Chile has by far the largest average winery size of any wine producing nation, and until recently capital was so very definitively in the hands of a small number of powerful families that remarkably few winemakers were able to set up on their own (Alvaro Espinoza was an early exception to this rule). To us visiting wine writers they seemed to be on a perpetual merry-go-round, moving from one big company employer to another, presumably graduating to a slightly higher salary each time. But things are changing in Chile. Last summer a small number of particularly committed small-scale wine producers banded together to gain some critical mass. Thus was MOVI, Movimiento de Viñateros Independientes, formed - the Movement of Independent Vintners in English. MOVI members did pretty well in the Wines of Chile Awards 2010 that we announced here. See details below.
Its members claim to guarantee uncompromising quality and are apparently chosen only after extensive tasting. I am told by Derek Mossman Knapp of Garage Wines that the other requirements for membership of MOVI are that they should:
- be small and quality-oriented
- make wine personally, on a human scale
- craft wine to reflect a particular vision, beyond origin and terroir, which are givens (vision in most cases means previous experience in a Chilean winery)
- not be a Fortune 500 company, nor an economic group, and no patrons of convenience are allowed
- have no promotional or marketing people at tastings, just owners or winemakers who are intimately involved in production
- have patience and 'the capacity for irreverence where required' (nicely put).
When a winery is accepted, it has to invite all other MOVI members to their winery. 'MOVI members know other MOVIs personally, and also know and believe in each other's wines', I am assured.
MOVI's 12 founding members (there are now more) have widely differing histories and come from more than half a dozen wine-making countries. 'We are steadfast against homogeneity and insist Chile is anything but stock and standard. Give us some time!' It is notable that many of them are taking advantage of the old-vine fruit available in up-and-coming Maule.
The current members of the Movement of Independent Vintners, MOVI, are:
Bravado Wines Winemakers Felipe García (ex Kendall Jackson and Casas del Bosque) and his wife Constanza Schwaderer (ex Veranda and Agustinos). Their first wine is Facundo (bronze award), a Bordeaux-style blend made with Carignan from Maule but they garnered even greater acclaim with their Marina Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca in this year's Wines of Chile Awards. Part financed and imported into the UK by Naked Wines.
Clos Andino A French/Chilean project based in Cachapoal specialising in Cabernet Sauvignon.
Erasmo/Reserva del Caliboro A Tuscan–Chilean joint venture with Count Francesco Marone making a Cabernet blend, also from Maule.
Flaherty Ed Flaherty made some celebrated wines under big company auspices in the 1990s, notably Viña Errázuriz, and is still chief winemaker at Tarapaca, but this is a tiny-production, family enterprise specialising in an Aconcagua blend of Cabernet and Syrah. Wines are imported into the UK by Boutique Wines of Chile in Amersham.
Garage Wine Co Canadian–Chilean project making a high-altitude (900 m) Cabernet in Alto Maipo and a dry-farmed old bushvine Carignan from south of Cauquenes. All the wines are hand made in small lots, usually in less than 5,000-bottle lots. Silver award.
Gillmore Andres Sanchez and his wife Daniella Gillmore make Cobre, a Cabernet blend, and Hacedor de Mundos, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Carignan, and Merlot. - all 100% dry-farmed in Maule. This winery won multiple awards at this year's Wines of Chile fest. Available via www.laithwaites.co.uk
Hereu Odfjell winemaker Arnaud Hereu makes one wine, a Cabernet/Syrah/Carignan from Maule.
I-Latina San Pedro winemaker Irene Paiva and her family make a Syrah and Carmenère from Cachapoal.
Montsecano Photographer Julio Donoso and Andre Ostertag from Alsace are responsible for this biodynamic Pinot Noir from Casablanca.
Polkura Ex Santa Carolina winemaker Sven Bruchfeld (one of two Master of Wine students in Chile) is responsible for this Syrah-based project from the hillsides of Marchigue, the western end of the Colchagua Valley. The proprietors are the Bruchfeld and Muñoz families. Bronze award. Available via www.laithwaites.co.uk
Rukumilla Andres Costa and family make 4,000 bottles of an organic Cabernet/Syrah blend sold exclusively locally.
Sigla Cecilia Guzman, winemaker at Haras de Pirque; German Lyon, winemaker at Perez Cruz; Jose Pablo Martin, winemaker at Tamaya; and French ex-patriate winemaker Pierre Viala are responsible for this Cabernet/Syrah from Alto Maipo. UK importer is Boutique Vintners of Beaconsfield.
Tipaume Only 2,000 bottles of this organic Syrah/Cabernet blend are made by French winemaker Yves Pouzet, who owns this with his family.
Von Siebenthal A former Swiss lawyer who recently took up residence in Panquehue owns this outfit that makes various Carmenère, Petit verdot, etc blends in the Aconcagua Valley. Imported into the UK by New Generation Wines.
For more information on MOVI, including tasting notes on current wines and an interesting interview on the topic (including the news that two members have already been fired from their day jobs) and a description of how they have been received by the mainstream Chilean wine industry, see Alder Yarrow's account here on vinography.com.