Meet the producer: Roberto Henriquez
Based in Nacimiento, Bio-Bio, Chile - with some vines in the Itata Valley. He farms around 6ha; some vines are over 200 years old. Grapes are Pais, Muscat, Corinto (Chasselas) and Semillon. After working in vineyards across the world, Roberto set up on his own in 2015 (he is a busy chap as he still has a day job working as an organic consultant).
6 hectares, Organic, non-certified
COUNTRY, REGION, SUBREGION
Chile, Bio-Bio, Nacimiento
A native of Concepción, Roberto – largely inspired by his Uncle - has always dreamed of making wine. He studied to be an Agronomist and Enologist, then worked for large commercial wineries in Chile, South Africa and Canada.
Returning to Chile, Roberto spent some time with Louis Antoine Luyt, and this experience - along with working with producers such as Mosse in France (Loire) -helped change his perception of wine.
The Bio-Bio region (close to where Roberto was born) is, in his view, the most unspoilt place to make wine in Chile. The old farmers work traditionally, having never used chemicals. However, the Chilean culture doesn’t pay much importance to historic winemaking, and he felt he had to do something to try and keep tradition alive.
While also working as a wine growing consultant, in 2015 Roberto started his own project, working with traditional methods and old vines. He is now building his own winery. Roberto farms 3ha spread across 4 parcels which are close together in the mountains - Cordillera de Nahuelbuta. He then buys fruits from friends close to Nacimento.
In Bio-Bio, there is considerable soil diversity between plots. Vine-training height also varies - Riveira del Notro at 1m high, and the Santa Cruz de Coya vines lay very close to the ground. It’s a cool-climate region, with a cool spring, summers in the early 30s, and quick transition from Autumn to Winter. Southerly latitude plays a massive part, as does the mountain topography (lots of small hills, vines situated on inclines); maximum altitude is under 400m.
Pipenos is the traditional winemaking style of Chile - manual destemming, gentle crushing of grapes and punch downs, only using Chilean wood, short macerations. Whites with skin, traditional method.
Pais has a naturally low acidity; it’s a complex grape to work with in cellar. It has strong in vines which work very well for organic agriculture. It has dry rustic tannin and can be very green so you need to be gentle.