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Vina Siegel Crucero Chardonnay 2013
His father, Don Germán, was a viticulturist that spent most of his career in charge of Viña San Pedro's vineyards near the town of Molina, 140 miles south of Santiago. There Alberto grew up, literally in the middle of the vines. It was not a surprise when he decided to study Agronomy and specialize in winemaking at the Universidad Católica in Santiago.
After finishing high school, he spent a year working in wineries in Germany, and upon his return in 1971, he joined the German company Bayer. His job was to sell fertilizers to farm owners in the Colchagua area, 100 miles south of Santiago. Through this job he got to know almost every land owner, most of which were grape growers and wine producers.
A few years later and as a natural consequence, he started to act as a wine and grape broker, selling the production of small owners to the big Chilean wineries. He established Sociedad La Laguna, and he soon became the most important Chilean broker in this field, a position that he still holds today. There is hardly any Chilean person or company involved in the wine business that has not dealt with Alberto Siegel at least once.
In parallel, and together with his father, Alberto founded Viña Siegel in 1980. They started planting vineyards in Colchagua and building the Winery in Santa Cruz. When Don Germán died in 1998, Alberto became the owner, together with his family. In the beginning, Viña Siegel only sold bulk wines to the biggest Chilean wineries, like Concha y Toro, San Pedro and Santa Rita. In 1997, Alberto decided to enter the bottled wines business and made the necessary investments to go ahead with this project.
Well-regarded for intense and exceptionally high quality red wines, the Colchagua Valley is situated in the southern part of Chile’s Rapel Valley, with many of the best vineyards lying in the foothills of the Coastal Range.
Heavy French investment and cutting-edge technology in both the vineyard and the winery has been a boon to the local viticultural industry, which already laid claim to ancient vines and a textbook Mediterranean climate.
The warm, dry growing season in the Colchagua Valley favors robust reds made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Malbec and Syrah—in fact, some of Chile’s very best are made here. A small amount of good white wine is produced from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.