04 Nov El Gran Petit – Searching for riches in Alto Cachapoal
In our permanent quest to explore different valleys and techniques to create new wines, we often succeed in making the wine we dreamed of. But on other occasions, we find that our intuition and knowledge are not infallible. Usually, these efforts don’t get to be known because they do not materialize in a concrete wine. However, for us, these efforts are always necessary because they allow us to learn important lessons. And these small-scale trials and errors are a fundamental part of the work carried out by vine growers and winemakers.
In 2009, we thought everything was clear when we established our La Moralina vineyard in the piedmont of Cachapoal. We thus favored planting Cabernet Sauvignon on alluvial soils, and Carmenère on the alluvial-colluvial soils. However, we “knew” that the particularities of this terroir could offer us more, so we timidly bet on two small blocks of Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot. Both varieties were certainly not unknown to us, as we have been producing these two little giants in the Maipo Valley for more than ten years, mainly as blending wines. But in this terroir, it seemed something uncommon.
Both varieties share the name ‘petit’ due to the size of their berries. They are spelled petit or petite according to the gender assigned to each one. That is, Petit Verdot (HE-masculine) and Petite Sirah (SHE-femenine).
Once vinified, though, they present evident differences regarding their type of fruitiness or their pyrazine levels. But both share aspects like concentration, tannic power, color, and a certain one-dimensionality in their aroma and flavor expression. This has usually led them to be used more as supporting than leading actors in a wine.
On this occasion, we hit the target with great precision and were able to experience their potential already in the first harvests. Especially when vinified in cement eggs, with gentle and almost passive extractions of their black skins.
Cristián Carrasco, the winemaker in charge of crafting our Gran Petit noticed it immediately. He has shown enormous skills in this game of precision and subtlety, producing a deep and concentrated wine that combines a somewhat floral character and finesse, a richness unknown to us and that the fascinating terroir of Alto Cachapoal has revealed to those who have known how to search for it.