If the organic winemaking movement were to elect an official spokesperson, I predict that the talented and charismatic Noelia Orts would win by a landslide. A native of Spain, 36 year-old Noelia leads the winemaking team at the single largest source of estate-grown organic wines in the world - Emiliana Organic Vineyards in Chile. When asked why wine should be produced organically, Noelia replies with a smile, "Why not?" Her deceptively simple response actually raises some very important issues. Ideally, wouldn't we all prefer to sip wines that were produced without dangerous chemicals that harmed the environment and the workers?
Emiliana Vineyards was founded in 1986 by Chile's Guilisasti family and they began transitioning to organic methods in the 1990's. Fully committed to producing excellent wines with only organic grapes, Emiliana also produces super-premium wines using biodynamic principles. The 2003 debut vintage of their Gê wine marked the release of South America’s first ever certified biodynamic wine. In 2015, Emiliana was honored as "Winery of the Year" by Wines of Chile. Noelia works in partnership with consulting oenologist Alvaro Espinoza to develop the wines in the Emiliana portfolio. From what I tasted, it is a successful partnership. I found the Emiliana wines that I sampled to be vibrant, expressive, and fruit-forward.
Coyam ($34) is a delicious introduction to the Emiliana winemaking style. A beautiful and balanced blend of Syrah, Carmenere, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre, and Petit Verdot; Coyam is both graceful and structured. When blended together, each varietal's unique attributes create something truly special. Coyam displays luscious flavors of blackberries and strawberries with a hint of spice. Coyam means oak in the language of the Mapuches - the indigenous inhabitants of Chile. Ancient oaks surround the Emiliana vineyards where these biodynamic grapes are grown.
Watch the video to hear Noelia's definition of organic and biodynamic winemaking. She also describes the flavors and aromas of Coyam and suggests food pairings, including magret (duck breast) and pasta.
Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, Gê ($95) is not fined or filtered and rests another 12 months in bottle prior to release. A big and balanced blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere, it is complex but not aloof. With impressive acidity and rich berry flavors that are enhanced by touches of cedar and minerality, Gê has well-rounded tannins. Gê comes from the Greek and means tierra (earth).