09/01/2011

Complementando el “Plan Estratégico 2020” de Wines of Chile // Complementing Wines of Chile’s “Strategic 2020 Plan”

Filed under: General — sbruchfeld @ 22:55

(For English scroll down)

Recientemente “Wines of Chile” concluyó la elaboración del “Plan estatégico 2020” para la industria vitivinícola chilena. Un resumen de dicho plan  se puede encontrar en el siguiente enlace:

http://www.vinasdechile.com/noticias/asociacion/vinos-de-chile-presenta-plan-estrategico-2020/165/

Complementando esta visión, algunos comentarios hechos por Sven Bruchfeld fueron publicados en el ejemplar Noviembre/Diciembre 2010 de la revista chilena VITIS.  El texto original en formato pdf puede ser encontrado en http://www.vitismagazine.cl/

ENGLISH:

“Wines of Chile” recently concluded its “Strategic 2020 Plan” for the Chilean Wine Industry. A summary of it can be found in the following links:

http://www.winesofchile.org/news-press/wines-of-chiles-strategic-plan-2020/

or:

http://www.harpers.co.uk/news/9745-wines-of-chile-unveils-2020-strategy-to-double-sales-to-3bn.html

Complementing this vision, some  commentaries by Sven Bruchfeld were published in the 2010 November/December issue of the Chilean magazine VITIS.  The original text in pdf  format can be found at http://www.vitismagazine.cl/

09/08/2010

Chile, ¿qué será, syrah?… Syrah or Shiraz ?

Filed under: General — sbruchfeld @ 14:13

(v. castellano a continuación)

For most grape varieties grown around the world, there is more than one name to it, being one example Syrah, known in some countries of the Southern Hemisphere as Shiraz. Although in Chile, Syrah started with its original French name, some producers have also adopted the term Shiraz. Several reasons exist for choosing one or the other. Decisions in this regard should be made based on heritage, style and above all the personality of the wines and the country but not based on copied marketing strategies.

Although there is only one origin for each variety, different names can be used for the same grape in different parts of the world. The French variety Cot is known as Malbec in South America and the Spanish Cariñena as Carignan in France. In Chile the term Carmener was recently approved for the Bordeaux variety Carmenère, also known in northern Italy as Carmenero. On the other hand Pinot Noir is for example known as Spätburgunder in Germany. Syrah is a red variety that originated many centuries ago in the Rhone Valley in France. In Australia, South Africa and parts of New Zealand it is known as Shiraz.

The story of Syrah in Chile is rather short. It was only in the early 1990’s that the first cuttings arrived. Although the first trials were performed by the former CarpeDiem winery in Maule, it was Viña Errázuriz who made the first serious commercial attempts with different French clones in the Aconcagua Valley. Soon after many other producers followed and Syrah became a very important player as a high quality grape in Chile. Syrah adapted tremendously well to the Chilean conditions producing wines with a very unique style, very different from what is made in Australia or France.

During the last 20 years, Australia has shown tremendous success as a good quality wine producer and exporter, being Shiraz its flagship and signature variety. Although many styles abound, Shiraz is many times associated with fruitiness, soft tannins and approachable wines. In Chile, Syrah was the term used first but many wineries started stating Shiraz on the labels instead. Good reasons for using Syrah or Shiraz could be origin or style, but what most Chilean producers claimed, was that Shiraz seems to be easier to sell than Syrah. Many of them even stated that they wanted to be related a little to Australia or its success.

None of both terms is better than the other but Chilean producers should stop making such decisions based on marketing reasons only. Chile needs to start believing in its wines, its heritage and above all in its winemaking philosophy first. We should stop looking what others are doing in such detail. That will probably lead, to a more consistent and solid marketing strategy. If a producer wants to use the term Shiraz then it should be for any reason, but the fact of the wines being easier to sell. Australia is currently facing some image difficulties, due to big brands pumping and promoting millions of cases of inexpensive and mediocre quality wines into the market. If this trend continues, are Chilean wineries going to change for Syrah or just any other name again?

The original name of the variety is Syrah and most of the planting material available in Chile is from France. The style of Syrah being made in Chile, is unique. Indeed fruity and full bodied but still refined and with strong spicy or mineral notes, especially in coastal or cooler climates. On the other hand, Shiraz is a name profoundly related to the Australian winemaking heritage and culture. Many consumers even think it is a separate variety. For all these reasons our decision at Polkura, was not to name our wine Shiraz but Syrah instead.

