Chono Winery- Chile

This Thursday we will feature wines from Chono Winery of Chile, including one white and five reds. Chono is a micro-estate, or small, cutting edge producer, that produces “world-class wines from some of the most unique terroirs in the country. Led by two of South America’s leading winemakers and enologists, Alvaro Espinoza and Juan Carlos Faúndez, Chono too is the future of the Chilean wine industry, as producers move away their quantity-over-quality past to focus on Chile’s terroir strengths.”

Chono was founded in early 2000, with the intention of providing technical and commercial assistance to a select number of quality wineries. As years passed, they decided to make and bottle their own wines under the brand names Chono, Rayun, Cucao and Vilcun (all fall under Geo Wines). They believe that the key to their success is due to the close relationships that they have with producers, distributors, and customers; they ensure that quality and positioning are prioritized over volume. They produce and distribute a unique portfolio of unique wines from a number of Chile’s most exciting terroirs.

Quality and sustainable viticulture are the backbone of their business; they believe that this commitment of passion towards our earth and its soils expresses itself in the wine that they produce. The appellations from which they produce wines include: Elqui, Maipo, Casablanca and Limarí (2012). Each farm was carefully selected, allowing the different varieties to express themselves at their best with all of their varietal character and fruit potential. For the tasting, we will sample wine from the Elqui, Maipo, and Casablanca Valleys.

“The heart of Chono is in the Maipo Valley, the starting point of Chilean viticulture in the late 18th century. It is here where enterprising winemakers brought back vine cuttings from Bordeaux to plant in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, on alluvial soils not too different from those on the banks of the Dordogne [in Bordeaux]. Chono’s home base is the eastern side of the Maipo Valley called Isla de Maipo. Here the soils are sandy; vineyards sit between 1,800 and 2,000 feet above sea level; and temperatures are warmer than in more coastal areas, moderated by the cooling winds from the Andes. Red grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, not to mention Chile’s signature grape, Carmenère, thrive here.

Casablanca [Valley] has experienced a great growth in wine in recent years, which has resulted in the creation of appealing tourist circuits, restaurants and wine shops. The valley, located between Santiago and Chile’s major seaport, Valparaiso (recently declared a World Heritage of Humanity site) combines all the conditions to become a “must” for everyone who visits the country. It is a Valley transversal to the Chilean territory. It extends approximately 24 km long from the Zapata Tunnel to the Sanctuary of Lo Vásquez and covers a total of 22,000 hectares. The Casablanca Valley is part of the Coastal Range, a chain of mountain formed 180 million years ago. Therefore, the valley of Casablanca has positioned itself as the best valley in Chile and abroad for white wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and among the red wines, the Pinot Noir and cold weather Syrah.

The Elqui Valley is a wine zone located in the area known as “Norte Chico” and is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes of Chile that inspired the verses of Gabriela Mistral. The Elqui Valley, located 500 kilometers from Santiago, forms the northern border of the wine regions of Chile. Here the climatic conditions for growing grapes are excellent: A well-ventilated, dry valley, with annual rainfall of 130 mm. It also has an integrated irrigation system (large ponds connected by canals) and heavy soils, rich in nutrients and capable of storing water. This allows the harvest of ripe and sweet grapes, from which it is produced Pisco, Chile’s national drink and wine.”

Chono Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011– Maipo Valley, Chile. This Sauvignon Blanc comes from the sub-area of Tapihue in the Casablanca Valley, 25km from the Pacific Ocean. The influence of the Ocean provides ideal conditions for the production of a fresh, aromatic and unique wine. All of the grapes were hand-picked; after fermentation the wine aged on its lees in stainless steel with regular lees stirring (batonnage). The nose offers tropical and citrus fruits. It is pleasant and juicy on the palate with tangy flavors of gooseberry and lime within an acidic framework. “Bright and refreshing, this has subtle, delicate citrus flavors sustained by a balanced acidity distinctive of the Casablanca Valley. A light and fresh wine that offers grapefruit, kiwifruit notes, with a fresh citric and herb filled finish. Ideal as an aperitif or to be served with seashells and salads.” Tasting $8.99

