What is your labor of love? For me, being a parent can be a labor of love. I don’t think there is anything else I do that is more important than stewarding my kids into being respectful, responsible, intelligent, philanthropic contributors to society. It is a role and a responsibility that comes, at times, with challenges, and endless rewards. There are times, I admit, where writing this blog is a labor of love. Some days I am tired and my creativity runs dry, but I keep myself on a tight deadline and the stories behind the wine, as well as the wine itself, offers inspiration. For Ritual Wines in Chile, crafting high quality wines while caring for the environment is their labor of love.
“Ritual is a labor of love. It connects us to the land we farm, to healthy living soil, and to the daily rituals of artisanal winemaking.”
Ritual is the Huneeus family’s original, flagship estate. It is located on the extreme eastern edge of the Casablanca Valley in Chile. Due to this location the vineyards are heavily affected by the cooling efforts of the Pacific Ocean and the Humbolt Current. The 800-acre property is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Chilean Coastal Range, and surrounded by 6,000 acres of protected, native forest. It is an ideal location for crafting cool climate wines, similar to Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley.
“Crafting fine wine is steeped in Ritual and grounded in terroir. We endeavor in creating beautiful wines that are a reflection of this special place.”
I was recently invited to participate in Charles Communication’s #BrandLive virtual tasting #RitualLive featuring Ritual’s wine maker Rodrigo Soto and three of Ritual’s wines. It was a highly educational tasting as Rodrigo shared his passion, vision and insight into Chilean wine making. If you would like to watch the tasting here is the link: http://cca.yourbrandlive.com/c/ritualwines2015releases
Rodrigo Soto is currently working on converting 100% of the Huneeus family’s vast vineyard holdings to becoming fully organic, and eventually biodynamic. After the 2016 harvest Ritual will receive its organic certification. Rodrigo abandoned fertilizer for the exclusive use of compost; sheep help mow the grass and act as natural fertilizer. Additionally, cow dung is a key component to the compost. The use of their own compost not only feeds the soil but promotes a balanced and self-regulated ecosystem. The use of cover crops and seeding further promote healthy soil. A final key is the use of native fermentation; Ritual has not used commercial yeast since 2012. Rodrigo’s philosophy behind biodynamics and composting is simple, “One must die to let the next generation live.”
“We believe in letting the vines connect with their environment over time, this is the art of crafting exceptional wine.” – Ritual Winemaker, Rodrigo Soto
Ritual wines are terroir driven wines based on the minerality of soil’s decomposed granite. Rodrigo works closely with legendary consultant Paul Hobbs and terroir specialist Pedro Parra to craft wines with a true sense of Chilean (Casablanca Valley) time and place. Charles Communication explains, “His goal – to offer the clearest, and most complex, expression of the vineyards’ diverse terroirs by naturally making the wines form vine to bottle. There has been ample critical acclaim for Rodrigo’s winemaking already, though he has only been back in Chile for the past 4 years.”
Rodrigo carries his philosophy of minimal intervention from the vineyards into the cellar. He believes in crafting wine with a gentle hand and the revival of Old World winemaking techniques. All grapes are hand harvest in small batches in the cool mornings, double sorted, hand punch downs during fermentation, basket pressed, only native yeasts are used, and use different containers that deliver unique characteristics.
The three wines we tasted were incredibly appealing and challenge one’s conceptions of Chilean wines in terms of quality and value.
2015 Sauvignon Blanc: soft gold; lively bouquet of stone fruit, citrus zest heavy on the lime, passion fruit, melons and white floral notes; like a glass full of spring; round, mouth-coating acidity, fresh and lively on palate; long, mouth-watering finish; fermented in neutral oak, stainless steel, and concrete egg; all used to create an expressive and textural mouth-feel; SRP $17.99
2015 Chardonnay: light gold; subtle aromas of orchard fruit, quince, nutmeg, and toasted cedar; creamy texture, lively flavors, rich on palate with layers of flavors; salty acidity, with a mouth-watering finish; fermented in 20% concrete egg and 80% neutral oak; SRP $19.99
2015 Pinot Noir: deep ruby; milk chocolate covered cherries in a glass; red berries, savory herbal notes, touch of nutmeg with a spicy finish; great earthiness; round acidity, well-integrated tannins, tastes older than its age; restrained style, elegant with a pleasing finish; big nose, light on the palate; crafted with a variety of clones and partial whole clusters; SRP $19.99 One of the best <$20 Pinot Noirs I have ever had.
All three wines were not only delicious to myself and my husband but were solid crowd pleasers to all the wine writers included in the virtual tasting. I highly recommend you visit the Ritual web site to learn more about the winery, view their entire portfolio of wines, and use their wine finder to locate these wines near you!
Finally, Rodrigo Soto is an impressive wine maker. His wine making skills and philosophy are evident in the glass. I think Kimberly Charles summed it up best when she said Rodrigo is the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” of wine. He is a martial arts wine maker using his knowledge and skills to know exactly when and how much to intercede and when to leave the natural process alone.
“We believe in minimal intervention and making wines with authenticity and a real sense of place.”
My Song Selection: If you have not had wines from Chile yet Ritual is a great place to start. If you have had wines from Chile you will want to add Ritual to your list! They are amazing!
Get your own bottles of Ritual wines and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!