the wine market. The shamefully low price of grapes sees them still making and selling bulk wine, but the lack of a rural labour force and low price of bulk wine obliged their fathers to rely on glyphosate and chemical fertilisers. The two are among the scant few of the next generation to stay on the farm. They work for their fathers, but have bravely embarked on the rebellious project of converting parcels back to organics and of bottling their own wines. They are the first generation in their respective families to put wine to bottle. These small batch wines, to which the boys each contribute grapes, are made naturally and traditionally. Small amounts of So2 are used. Both fathers are somewhere between highly skeptical, sometimes critical, and hopefully open. Using traditional techniques, intuition and naturally keen palates, they co-ferment their grapes to make wines of incredible poise, depth with a serious acid lines. The boys both contribute grapes to the Cinsault and Semillon, Ronald's portion is fully organic and Pablo's is in transition, meaning zero herbicides, and chemical fertilizers are currently at a minimum and will soon be completely eliminated. Pablo uses guano and cow manure.
2020 El Gran Viejo Semillón (amber)
Farming: 40% of the grapes come from Pablo's farm, 30% from Ronald's and 30% from traditional grower and neighbour, Abelardo. Pablo manages Abelardo's Semillon, this parcel is on organic transition. Vine age is between 40 and 80 years. Pablo and Abelardo's vines are NE facing granitic clay-loams, and Ronald's SE facing granitic sandy-loam.
Pablo and Ronald's parcels are now organically managed, they have eliminated all chemical fertilisers and herbicides, applying instead guano and cow manure, and horse-ploughing between rows and manually hoeing under vine for weed supression. Semillon vines are randomly dispersed amongst the Cinsault and Moscatel vines. Semillon, that used to be abundant in Itata, was all but completetly eliminated decades ago to be replaced by Moscatel or Cinsault. The vines that remain are rare and almost always old plants dotted amongst traditional sites, lonely vines that survuved the cultrual shift towards more hardy varietals.
Vinification: 40 days on skins, open fermented in (upright) barriques, pressed to barrel for six months. 11.3 alc, So2 at crushing and then none there after: 37ppm total, 2ppm free. The wine went thru malolactic fermentation in barrel.
El Gran viejo, my old man, the label depicts the handing down of the vineyard from grandfather to father to son Pablo. A lean, just-ripe ripe Semillon showing plenty of stone-fruits, florals and citrus to tame its herbaceousness. Opens wonderfully over several days, showing more generosity and structure from its time on skins.