Chile only recently produces wines that can be considered of world class, being the country just now part of the big scene in terms of quality and style. It is important for Chilean producers to develop the future based on their own heritage. It is what makes the difference between a wine country and a wine culture.

(Castellano:)

Existen alrededor del mundo, diferentes nombres para las cepas de uva que se cultivan. Un ejemplo es el “Syrah” que se conoce como “Shiraz” en algunos países del hemisferio sur. Aunque en Chile se comenzó usando el nombre original francés, algunos productores han adoptado la palabra Shiraz. Hay varias razones para elegir uno o el otro nombre. Las decisiones en este sentido deberían ser hechas basadas en la herencia, el estilo y por sobre todo la personalidad de los vinos o el país y no ser copias de estrategias de marketing de otras latitudes.

Aunque el origen de cada variedad es uno solo, diferentes nombres pueden ser usados para la misma cepa en distintas partes del mundo. El cultivar francés Cot, se conoce como Malbec en America del Sur y la española Cariñana como Carignan en Francia. En Chile fue recientemente aprobado el uso del nombre Carmener para la variedad bordelesa Carmenère, también conocida en Italia como Carmenero. Por otra parte, el Pinot Noir lleva por ejemplo el nombre de Spätburgunder en Alemania. El Syrah es una variedad que se originó hace varios siglos en la zona del Ródano en Francia. Tanto en Australia, Sudáfrica y en algunas partes de Nueva Zelanda, se conoce como Shiraz.

La historia del Syrah en Chile es relativamente corta. Solo a principios de los años 90, llegó al país el primer material vegetal. Aunque las experiencias originales fueron realizadas por la Viña CarpeDiem en el Maule, fue en Viña Errázuriz donde se hicieron los primeros intentos comerciales serios, con clones franceses en el Valle de Aconcagua. Al poco andar, otros productores siguieron sus pasos y el Syrah se transformó en un actor importante en la producción de vinos de alta calidad en Chile. El Syrah se adaptó tremendamente bien a las condiciones chilenas, produciendo vinos de un estilo único y diferente de lo que se hace por ejemplo en Australia o en Francia.

Durante los últimos 20 años, Australia ha demostrado un tremendo éxito en la producción y exportación de vinos de calidad, siendo el Shiraz su cepa emblemática. Si bien existen muchos estilos, el Shiraz es muchas veces asociado con frutosidad, taninos suaves y vinos accesibles. En Chile se comenzó usando el término Syrah en las etiquetas, sin embargo, muchas bodegas comenzaron a utilizar también la palabra Shiraz. Buenos motivos para utilizar Syrah o Shiraz pueden ser el origen o el estilo, pero lo que la mayoría de los productores chilenos señalaba, era que Shiraz parecía ser más fácil de vender que Syrah. Muchos de ellos incluso declaran que quieren de cierta manera ser  relacionados con Australia o su reciente éxito.

Ninguno de los dos nombres es mejor que el otro, pero los productores chilenos deberían dejar de tomar decisiones de este tipo, solamente basadas en criterios de marketing. Chile necesita como primera cosa, comenzar a creer en sus vinos, su legado y por sobre todo en su filosofía enológica. Deberíamos dejar de mirar lo que los otros están haciendo con tanto detalle. Esto llevaría probablemente a una estrategia de marketing más sólida y consistente. Si un productor decide usar el término Shiraz, debiese ser por cualquier motivo, menos el que el vino sea más fácil de vender. Australia está enfrentando actualmente algunas dificultades de imagen debido a que las grandes empresas inundan el mercado y promueven millones de cajas de vino barato y calidad mediocre. Si esta tendencia continúa, ¿acaso las bodegas chilenas volverán a usar la palabra Syrah o cualquier otro nombre nuevamente?

El nombre original de la cepa es Syrah y la mayoría del material vegetal, disponible en Chile es de origen francés. El estilo del Syrah hecho en Chile es único. Es de hecho frutoso y de gran cuerpo pero al mismo tiempo refinado y con marcadas notas especiadas y minerales, especialmente en zonas costeras o climas más fríos. Por otro lado, Shiraz es un nombre profundamente relacionado con la herencia vitivinícola australiana y su cultura. Muchos consumidores incluso piensan que se trata de una cepa independiente. Por todas estas razones, nuestra decisión en Polkura, fue no utilizar Shiraz sino el nombre Syrah.

