See Los Vascos wines we sell
Grapevines were planted in the north of Chile in the 16th century, in the wake of Spanish conquistadors. Production expanded rapidly, and the country was soon exporting to Peru, challenging imported wines from Spain. The Echenique family, of Basque origin, planted vineyards in the Colchagua Valley around 1750. In the 19th century, the Echenique family participated in the dynamic expansion that took place at the initiative of a few pioneers who were inspired by the French model. In 1850, Miguel Echenique Tagle and his son Gabriel planted the first French grapes in the Cañeten valley. Chile’s production increased rapidly when phylloxera ravaged Europe’s vineyards. Chilean vineyard area went from 9,000 hectares in 1870 to 40,000 hectares in 1900. The first exports to Europe took place in 1877.
In 1947, Fernando Echenique Zegers organized and enhanced production at Peralillo. Its grounds were revived, the water supply and storage systems were created, and both cellars and cement tanks were implemented. These “Cañetenes” wines were bottled, and gradually became well known. The vineyards reached nearly 350 hectares of vineyards. The land reform launched in 1970 led to the revoking of property ownership, and halted progress. In the mid 1970’s, the Eyzaguirre-Echenique family again took over the destiny of the estate by purchasing most of the plots of land that had been otherwise distributed. New grapevines were planted, and an underground irrigation system was built.
In 1981, the estate took the name of Los Vascos, in honor of the original owners. The reintegrated property totalled 2,200 hectares, including 220 hectares of vineyards in 1988, when the Eyzaguirre-Echenique family passed control to the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite).
The pioneer ambition of DBR in Chile is the result of extensive research on the potential of local wines. Many properties were visited and many wines tasted before choosing Los Vascos because of its location near the ocean and its fabulous soil. Along with ideal weather conditions, Los Vascos benefits from intense exposure to the sun, adequate water sources, semi-arid soils, and little risk of frost. At 130 metres average elevation and just 40 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean, the microclimate of Viña Los Vascos has the perfect formula for producing fine wines.
Gilbert Rokvam, Château Lafite Rothschild Technical Director from 1983 to 1994, directed vineyard restructuring and a replanting program. Water sources are secured through drillings, and a weather monitoring station was installed in the vineyards. The bodega was enlarged and modernized through several steps, in order to provide for new requirements in winemaking and in ageing (stainless steel tanks, pneumatic presses and barrel chais). Work in the vineyard and in the cellar was also conducted to enhance quality, and new local management was implemented under the supervision of Claudio Naranjo.
Los Vascos now features a 560-ha vineyard in the heart of a 3,600-ha hacienda. It is one of the country’s largest single vineyards. The vineyard’s maturity allowed the line to be enhanced with Los Vascos Grande Réserve and Le Dix de Los Vascos. These vintages are very satisfying in their concentration and finesse.
A great vineyard in the process of maturing
Location : In a single stretch, the vineyard is located at 34°30’ in latitude and 71°30’ in longitude, at 40 km from the Pacific Ocean and 200 km to the southwest of Santiago. This is largest vineyard in the central Colchagua valley, at the foot of Mount Cañeten.
Area : 3,600 hectares, including 560 hectares of vineyards.
Soils : Soils of volcanic origin : the land is composed of clayish-sandy soils and granite soils.
Grapes : Cabernet Sauvignon (95%) and Chardonnay (5%).
Average age of the vineyard : Given the major plantings performed at the beginning of the 1990’s, the vineyard is divided between a group of 10-year old plots and another group of 40 to 50-year old plots. The oldest grapevines are 60 years old.
Management of the estate : The Operations Managers are Marco Puyo and Enrique Marquez. They are assisted by Christian Le Sommer, the Technical Manager of the foreign properties of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite).
The growing methods are traditional, and use of fertilizers and treatments is sparse. Irrigation, authorized in Chile, is practised according to the Californian method : by controlled flooding. As such, the property is ready to withstand phylloxera as naturally as possible, should it ever appear. Furthermore, experiments including limited drip irrigation, canopy management and green harvesting are conducted on the best parcels in order to satisfy quality methods.
Exigent winemaking and selection
Winemaking : The Chardonnay wines are made in low temperature tanks in order to conserve their youthful qualities and aromas, and are bottled soon after fermenting. Cabernet Sauvignon winemaking involves attentive monitoring of temperatures in the stainless steel tanks. Each parcel is isolated initially to judge whether it may become a Grand Vin after fermenting. Several tastings from each vat are then performed in July and August in order to ensure a very strict selection.
Ageing : The Los Vascos Grande Réserve and the Dix de Los Vascos are aged in barrels over 12 to 14 months. The ageing of the other wines is conducted in vats. The bodega has cellars containing over 1,000 barrels, some of which are made in DBR’s cooperage.
Production : The average production of Viña Los Vascos is 350,000 cases. Bottling of the entire production is at the Estate.