Terroir, or the third leg of the table

In the world of wines, people frequently talk about terroir (teuh·waa), a concept coined by the French (how could it be otherwise…) that defines, in one word, climate, soil, and know-how (savoir-faire). That is, the influence exerted by a certain person when producing a wine. Translated into Spanish, it would be a notion similar to terruño.

We talk a lot –and we think we understand- about the importance of climate and soil, two fundamental elements in defining the result of a wine. And we often simply confuse the third leg of the table -that of the savoir-faire (or know-how)- with the winemaker. But it is much more than that: what defines the final result of a wine is the accumulated culture of a certain place, translated into viticultural and winemaking practices.

I believe the latter is key to understand one of our most awarded wines: Viña Morandé’s Brut Nature sparkling wine. It is made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes sourced from two vineyards that grow in our Belén estate, located in Lo Ovalle, Casablanca. Regarding climate, it is defined by the oceanic influence, and its soils are of granitic origin with red clays, run through by quartz veins. So far, everything well known and perfect for making a good sparkling wine using the champenoise method.

But what largely defines the quality and style of our Brut Nature is the experience assembled by Pablo Morandé and passed on to the winegrowers in the vineyard that was designed and planted by himself. And also his work culture and rigor, transmitted to our winemakers and to the team that has been with us for more than 20 years.

Engaged daily and personally with building his winery, Pablo Morandé engraved in fire a way of working and rigor that identifies our most recognized wines. This know-how has been essential to obtain the excellent results of this sparkling wine, which remains on its lees for 36 months and is blended with older base wines. It is only thus that it delivers a vinous style, with unparalleled development and complexity.

It is this combination of winemaking wisdom and practical experience that we call “know-how”. And although we don’t have the centuries-old tradition of European terroirs, it is the path that leads us to our terroirs and is made visible through this great sparkling wine. But also in the rebirth -in the eyes of the consumer- of appellations such as Maule, Itata, or Maipo.

In other words, it is impossible to understand this wine’s quality and unique style without considering the trilogy of climate, soil, and the expert hand of the men and women who craft it, from the vineyard to the closure of the bottle with a cork. It is a concept sometimes unknown, not always easy to reach, but which, in fact, is very simple to understand.

Ricardo Baettig

Winemaker at Viña Morandé


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