Solo recientemente, Chile produce vinos que pueden ser considerados de clase mundial. Chile es solamente ahora, un verdadero actor en las ligas mayores en términos de calidad y estilo. Es importante que los productores chilenos desarrollen el futuro basado en su propia herencia. Es lo que hace la real diferencia entre un país de vinos y una cultura de vinos.

09/03/2010

Shaping (or shaking?) our Terroir

Filed under: General — sbruchfeld @ 02:28
Holidays near the epicentre only days before the quake

Holidays near the epicentre only days before the quake

It was one of those never happening week ends. The kids were with my parents in Quintay at the beach (south of Valparaiso) and we thought we would have the week end of our lives. You know, like in the old days…. We went to a little party at a friend’s house, some wine … probably a bit more than normal and went home.

Once the house started shaking, my wife went to the kid’s room to see how they were doing, but hang on… nobody was there. It took several seconds for her to remember they were not home. In the meantime I was trying to hold her but as soon as I got close enough either her or I fell. We managed to lean on the wall and then she crawled towards the phone. While the earth was still moving she managed to ring my parents. It was probably one of the few phone calls that got thru that night before most communication systems in Chile collapsed. They were all fine.

Quintay is 300 km away from Curico. We packed tents, sleeping bags, a stove, 25 litres of water and food for several days in the car with the fullest petrol tank (just over ½ full) and took off. It was 04:15, just 30 or so minutes after the quake. The road seemed ok but we took it easy. We turned the radio on and it was mute. After ca. 30 minutes we found an AM station broadcasting from San Martin de Los Andes in northern Patagonia, Argentina some 800 km away. Can someone explain how that works?? They were talking about a massive 8+ earthquake in Chile with the epicentre not far from home and a possible tsunami. We could only hope the wave would not hit Quintay (it didn’t). That was the first time I remembered the winery. We were not doing much talking so I had enough time from that moment on to imagine collapsed tanks, plus barrels and bottles flying all over the place.

We didn’t have enough petrol to drive to Quintay and return and all petrol stations on the road were closed or had no power. Suddenly we found a petrol station open on the opposite side of the highway. Next exit and return. There were ca 30 cars waiting before us. It took some 45 minutes to get our tank full. Cash only!! As we approached Santiago we started receiving more news broadcasted on the radio. I am so glad our dear president Mrs. Bachellet said there was no danger of a tsunami. We felt relieved while still driving to see the kids. We all know she was finally wrong. So many lives could have been saved. What happened to common sense? An 8,8 quake off the coast means high risk of a tsunami. Period. Nobody needs scientific data telling the opposite for that. Anyway….

We had to cross the southern part of Santiago and had already heard a bridge had collapsed. I had figured a few alternatives and with no hesitation exit the highway. Only a few km down the road a traffic jam. It was already 06:00 or 06:30 and still dark. I pull over and get off the car to see what was going on. Only 300m ahead an overpass had collapsed on the highway. There was only room for small cars under what used to be a bridge but no trucks or buses would fit. We did a little irresponsible off road detour, passed trucks and buses and went under the bridge. I know, very stupid…

About 1 hour later we managed to phone Quintay again. Everybody still fine. We were also able to call my wife’s parents and they were ok as well.

We arrived in Quintay by 09:00. After breakfast we started our journey back home. Basically the same way we had used before but just with much more traffic. By the time we arrived at the collapsed overpass we had passed before, the police had already closed it, and traffic got diverted somehow.

On the way back to Curico we started seeing more of the damage. We passed 6 or 7 wineries. All of them looked horrible. My oldest son kept saying: “Dad I smell wine again”. We arrived home 11 hours after having left. With daylight, we checked everything in the house and it seemed fine.

As per now, POLKURA uses for the most part a custom crush facility in Sagrada Familia near Curico. I went there with very little hope. Bakery, pharmacy and the old church in town were all leveled. As I got to the winery, the old mud brick house, were the offices are, was still standing but in very bad shape. The winery workers only suffered minor damage. The walls from the winery had fallen down and one could see the mess from the outside already. I enter and see several tanks laying on the floor and barrels piled like that wood stick game called Mikado. I went to the section were our barrels were stored and all I see is 16 out of 200 barrels still standing. All the rest on the floor or about to fall. Most bottles ok and our wine stored in tanks also ok.
I started counting ok or full barrels. First count: 60, second count 50, third count 90. As I was not getting anywhere with my statistics I decided to put as much bungs back as possible in order to close open barrels and go home. That was the first time I cried.

