Chile’s TerraNoble: a big commitment to Carmenere

For the sheer thrill of it all, there may not be as much fun for a Media tour writer-participant than putting orange gloves on and getting your hands around grape-cluster-cutting sheers in a vineyard that’s only 18 kilometeres to the sea in Chile’s Casablanca valley. That’s exactly what our group sponsored by WineBow did on day one of our trip.

The intent of TerraNoble is to be recognized as one of the best Carmenere producers, and to develop new products based on this variety.

TerraNoble (  has a Santiago address but sources its wines from many valleys. “We own vineyards located in the best valleys in Chile,” noted Francisco Matte V, Executive Director of TerraNoble. “Where we don’t own vineyards, we have long term agreements in place to source grapes from specific areas that add value to our wines, for example, in the Maipo valley.”

The growing season is 230 days, and the vineyard we visited is 70 hectares. To demonstrate the soil, Francisco has had a deep trench dug with clear glass on one side.

Like other growers in Chile, labor is an issue as they compete with mining and construction (particularly post-the-2011 earthquate!). Frost is an issue in the valley, and capital investment in towers to force cold air up from the ground is heavy; each tower protects 7 hectares.

The winery produces all single vineyard wines, 2 million bottles of them, and like most Chilean wines, the alcohol is low. The day we visited the slopes of the Casablanca Valley, it was a relatively hot day. This, after all, is cool climate winemaking. On March 19, 2012, it was the hottest day of the year so far, and that meant 80 degrees F on average.

In the tasting room
The Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011 that we tasted reflects this coolness. These grapes were harvested at night. “We like the edgy style of this wine. You can feel the acidity,” noted Gonzalo Badilla A., the company’s Asia & America Export Manager. (The winery exports to 17 different countries at the present). This Sauvignon Blanc had aroma of grapefruit, and taste was grassy and with a minerality. The wines are produced from a free run of the juice after maceration, whcich gives them nice texture and a great freshness. 13 percent alcohol, retails in the US for $11.99

Outlook from new visitor center
 TerraNoble presented a 2010 Pinot Noir for tasting. It’s similar in style to a Russian River (California) or Marlborough (New Zealand) pinot, with flavors of cherry, and a nice light and fresh taste. 13.5% alcohol, retails in USA for $13.99.

We also tasted our way through their Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc blend and a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon that has a touch of Syrah for additional complexity.


But now for the Carmenere, because, after all, this is where I started to learn to love its chocolately, earthy taste! Gonzalo noted that this is a variety that is relatively new for them, and the first export was done in 1997. We first tasted the Carmenere 2010, which has a deep color, a silky style, soft tannin and a good texture. A bit of acidity – but then acidity in wine is important for a wine you’d drink with food. 13.5% alcohol, and $11.99 USA retail price.

The Carmenere Andes 2010 is a new project for TerraNoble. The vines for this wine were planted in 2008 in the Colchagua Valley, a warm climate foothill region of the Andean range. TerraNoble has worked with the label design to give a sense of a rolling mountain range. 14.3% alcohol, $13 USA retail.

The Carmenere Costa 2010, also sourced from the Colchagua Valley, shows influence from the coastal clime of the vineyards from which it is sourced. It is spicy, with more tannin. 14.2% alcohol.

The Grey Carmenere 2009 sourced its fruit from a single block. It is earthy, herbal, redolent of black fruit, and with a touch of smoke or leathery. 14% alcohol. $20 USA retail. This is my pick of their Carmeneres.


Other new projects from TerraNoble are their Lahuen labels.

The Lahuen Red Label 2008 has a Carmenere base, with Syrah and Grenache . It’s an interesting wine, with pepper, mint and a bit of frizzante at the side of the tongue. 14.55 alcohol. Soon in the US market; price still being considered.

The Lahuen Blue 2009 is 80% Syrah and 20% Merlot, and very tasty. My pick. 13.% alcohol. Soon in the US market, price still being considered.

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