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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 great values in bold 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. Here, hundred-year-old vines are juxtaposed with cutting-edge technology in both the vineyard and the winery, and French investment has been a boon to the local viticultural industry. The textbook Mediterranean climate makes winegrowing almost effortless.
The warm, dry growing season in the Colchagua Valley favors robust reds made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Malbec, and Syrah. A small amount of 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’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based 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. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.