We also have some wine stored in a winery in Apalta in Colchagua. The next day I decided to see how they were doing. My smart wife suggested to take my bike with me, just in case. The road to Apalta was cut. After 5 km on the bike I had to get off. It was like riding on a glacier. 3m deep cracks that could not be avoided. Walking was safer. The winery was ok with very little damage. The owner had lost his house but his family was ok. They were all camping in the garden. Many wineries in Colchagua were not as lucky as they were.

I went to the hardware store that had opened Sunday evening to buy just about everything I could use to save wine. Pipes, hoses, fittings, etc. By then I had no idea what sort of equipment I would have available in the winery. That afternoon I finally could speak to Cristian, our vineyard manager. He said his house had collapsed but everybody was safe. The vineyard seemed fine and the irrigation system also. He was the only one that had suffered damage.

Monday morning we started with the cleaning up and sorting. It was a very slow process of picking barrel by barrel and lifting tank by tank. This is how it is done:

http://www.youtube.com/user/sbruchfeld?feature=mhw4#p/a/u/0/0TYMwGBEgKs

On Wednesday, my father and my brother joined to help us out. I am so thankful they did. They cleaned a lot of bottles, dried cardboard boxes, counted and kept us laughing during the day. By Thursday afternoon, power in Marchigue was back so we could irrigate again. We had all the barrels outside and they were ready to be topped, which we did with my partner Gonzalo. It was another three days of lifting barrels, pumping and filling. We were done on Sunday, almost 9 days after the quake. At the same time the owner of the winery managed to get most of the broken stainless steel tanks out and put some new ones in and return a few ones that were lightly damaged back in place.

The winery is ready for vintage 2010 now and all this will now just be a very bad memory for us.

In terms of losses, they were finally not as high as I originally feared. At the beginning I thought maybe 50% of the 2009 had been lost but finally we got it down to 25%. That is still a lot of wine but I am so happy we have that other 75% of 2009 and all of the 2008 to keep going. We probably belong to the lucky less affected 5%. Our heart is with those who lost more than just a few litres of wine. Houses, jobs or a life….

For those that have supported us during the last week just a big THANKS. I hope I can make it up some day. We were lucky. Nothing happened to us really. The real pain is still out there and it will take a few years to recover, so in the meantime, just
Drink Chilean wine!! Drink MOVI wine!! Drink POLKURA!!

02/02/2010

Welcome to our new site! / ¡Bienvenidos a nuestro nuevo sitio!

Filed under: General — sbruchfeld @ 18:43
Vintage 2009 Block I

Vintage 2009 Block I

(v. castellana a continuación)

It seemed like eternity to us, but we finally managed to have our new web site up and running. If you had visited the previous version, it just contained basic information on our POLKURA, with some descriptions about its origin and the bandits that actually make it.
Besides making a much more interactive site with hopefully lots of regular updates, we wanted to really explain how our wines come about. Also why they taste the way they do and what Marchigüe as a wine growing region, is all about, besides obviously being the most spectacular area to grow Syrah in Chile… 🙂
We hope you enjoy the site and find lots of valuable information here. Our favourite sections are “WHERE” and “VINEYARDS”, but you are certainly free to choose your own.
Oh… and you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter too.
CHEERS!!
Sven & Gonzalo

Nos parecía una eternidad, pero finalmente logramos tener nuestro nuevo sitio web funcionando. Si visitaste la versión anterior, esta solamente contenía información básica sobre POLKURA, con algunas descripciones sobre su origen y los bandidos que objetivamente lo hacen.
Aparte de hacer un sitio mucho más interactivo, esperando, con muchas actualizaciones periódicas, quisimos explicar exactamente como se originan nuestros vinos. También el motivo por el que tienen el sabor que poseen y lo que realmente significa Marchigüe, como región vitivinícola aparte de obviamente ser la zona más espectacular de Chile para cultivar Syrah… 🙂
Esperamos que disfrutes del sitio y encuentres mucha información valiosa en el. Nuestras secciones favoritas son “DONDE” y “VIÑEDOS”, pero ciertamente eres libre de elegir la tuya.
Ah… y también nos puedes seguir en Facebook y Twitter.
SALUD!!
Sven y Gonzalo

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