It was not long after Chile gained its independence from Spain that brothers Bonifacio and José Gregorio Correa Albano founded Viña San Pedro. Humble beginning meant planting indigenous vines. After some success they were able to replace the indigenous varietals with classic European clones. Overtime, their vineyard plantings expanded to regions throughout Chile. Today, Viña San Pedro is one of Chile’s most important and widely exported wineries.
I’d like to shine a light on two projects of Viña San Pedro – one of passion, the other of fun.
In 1997, Viña San Pedro launched a premium brand to honor their humble beginnings while also highlighting Chile’s unique and diverse terroir – this is 1865.
“Our philosophy is based on creating each wine from the best possible terroir. Each 1865 wine is made from an emblematic variety grown in selected vineyards, managed in accordance with their particular soil and climatic features, to produce wines with unique personalities and consistent quality over time.” ~ Viña San Pedro
The 1865 philosophy is also one of innovation. Vineyard innovation includes constantly searching for new premium sites. Elqui Valley lies in the southernmost border of the Atacama Desert. The vineyards lie just 25 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean, the cool coastal climate, cloudy mornings, and 100 millimeters or annual rainfall make this an ideal region for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Seeking to express terroir in the 1865 wines, Viña San Pedro utilizes many forms of wine making processes and vessels. 1865 is “looking to craft wines that are more faithful of their origin and better express their variety” for inspiration. With this in mind, they have revived ancient practices such as the use of concrete eggs and fudres (large oak casks) for vinification purposes. Concrete eggs are being used in white wines as an alternative to second use French oak. For red wines, untoasted French oak fudres with 1,000 – 5,000 liter capacity are being uses to enhance the wines elegance and complexity without imparting oak flavors.
The 1865 line contains seven different wines, I tasted three.
2015 Viña San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Chardonnay ($14.00): This 100% Chardonnay is sourced from the La Chinchilla vineyard in the Elqui Valley. Fresh and fruity with notes of ripe tropical fruit, stone fruit, citrus zest, honey, and crème brulee. The palate is rich and round, texturally rich with balanced acidity. A third of the juice underwent fermentation in an egg-shaped concrete vessel, another third in foudres, and the final third in used oak barrels. Use Wine-Searcher to locate this wine.
2015 Viña San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir ($13): This 100% Pinot Noir is sourced from the El Platero vineyard in the Elqui Valley. A very fruity wine with notes of cherry, strawberry, cranberry, and raspberry, joined by white pepper, dried violets, and cedar. Fresh and smooth, round acidity, easy drinking. Aging took place over 8 months using foudres, concrete eggs, and barrels. Use Wine-Searcher to locate this wine.
2015 Viña San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Carmenere ($15.99): This 100% Carmenere is sourced from the Viña San Pedro vineyards in Pencahue in Maule Valley. Notes of cherry, black berry, pomegranate, green pepper, baking spice, dusty earth, licorice, and tobacco; full-bodied, youthful tannins, balanced, easy drinking. Aged 12 months in 90% French and 10% American oak barrels, 50/50 new and second use. Use Wine-Searcher to locate this wine.
Viña San Pedro’s newest project is 9 Lives. This project seeks to offer premium quality wines with elegance and finesse. The name honors the mysterious black cat that shadows their vineyards. 9 Lives Reserve uses the best nine grapes from Chile and Argentina.
Through its launch on Vivino, Viña San Pedro’s 9 Lives brand seeks to gain the attention of the modern wine drinker. They used the digital wine world to gain customer driven reviews before so called wine critics. It is an interesting approaching to launching a brand, speaking volumes to the power of digital wine apps.
“We went against the grain when we introduced 9 Lives Reserve in the US—it was exciting and unheard of. Over the last several years, a cultural shift has occurred in the world and we looked at how millennials consume and share information. This is a great brand and we wanted to explore how we could make the opinion of our wine drinker our first priority as we work to serve them.” Paulo Ramires, 9 Lives Marketing Manager
2017 Viña San Pedro 9 Lives Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Central Valley Chile ($10): Crisp and refreshing; bright aromas of citrus, stone fruit, lime zest, grape fruit; mouth puckering acidity; great sipper or pair with food. Use wine-searcher to locate this wine.
2017 Viña San Pedro 9 Lives Reserve Malbec Mendoza Argentina ($10): Intense with jammed black berry, cherry, black raspberry, with baking spice, black pepper, licorice, and candied violets; full-bodied, smooth on the palate, persistent and long. Use wine-searcher to locate this wine.
2016 Viña San Pedro 9 Lives Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Central Valley Chile ($10): Black plum, cherry, cranberry, black raspberry, cassis, baking spice, tobacco, trailing vanilla; full bodied, round, crushed velvet mouth-feel, balanced with a long finish. Use wine-searcher to locate this wine.