Four Musketeers discovering a new terroir
My first viticultural challenge was in Chile with Viña Aquitania that I created in 1990 while I was still at Cos d’Estournel.
The southern hemisphere with its inverted seasons could enable me to make wine twice a year.
Like all the ventures I have gotten involved in, Viña Aquitania is a team’s project.
We are four partners, four friends, four agronomists.
Felipe de Solminihac is the local partner who runs the daily operations at Viña Aquitania. Paul Pontallier, General Manager of Château Margaux was with me from the start. Ghislain de Montgolfier, then President of Champagne Bollinger, joined us in 2002.
Under the influence of the Bordelais wine experts of the time, Chile started growing Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1890’s in the Maipo Valley.
That is where we decided to set up our operation, on a hill at the footsteps of the Cordillera to benefit from the cool nights typical of this terroir.
Unlike the giants of the Chilean wine industry, we have chosen to build a small traditional-looking cellar whose architecture and proximity to the city of Santiago both attract many visitors.
If the Maipo Valley is perfectly suited to Cabernet Sauvignon, it is too hot to grow Burgundy varieties.
Hence, we decided to search for new terroirs south of Chile at latitude comparable to New Zealand’s North Island.
As far as 650 km from Santiago at 38°S of latitude, we discovered a remarkable terroir in Traiguen, the Malleco Valley.
From the first vintage, in 2000, our SOLdeSOL Chardonnay was acclaimed “best white wine of Chile” and we now have great hopes for our Pinot Noir planted in 2003.