Chono Pinot Noir Reserva 2010– Casablanca Valley, Chile. The Pinot Noir also comes from the sub area of Tapihue in the Casablanca Valley. The wine is aged in second- and third-use French and American barrels for 5 months. Light ruby in color. The toasty, inviting nose of smoke and cherry meets a juicy, tart and tangy palate. An excellent value! “This wine shows a delicate ruby red color. Its intense and fresh nose reminds of red fruits, enriched with spicy notes and chocolate. On the palate it makes a fresh entry with a very well balanced acidity. The soft and elegant tannins give a long persistent finish. The flavors range from raspberries to rosehip with soft spicy notes.” Tasting $10.99

Chono Carmenere Reserva 2010– Maipo Valley, Chile. Carmenere is the “hallmark” red grape variety of Chile. It comes from the Maipo Valley, were the complex structure of its soils and the template climate allow a slow ripening of the grapes. 60% of the wine aged in new French and American barrels for 12 months; the rest remained in tanks in order to enhance its fruitiness. It is bottled without filtering. Briary fruit, green pepper and spice notes are present on the nose. In the mouth it is medium- to full-bodied with defined fruit characters that carry into the finish. “This wine  shows a strong and deep ruby red color, with intense and outstanding aromas of red and black fruits, black spices, and a sweet vanilla complexity deriving from the oak. The palate lengthened and strengthened by ripe yet fine tannins showing a very nice balance with a good volume.” Tasting $9.99

Chono Cabernet Sauvignon Riserva 2010– Maipo Valley, Chile. The vineyards were planted around 1995. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Carmenere, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Syrah, and 2% Petit Sirah. The wine fermented in barrels (60%) and stainless steel (40%) then aged for an additional 12 months in barrel and stainless steel tanks. It was bottled without filtration then aged for 3 months in bottle prior to release. Its big, robust nose gives-off dark fruit scents of plum and blackberry with oak and sweet vanilla undertones. The palate is rich and mouthcoating with firm tannin and good balance. “A deep ruby plum color with opulent aromas of red and black fruits, spices, tobacco and sweet toasty notes deriving from the oak. Soft and creamy fruit on the palate, with good volume and medium body. This is a well balanced wine with soft and mature tannins, a nice acidity and a lingering finish.” Tasting $9.99

Chono Syrah Riserva 2009– Elqui Valley, Chile. This “Syrah comes from the Elqui Valley. Its semi-arid climate, moderated by a cooling breeze from the Pacific Ocean, provides a great environment for a cold weather Syrah.  This region is known for having one of the clearest skies in the world, which brings a very intense luminosity during the day, helping the vines on a more efficient photosynthetic process. 25% of the wine was aged in new French and American oak barrels for 5-6 months, while the rest of the wine was kept in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fruity aromas and the unique character of this region.” The ripe nose is filled with blueberry fruit and notes of chocolate and coffee. It is rich and ripe on the palate with juicy, delicious fruit flavors followed by a very complex finish, especially considering the price. “A Syrah so aromatically seductive you will have a hard time keeping your nose out of the glass! This wine shows a spicy nose with blueberries, a touch of regaliz and hints of tar. This wine shows a deep ruby red colour and a spicy nose with plenty of berries. Its structure is very well balanced with the softness of the tannins. An elegant wine with a unique personality.” Tasting $9.99

Chono San Lorenzo Riserva Estate Blend 2009– Maipo Valley, Chile. A blend of “the best plots of” 55% Carmenere, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, 10% Petit Sirah, and 3% Cabernet Franc. “Our Premium comes from the organically managed vineyards San Lorenzo , located in Isla de Maipo and is produced in very limited quantities, around 7.000 bottles, in years where the grapes are suitable to maintain its quality standard. Malolactic fermentation occurred naturally in 1-year old French oak barrels; the wine is aged for 14 months in the same barrels.” The deep, Bordeaux-style nose suggests plum, lead pencil, mineral, and rustic scents. It is firm on the palate with tannin and presents great balance and texture with briary fruit flavors that linger on the finish. “This is a big wine, savoury, with great intensity of fruit showing the kind of structure to suggest that there is plenty of life ahead it. San Lorenzo is a harmonious blend with great structure, very well balanced and captivating elegance.” Tasting $20.99

Chono Pinot Noir Chono San Lorenzo

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