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Interviews

Wine Miles from Chile

Adolfo Hurtado tells Frank Corr, he  has the answer

The issue of ‘wine miles’ has been raised again and again by European producers who point to the environmental impact of shipping large volumes of wine from the Southern Hemisphere.
They have a point because transporting wine in heavy glass bottles over thousands of miles does generate significant volumes of CO2 which often counter-balance good environmental practices in the vineyards.

Adolfo Hurtado, general manager and head winemaker at Cono Sur is aware of the issue and has produced a solution.
‘We are Carbon Neutral’, he says. ‘Our company holds the International ISO Environmental Management Standard and we are also only the second producer to meet the CEMAR standard for environmental practices from the vineyard to bottling. We are however aware of the transportation issue and we have addressed this by sourcing lightweight glass bottles for our Cono Sur and Isla Negra brands.

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Andrea's 'Woman Winemaker' Title

Andrea Andrea Freeborough head winemaker at  Fleur du Cap was chosen as ‘South Africa Woman Winemaker of the Year’ in 2010.
‘Is that not a tad sexist ?’, I asked when we met at Dublin’s Dylan Hotel.
‘I suppose you could say that, but you must also remember that the South African wine industry is heavily male-dominated.  We women winemakers are in a small minority, so this competition helps us to confirm our identity’.
So- is there a competition for black wine-makers ?
‘No- we have very few black people in the wine-making side of the industry. But the number is growing and will grow further as more black people go through the educational system.’

The  ‘Woman Winemaker of the Year’ gong was awarded for Andrea’s exceptional 2009 Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest which won three gold medals in London.  ‘They changed the rules this year. Instead of interviews, the award was made for the best wine submitted to a blind tasting’, she says.

Late harvest wine is a niche product in South Africa as it is in most of the world’s wine regions and in everyday life Andrea is concerned with making the Fleur du Cap whites and reds from 17,000 tonnes of grapes grown for the company by 45 contracted farmers. ‘We set high standards of quality and our viticulturalists ensure that the grapes are grown and nurtured according to our specifications’, she says.

From the very first vintage released in 1968, Fleur du Cap wines have been vinified, blended and aged at The Bergkelder, one of the most advanced underground cellars in the southern hemisphere built into the hillside of the Papegaaiberg. In 1979, the company  began the maturation of quality wine in small casks of new French oak and in 1998 The Bergkelder launched the reserve range of Fleur du Cap Unfiltered wines. Each of the wines in the unfiltered range is made of grapes from a specific vineyard block or a blend of two vineyards. Owing to the traditional hands-on approach in the cellar, these wines are not filtered resulting in rich, complex wines that abound with fruit and flavour.

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Montes Develops Chile 'Terroir'

montesChile is celebrating the 200th. Anniversary of its independence and the heroics of Irish soldier of fortune Bernardo O’Higgins, the country’s ‘Liberator’.
It is no surprise therefore that  this month has seen the arrival here of several leading Chilean winemakers, the most recent being the renowned Aurelio Montes (pictured here with Frank Corr) who conducted a tasting of his wines which are now distributed here by Barry Fitzwilliam.

Aurelio Montes established his own winery with Douglas Murray in 1987 and they were joined in the following year by Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand.  Unlike most Chilean winerieis at the time, they focused on producing quality wines for export and succeeded to the extent that Montes wines now sell in 110 countries. ‘We are the fourth largest wine exporter in Chile’,  Aurelio said. The company has also expanded into Argentina and has recently bought two small properties in California.

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