Have you noticed the heinously hellish heat the past few days? The average high is at 37°C! Admittedly, it’s gotten so bad that I haven’t been drinking as much wine as I normally would (it’s just too hot). In fact, I have carefully transferred our beautiful reds in the darkest, coolest spot in our apartment.
While I’m not a full-fledged environmentalist, I have read so much literature that links bizarre weather phenomena to lousy environmental practices. Since I’m a beverage writer, I’m not the best person to discuss sustainability, but one of my favourite vineyards on the planet, Caliterra, can put it in a better perspective.
As the people of Caliterra put it, sustainability is based on a simple principle: “Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations. Sustainability is important to (make) sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.”
Their name is a reflection of the sustainability concept. Caliterra is the result of the fusion between quality (“calidad” in Spanish), and land (“tierra”). The name means to express the passionate friendship among the pure nature of its terroir, its sustainable viticulture philosophy, and its Chilean roots in the traditional Colchagua Valley. “Thanks to initiatives born of respect for nature and creativity, you can achieve oenology in harmony with the environment and the conservation of native species, and also produce better wines, it is like returning the hand to the nature”, said Mario Oliva, Viticulturist and Head of Sustainability. All this may be a lot to grasp and may leave one with the notion that it is such a somber business. While maintaining the earth’s balance thus ensuring our future (and making good wines while that’s being done) is quite a serious necessity, I would like to reassure people that it could be fun. While humans are tasked with the aforementioned task, the fact that they are an essential element to the equation of a fabulous environment is the best part to have fun with.
Take the people from Caliterra that welcomed me during my visit, for example: Rodrigo Zamorano (Chief Winemaker), Mario (from whom I got the quote from), and Veronica Steinbrugge (Comunications Manager). These people were so much fun and incredibly warm; they let me get away with thinking about them as “Modern Hippies Making Wine” (with a bit of a warning from Rodrigo as to how their communications department would react). They are also the quintessential examples of Chilean hospitality, making me feel like a part of their family.
Okay, so taking care of the environment does not make a person so grim. This brings us to the most important question, though: How are the wines?
As we went through the different wines they had, they realised I had sufficient humour and technical knowledge to (jokingly) make me work for my wines (don’t worry, they fed me after). They made me do an assessment of their B, M, and A wines.
Here’s a cheat sheet for the non-wine specialists: The B is a blend of Bordeaux grapes, M is a blend of Mediterranean grapes, and their wildcard, A, is a blend of signature grapes from either side of the Andes (Carmenere from Chile and Malbec from Argentina).
Caliterra’s portfolio culminates with Cenit (Spanish for zenith), which takes its name from the highest point in the sky. It is a combination of the best grapes obtained in the estate. Caliterra’s Tributo and Reserva lines are gorgeous and are a must-try as well. In conclusion, while making beautiful bottles of wine is a wonderful thing, it is also important to keep ourselves in check and make sure that we are doing the best we can to keep the earth (and its population) happy. We only have one planet. Climate change is a reality, as evidenced by the heat wave we have been going through (and rains in May).
The Alpacas are watching you. 😉 Cheers!
Caliterra is available in Titania
Special thanks to Ms. Paula Piña of Caliterra for the additional resources