Rogue Vine Super Itata Blanco 2016
Leo Erazo and Justin Decker started Rogue Vine in 2011 in Concepcion, Chile. Leo is also thewinemaker for Altos Las Hormigas in Mendoza, Argentina and Justin is an expat from Indiana whogot bit by the wine bug and started a family in Chile. At Rogue Vine, they make wines from the Nipas and Guarilihue subregions of the Itata Valley. All the vineyards are composed of hillside, dry-farmed bush-vines that are a minimum of 60 years old, with some older than 300. The soils are primarily composed of granite with a mix of clay and quartz. The winemaking is simple and employs native yeast, old barrels, no corrections, with minimal or no sulfur prior to bottling. Itata Valley’s viticulture is primarily practiced through horse plowing and hand farming. Part of Rogue Vine’s focus is to promote the rich culture and history of this long neglected and rural farming community.
The Rogue Vine is a project made up of amigos Leonardo Erazo Lynch and Justin Decker. Both had the wish of making different wines, wines with character. To achieve this, they had to find different vineyards, different terroirs, and to make them in a different way. The forgotten old Bush vines almost falling out of steep granitic hills in Itala was the perfect spot to start this project. Once the viticultural center of a new world colony in the 1500’s, the Itata hills nowadays represent a forgotten viticultural region in Chile. The fact that the vines here in Itata can live 60-120 years means something, that they have found a balance with the environment and with the vigneron. Vineyards were planted under dryland conditions, with the bush vine as a trellising system and in the steep granitic hills of Itata. These conditions remain exactly the same 500 years later. Itata is a place in Chile where the spirit of the true Vigneron exists.
The Rogue Vine wines are the results of looking at things from another perspective. Because in some moments you realize that without noticing you have getting to know yourself a little bit better, that you don’t want to do the same as others do, and that the option is to follow your own path, your own way even though it can be difficult, that day you become a ROGUE.
They make wine because it’s an amazing transformation, to take something so natural, so real and such a part of the earth and transform it into an amazingly tasty beverage, that is incredible. That it goes beyond just a liquid refreshment and is not only a part of conversation but the guide we sometimes need to push the conversation and experiences forward and beyond. They really don’t make wine, they help create stimulating conversations about friendship, love, sports, construction projects, and a plethora of other things, and who wouldn’t want a hand in that if they could?
One of South America’s most important wine-producing countries, Chile is a reliable source of both budget-friendly wines and premium bottlings. Spanish settlers, Juan Jufre and Diego Garcia de Cáceres, most likely brought Vitis vinifera (Europe’s wine producing vine species) to the Central Valley of Chile some time in the 1550s. But Chile’s modern wine industry is largely the result of heavy investment from the 1990s.
Long and narrow, Chile is geographically isolated, bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Andes Mountains to the east and the Atacama desert to the north. These natural borders allowed Chile to avoid the disastrous phylloxera infestation in the late 1800s and as a result, vines are often planted on their own rootstock rather than grafted (as is the case in much of the wine producing world).
Chile’s vineyards vary widely in climate and soil type from north to south. The Coquimbo region in the far north contains the Elqui and Limari Valleys, where minimal rainfall and intense sunlight are offset by chilly breezes from the Humboldt Current. While historically focused solely on Pisco production, today this area finds success with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Aconcagua region contains the eponymous Aconcagua Valley—hot and dry and home to full-bodied red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot—as well as Casablanca Valley and San Antonio Valley, which focus on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The Central Valley is home to the Maipo, Rapel, Curicó and Maule Valleys, which produce a wide variety of red and white wines. Maipo in particular is known for Carmenère, Chile’s unofficial signature grape. In the up-and-coming southern regions of Bio Bio and Itata make excellent Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.