“G” Debuts

by Liz Caskey on August 9, 2006

G - Emiliana OrganicoI recently had the chance to try “G”, the new super-Chilean wine from Emiliana Vineyards, Chile’s pioneer organic and first fully certified biodynamic vineyards. The private tasting, held in (parent) holding company Viña Concha y Toro’s wine store, Vinos CyT, was in the company of the biodynamic grape guru, winemaker Alvaro Espinoza. G, whose name is derived from the Greek root meaning earth, alludes to the palpable terroir that one should find in their glass. I was interested to see where G would fall in this “super wine” category that has proliferated in Chile during the past two years, many of which are oriented for the US market.

G comes from the vineyard’s best lots in Los Robles, located in the Colchagua Valley about 2 hours south of Santiago. Colchagua, for those not familiar with the valley, is known for its “big” reds, mostly Cabernet and some Syrah, Merlot, and Carmenere. The valley runs east to west wedged between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific coastal range, a geographical situation that creates good ventilation and an area drenched in sun, which is not unlike Napa. In fact, it shares with its North American cousin similar punch and alcohol levels (15 degrees here is not uncommon!).

G is a blend of five varietals: Syrah (55%), and equal percentages (15%) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, and Merlot. Although the first harvest was in 2001 from the actual lots they are using now for G, only after the 2003 harvest (an excellent year for Chile) was G finally put into production. (Note apart: all those outstanding lots in 2001 went into Emiliana’s organic Coyam 2001, which has been declared a slam dunk by various journalists here). 2003 also coincided with the international certification of the vineyard as biodynamic. Alvaro told me that G’s objective is to produce a wine that expresses this biodynamic system and show the land of this specific nature which nurtures and produces these grapes. Let’s see.

The tasting: We tried the 2003 vintage, the first and only year released at present. Trying a fine wine this young almost seems like a sort of infanticide–like judging a baby and deciding how he/she will be at 20! The color is a deep, inky purple with long legs. The nose was a little closed upon first sniff so we swirled for several minutes in order to open up the aromas. For me, and excuse my lack of opulent wine journalist vocabulary, the nose hinted at prunes, black berries, and almost a whiff of dust (like a tractor just drove by—is that terroir?). In the mouth, it is much softer and more balanced than I expected for a wine weighing in at 15 degrees alcohol. It had a very long finish and did show complexity. Alvaro thought it was a wine ideal for aging at least 5-10 years.

Relevant info: Available this year in the US market at a cool US$90 (approx.)

My thoughts: An agreeable “drink” which could pair well with grilled meat, wild mushrooms, and “smoky” ingredients like bacon. The key is to keep it simple and not detract from the complexity of the wine. The dish also needs some amount of fat for the overall power of this wine (hence the meat, actually lamb chops could fare well here). My outstanding issue with this wine is its alcohol level. One could argue and perceive it as well balanced, but the truth was my palate still felt worn out after a glass, which I decided not spit (this is the “true” test, or prueba de fuego, as they say in Chile). While it is normal to find many Colchagua wines that are “big” and “heavy”, it was the sensation of having drunk a cocktail, not a glass of wine. Another round was out of the question if I was to drive home in a sober state. While it is classified as an ultra premium wine, I am still not totally convinced whether or not I tried a true terroir wine that spoke of those lots in Los Robles (that is, what made it exclusively taste and speak of Los Robles and not just a refined Colchagua style?). The line nowadays in how the word terroir is understood and used has blurred significantly. And the price tag, well that is a question of what the market perceives and ultimately will bear

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