VOLUME 19
Featured in this issue

Chile Today: Hot Tomorrow and the Next Day

In these uncertain economic times one thing that is bankable is that wine lovers will not lose their thirst for their favorite beverage, but like everyone, will keep a sharp eye out for bargains to sate their winter woes. And no country producing wine today offers more value, especially for red wine, than Chile does. With its sunny and dry Mediterranean climate, 450 years of viticulture, and a political reversal of fortune that has radically changed governmental policies towards vineyard planting in the last 15+ years, Chile is finally getting the attention it deserves in international circles.

Chile produces wines from the world’s most popular varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and is unique in the world for having the only major wine region that is free from phylloxera, that nasty little root louse that devastated the European continent a century ago. As such, the country’s unusually benign conditions make it quite suitable for organically grown vines. It’s no wonder that the world’s largest single biodynamic vineyard is located here.

With an influx of foreign investment (Lafite-Rothschild, Bruno Prats, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Mondavi, Paul Hobbs, Jess Jackson), a squadron of flying winemakers, and a strong presence of homegrown viticulturalists and winemakers who have been educated abroad, Chile is consistently producing wines that are reliable, fruity and inexpensive, as well as some real top notch powerhouses (Casa Lapostolle’s Clos Apalta 2005 was Wine Spectator’s number one wine in last year’s Top 100, which at $75.00 for a 96 point Bordeaux Blend, is a relative steal).

As the fourth largest exporter to the United States, with 356,000 acres under vine, and 80+ wineries that turn out six million cases a year, Chile is inarguably South America’s premier producer in terms of both quantity and quality, from the Casablanca Valley, with its crisp and quaffable whites, to the valleys of Maipo and Rapel, which excel at Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot of world class distinction and character.

The Blend’s Monthly Featured Producer: MATETIC

The Matetic family formed this winery in 1999, and while new to the world of wine, they were confident in the promise of the climate and soils in the Rosario Valley, a sub-region of the San Antonio Valley, just 75 miles from Santiago, where their vineyards are now planted. This completely enclosed valley runs perpendicular to the ocean and features extraordinary sunlight, possessing the ideal climatic and topographic conditions for both red and white wines.

Three labels make up the many offerings from this quality conscious producer: EQ, Corralillo, and the eponymous Matetic. The range includes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and a Merlot blend.

The grapes are hand-picked at harvest and hand selected at the winery. Their modern design state-of-the-art winemaking facility was built with an eye to its surroundings and incorporates a gravitational-flow design that optimizes management of the grapes brought in from the nearby vineyards, which are certified organic.

Winery website: http://www.mateticvineyards.com/

Recommended Wine:

wine label Corralillo (“little barnyard”) is a nod to the still-standing century-old wine cellar and winery on the Matetic property, which was once used to produce wine from the Mission grape (“Pais” locally). This Bordeaux-type blend is composed of 80% Merlot, 12% Malbec and 8% Cabernet Franc. Each of these varieties requires careful management of the vines in order to obtain the optimum ripeness in the cold climate of the San Antonio Valley, but it is just this climate that allows the wine to develop its deep intense color, delicate aromas and great concentration.

During the vinification process, wine maker Paula Cárdenas Sáez oak ages each variety for one year in new and old French barrels before blending them together for the best quality and expression of the wine. The finished product has a deep red color with intense aromas of Cherry marmalade, strawberries, spices, and chocolate. In the mouth it shows its distinct components: the Merlot contributes red fruit aromas, the Malbec wild berries and rounded tannins, while the Cabernet Franc gives the spices and the solid structure. Ultimately the oak marries perfectly with the wine to give it bold character and elegance. Like a good Cru Bourgeois from Bordeaux, this wine pairs well with a host of foods, including beef fajitas, brisket, vegetable curry, Grana Padano, pork chops or minestrone soup. About $15.00 USD.

Catalog this wine in The Personal Wine Curator cellar software like this:

  • Producer: Matetic
  • Wine Name/Appellation: Corralillo, Reserve Red
  • Vintage: 2005
  • Varietal: Bordeaux Blend
  • Type: Red
  • Vineyard/Sub-sub:
  • Sub-region: San Antonio
  • Region: Central Valley (Chile)
  • Country: Chile
  • Body: Medium
  • Distinction: Bordeaux Blend, Red
  • Drink after: 2008
  • Drink by: 2014

Did you know a $20 Bottle of Wine Yields About $1 in Profits for the Winery?

You’ve heard the old joke. Q: How do you make a small fortune in the wine industry? A: Start with a large fortune and buy a winery.

It’s easy to feel dizzy about the high prices of a bottle of wine, but taking a moment to ponder the actual net income for the good folks who manufacture the stuff can be a sobering experience. Taking as an example a typical California wine, produced and bottled by a winery that owns and operates its own facility and vineyards, the per bottle costs can be analyzed roughly in three tiers.

Starting at the point of sale, the first tier is the wine shop, which, depending on a variety of factors such as rent and storage time, will charge anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times their cost of the wine in order to yield a profit margin of 30% to 50%. The shop usually has to purchase the wine from a distributor, which is the second tier. The distributor acts as a middle man between the winery and the shops, offering the winery such essential services as a sales team and marketing wing, and a shipping infrastructure. Distributors typically take about a 30% profit margin, depending on the buying power of the retailer and the deal they can cut with the winery.

If you’ve been doing your math, that means the winery is selling the bottle for about eight bucks. If the winery in our example above hopes to be profitable, they’re counting on a 50% margin. That means that the bottle in question cost them around $4 to produce, which includes the grapes, the bottle, the cork, the barrel, the foil and the label. Considering the expenses of running a winery, such as staff, energy costs, insurance, marketing, etc., most of the profit margin is gone before it’s ever been collected, which leaves only about one green back dollar to put in the kitty. But before they go writing checks to their investors, if the winery hopes to continue in the next vintage, they will have to spring for such things as new barrels and new grapes, which most likely will require the use of that dollar and maybe another one from the bank. Sounds like an Abbott and Costello routine, except that it’s not very funny for the people who are trying to make a profit. Comedy may be hard, but running a winery is next to impossible. Thankfully, some folks are just crazy enough to try.

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