Located about 150 kilometers south of the Metropolitan Region of Chile, the Colchagua Valley is one of Chile’s especially renowned wine areas for their red varietals. The area of the Colchagua Valley, a word that means “site of small lagoons” was the southern boundary of the Inca Empire and later became the area where the most powerful families of the country built their large mansions, some of which are still standing.
Colchagua is one of the transverse valleys of Central Chile, whose land is washed by the waters of Tinguiririca river and where the cities of San Fernando and Santa Cruz, two of the most important of the Sixth Region are located, and some localities of tourist interest, such as Chimbarongo, Lolol or Pichilemu.
Colchagua Valley is characterized by the excellent quality of their land, a perfect microclimate for growing grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, which represents an important part of all Valley vineyards, as well as the Carmenere variety.
The Mediterranean climate of Chile presents warm and dry summers and cold and rainy winters, so much appreciated by the vineyards. The growing season is generous on sunny days and with great thermal changes between day and night. The vineyards are strongly influenced by the cooling effect of the Pacific Ocean and the Humboldt Current. It originates in the icy waters near the Antarctica and moves northward along the west coast of South America. The effect of the Humboldt current collision with the coastline of northern Chile produces clouds and fog. However, little or no precipitation occurs.
A unique geography and natural barriers such as the Atacama Desert in the north, the Andes Mountains in the east, the Patagonian Ice Fields and Antarctica in the south, and the Pacific Ocean and the Cordillera de la Costa in the West, protect Chilean vineyards from disease and give rise to a wide range of soil types. This vast mosaic of terroirs makes possible the elaboration of a great diversity of wines.
It is this region of South America also propitious to suffer earthquakes, given the displacement of the tectonic plates of the zone. An earthquake is always synonymous with destruction. We see images on television of how cities, towns, and roads remain after suffering their effects. However, on some occasions, although the less, after an earthquake comes something new. And this is what happened in Chile in February 2010. The family home of the parents of José Ignacio Maturana, over a hundred years old built with old techniques and Chilean clay tile, was completely destroyed. It was then, when they had to start from scratch, life as a family changed and they decided to elaborate high-end wines. Maturana Wines emerged.
Under this label, José Ignacio Maturana, an agronomist and one of the most renowned winemakers of Chile, produces a wine called MW Maturana Wines, an assembly of Carmenere (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) whose grapes come from the town of Marchigue in the Colchagua Valley, an area where the Carmenere offers a great result. The grapes for this wine are harvested and destemmed by hand and fermented in small deposits to highlight the characteristics of the grape and its origin. 20% of the wine is aged in concrete eggs and later in a new 500-liter French barrels and the rest in 300-liter barrels of second and third use for a total period of 14 months. After bottling, the wine is left resting for at least 14 more months.
Another wine is Lucas Maturana Wines, a single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon from the Colchagua Valley that is aged in French oak for 10 months.
José Ignacio has another line of wines that come from vineyards of more than 70 years where all the works are made by hand and under the organic rules. Only a small dose of Sulphur is added at the time of bottling in order to protect and maintain the wine. These wines are fermented with their native yeasts and without adding any oenological additive. The most important of these wines from our point of view is that they are Orange Wines, wines macerated on their skins for a period of time:
Maturana Semillon Wines is a single varietal Semillon. 20% of the wine ferments on the skins for three and a half months. The rest is fermented as a traditional wine. The vineyard is located in the coastal area of Paredones.
Maturana Naranjo Wines is a monovarietal of Torontel macerated on the skins for six months and a half. The fermentation of this wine is in open barrels. The vineyard is located in Loncomilla in the Maule Valley.
In 2011 José Ignacio and his family created Puente Austral Wines brand, in the Colchagua Valley. Under this label, they produce different wines with international varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Merlot, distributed on different lines: Entrada, Selección, Reserva Privada and Gran Reserva elaborated with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. They also make a sparkling wine with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Soon we will talk with José Ignacio Maturana about his wines and his wine philosophy.