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Winemaker Spotlight Interview with Manuela Astaburuaga

Christina, Sebastian, Patrick, Manuella in vineyard

Winemaker Spotlight Interview with Manuela Astaburuaga

How did you get started winemaking? 

I’m the 5th generation viticulturist in my family so I was born between tanks and vineyards. When we were kids we played hide and seek in the tanks of the winery and we rode a bicycle among the vineyards.

When I finished the school, I decided to study Agriculture because I love the nature and live in the countryside, then in my last year of university I went to Australia to do my first vintage and I loved it. After I started to work with my family and I decided to go to France to do a Master in viticulture and Oenology.

What I love the most about Oenology is that most of the time there is a family tradition behind it. In my case my father founded the company Viña Correa Albano in 1991 but my grandfather, great grandfather, … also had their own winery Viña Astaburuaga.

Who were your wine mentors? 

My mentors where my father and grandfather. My grandfather was one of the first to broker of wine in Chile and one of the first to export wines. We also have photos of the first exportation where you can see the boats with tanks full of wines.

I really don’t pay attention to the winemakers. I love to taste different wines from different wineries, valleys and countries, but I never pay attention who was the winemaker, for me is a team job.

What do you look for when you make wine? What is your general winemaking philosophy?

The most important thing is have good quality grapes. A healthy grape, free of disease, means we can start making a good wine.

In white wines the expression of aromas and acidity is really important, so we try to have long fermentations at low temperature.

In reds, the wine aging is the most important for me. It is necessary to have the micro oxygenation to soften the tannins and it is very important to limit the oxidation to preserve the fruity aromas that come from the grape.

What is the most difficult aspect of making wine? What’s your biggest challenge as a winemaker?

The first thing is to have good quality grapes, for that we have to work all year.

In viticulture/oenology we say that we never have two equal years so for me the biggest challenge is to know how to react quickly in different situations as a rain or excessive heat for example can cause challenges.

What bottles of wine in your cellar are you most excited about? 

A few weeks ago, we were sorting out and we found samples of our first exportation of wine. We opened a bottle and it was really good so now that we found the bottles we take care of them the most. Also, I have a box of 12 bottles of my grandfather’s wine from my year of birth that he gave to my parents at my baptism and I’m waiting for a special occasion to open it.

I don’t have any favorite wines but for me the history behind the wine is very important, we cannot compare a big Chateau of Bordeaux with unlimited means with a small producer with all the adversities of nature.

In general, I enjoy more a wine from a small producer with a tradition behind them, than a wine from a big winery.

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What’s your philosophy on Oak and Wine?

For me the most important is oxygen in aging the wine, the barrels have porosity so they give a micro-oxygenation to the wine which is very important to the complexity and the maturation of tannins.

I use barrels, but I always try to not exaggerate because I prefer to preserve the fruity aromas over those gave from the oak.

Are you filtering your wines?

Yes and no. We have a tangential filter which is very good in preserving the quality. For our premium line, which has a minimum of 8 months in the barrel we will not filter.

Are there any new winemaking techniques or tools you’d like to experiment with?

We are thinking about implementing the pulsair system in our winery, so we don’t have to us the remontage method and limit the oxidation.

What’s been your greatest challenge as a winemaker?

The generational change.

Any advice for a new home winemaker? 

Have patience. We cannot rush the aging and to have complexity, sucrosity and soft tannins are important and take time.

Also, you have to have in mind that the oxygen can be the best friend or the worst enemy in the aging. Is important to have micro-oxygenation to help the maturity of wine but if it is not controlled, he can oxidize some components and be harmful to the final quality.

If you had to pick one wine to drink for the rest of your life what would it be?

I cannot pick only one wine, for me the wine depends the occasion and is important to change and try different wines.

What’s your favorite wine region?

I don’t have a favorite region but I loved the whites of Alsace and the Cabernet Franc of Saumur Champigny.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am shy and I have a very bad memory, that’s why I can never remember the names of the winemakers and wineries I have tasted (that’s why I always write my tasting notes).

If you weren’t making wine what would you be doing?

I really have no idea!

 

Chilean Harvest Update

chilean wine

Viticulture:

Chile’s wine growing success is due to the cooling influences they receive from the Pacific Ocean, the Andes Mountains, and the warm and plentiful sunshine. Their warm Mediterranean climate allows for grapes to fully ripen and avoid fungal diseases. There is a current called the Humboldt Current that flows up from Antarctica, along the Chilean coast, and the cool air is pushed inland by the wind patterns. This cooling effect helps cool off the grapes during those sunny days. Colchagua and Curico Valley both benefit from this ocean influence; which allows these regions to produce grapes from fertile soil for wines that are gaining premium reputations.

Making Chilean Wine:

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape in Chile. Cabernets from this region of the world boast full bodied, ripe black fruit aromas and flavors, and some herbaceous characteristics. If you are a winemaker who does not enjoy herbaceous notes, we suggest using the CSM yeast on all of your Chilean reds. This yeast was specifically cultivated to help offset herbaceous notes. Merlots from Chile tend to be medium bodied, fruit forward, and depending on your winemaking style, can produce some very complex characteristics. Carmenere from Chile (known as the main grape of the country) showcase high levels of tannins, black fruits, and some herbaceous notes depending on the winemaking style. Another grape I would like to point out is Syrah from Chile. Syrah is widely planted across the region and displays notes of black fruit, and is full bodied, with great intensity. If you have tried Syrah from South Africa in the past it might be interesting to try Syrah from Chile and compare and contrast, or even blend them both together!

This season we will have Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Pinot Noir grapes and juices from Chile.

White wines from Chile are also delicious. The most widely planted white grapes are Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. We are lucky to receive Viognier and Pinot Grigio, as they are not as widely planted. Sauvignon Blanc from Chile has flavors of ripe apple, citrus and tropical flavors. While the Chardonnays have notes of ripe fruit and oak flavors. All white wines from Chile poses fresh, fruity, and crisp qualities that make it the perfect summer sipper.

This season we will have Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat, Viognier, and Pinot Grigio grapes and juices from Chile.

Arrival Estimates:

The Chilean grapes and juices should start arriving in late April, early May. Once the grapes are harvested we will have more details.

Grapes Available from Chile:

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier.

Juices Available from Chile:

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Muscat.

For more information on making wine from Chile check out these blogs posts:

For more information on how to order please email sales@juicegrape.com or call 887-812-1137. Looking forward to working with you this Spring!

Yeast suggestions for the following grapes via Manuela Astaburuaga

Yeast suggestions for the following grapes via Manuela Astaburuaga. Manuela is the enologist at “Correa Albano” and has studied in both France and New Zealand. Her family also owns many of the vineyards we source from.

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  • Sauvignon Blanc – For the SB the most important thing is the yeast that express the thiols aromas. Try VIN13 to bring out such thiol aromas like tropical fruits.
  • Carmenere & Merlot – Try a yeast that expresses the black fruits like CSM
  • Cabernet Sauvignon –You want the fruit and earthiness to shine. Try D254, BM4X4, or CSM. Maybe think about blending yeasts for more complexity!
  • Pinot noir – RC 212 is one of the best yeasts for Pinot Noir.

Manuela’s Favorite Blend:  Merlot-Carmenere

Why does Sauvignon Blanc wine taste so good from Chile? (According to Manuela)

  • “The different temperature between day and night is very important to the aroma expression, we have that kind of climate in our Valley (Curicó) so our SB is very aromatic and with a good acidity. We ferment at 58-50ºF to preserve the aromas.”