Rebels with a Cause
After five years, Movimiento de Viñateros Independientes – MOVI (Chile’s Movement for Independent Vintners), the association of small producers that raised the flag of winemaking on a human scale is consolidating the model of associativity, both in commercial and communication terms.
Kim Marcus, Wine Spectator critic, bids farewell to one of the winemakers from Colchagua after a lively and interesting wine tasting at Clos Apalta’s elegant winery. He jumps into the back of a truck and swiftly changes clothes. in more comfortable attire –shorts and sandals– he takes off to meet with Movimiento de Viñateros independientes (MOVI), leaving behind a few concerned representatives of Wines of Chile who are wondering where ‘the man of the despotic 100-point scale that can cause chilean wines to thrive or die’ will spend the night.
These two realities, these two chiles, as the British Neal Martin called them, have coexisted for 5 years, since a group of 12 small producers, most of them winemakers, decided to start their own movement, as far as possible from what they called a “slack, depersonalized, and technologized industry.”
This declaration of principles, or I should say war, caused so much turmoil that it still lasts. Not only did MoVi irritate the winemaking establishment when it dared to shout from the rooftops something many people would only mutter or discuss in private –you don’t air your dirty laundry in public, that’s one of our mottos–, but it also shook the monolithic, proud sector that so long ago merged Wines of Chile and Chilevid.
Although outsiders always win the sympathies of the masses, inside the industry as we insist on calling it, they only awakened suspicion. moVi leaders were at a crossroads: Either they aligned with wines of Chile or they widened divisions. “It’s true that at first we wanted to address the industry to get them to know us. That was the first two years. Many were mad because we would not be dressed khakis and a light blue shirt,” laughs Felipe García, director of MoVi and owner of García Schwaderer.
This movement that raised the flag of wine production on a human scale succeeded in updating the myth of David and Goliath, in proving that associativity is possible, and in fixing the name of their wines in the minds of local and international critics. “We were candid with our speech. it had enormous impact. We never thought we would raise havoc. There was and there still is unjustified fear from a traditional industry that generated an image of us that is not true, that portrays us like activists spray- painting barrels. We are not against the industry. We are building on the foundations they laid over decades. We are simply standing on the shoulders of giants. We want to work with Wines of Chile. Not against it. We are more interested in Chile than in our wines,” claims Sven Bruchfeld, winemaker and partner at Polkura.
To Bruchfeld, both structures can co-exist and boost each other. However, the problem, according to him, lies on mid-level officials and managers at wineries. “Maybe they care about Chile’s future as a category, but they are more concerned about short-term results,” he sentences. This urge, this pressure for selling, makes them mistrust every situation in which a Kim Marcus changes in the back of a truck and leaves to an unknown location.
Yet, after five years since its establishment, MOVI has a more forward and conciliating speech. This unruly, rebellious, and non-conformist image led to an association in the full sense of the word, with a consolidated commercial and marketing structure that no longer feels going against the flow but as a player that grants diversity to the industry that desperately needs new impetus to gain better positioning in world markets.
“MOVI is open to work with any and all. We want to contribute to make more of the chilean trade. sure many have spoken ill of us in hopes that their misrepresentation would be accepted as fact, but in truth we have not been negative, and we have only contributed. The trouble is some feel that in our efforts to make a space for ourselves, we are taking away a space of theirs. This just isn’t true. it is as if they still believe in zero sum theory (where every new bottle sale by winery a results in a loss of a bottle sale in winery b.) This is as preposterous as it is idiotic. We simply have to believe in a greater plurality within the trade. This idea that a select few “own the trade”, is being projected to visitors from outside with great aplomb all the time and it is asinine. It makes Chile look silly in front of the press”, explains Derek Mossman, a partner in Garage Wine Co.
THE VALUE OF ASSOCIATIVITY
At present, MOVI has 18 members and a few more are about to join. Their organizational culture is rather simple. unlike Wines of Chile, where wineries contribute and their level of influence is directly proportional to their
size or number of cases exported, MOVI has mostly a cooperative spirit. All members have the right to vote and activities are financed with member fees. “This is how we have evangelized the opinion leaders in the wine world, with more efforts than resources,” says Sven Bruchfeld.
Promotion activities, both in Chile and abroad, are set by agreement. Since our budget also has “a human scale,” they all take turns to organize tastings and promotional tours. “We have one tasting kit, and each member can present the wines of the other members as their own,” Polkura winemaker explains. This is how they have traveled the world, caught the attention of gatekeepers, and reaped recognitions as significant as the one reaped by Trabún, chosen Best Chilean wine in the last report by the Wine Advocate.
Participating at trade show or not, as well as commercial efforts, are decided individually. Each producer is left to its own devices, even if many of them share importers in some markets and supply portfolios as one single company. “MOVI learned early on that it was okay, in fact good business to share an importer with another chilean winery whether a MOVI or not. instead of wineries buying in liters (far from their specialty) to satisfy a customer’s need, why not find a winery that specializes in that kind of wine and work together to grow the category of Chile within the importers listings each with their one niche,” Derek Mossman explains.
To Felipe García, associativity is the key to the future. “It is a very tough process in a country that is not used to associations, mostly when resources are scarce. Even so, we have managed to reach where no one thought possible,” he states.
Courtney Kingston, owner of the namesake winery, admits that her life changed since she joined MOVI last year. She used to feel like an orphan in the wine world before. Now not only does she rely on a huge communication platform to promote her wines, but she also shares concerns and challenges with her peers, she receives commercial assistance, useful tips for wine input suppliers and ongoing technical and human support. “Now we do have a voice. it’s a whole new world,” Courtney says.
The human capital is MOVI’s largest strengths, that much is true. but, it may well turn into its greatest weakness. For the model to work, members need to be permanently motivated and willing to take turns as spokespeople or in promotion trips. This commitment to associative work is essential for the continuity and projection of the movement. “We have achieved much more than what we would have managed on our own. But we’ve not come of age yet. We can go to parties but we can’t buy beer,” jokes Sven Bruchfeld.
One of the achievements that have validated MOVI as an industry association and a legitimate speaker of the sector is certainly having sat at the so-called Wine Panel, where the agricultural and livestock agency (SAG) explores and coordinates the future regulations of this sector. “MOVI has achieved several things on behalf of all smaller wineries including a document of exportation with an unlimited expiry so one can take the 2-3 years necessary to sell a fine wine. This benefitted
all. Today MOVI is pushing for the recognition of more varieties previously without mechanism to be included by the SAG. In this way wineries wishing to work with less mainstream varieties can do so”, the Garage Wine Co partner explains.
Sven Bruchfeld adds that associativity is the only way to add value to Chilean wines abroad. However, for these projects to be profitable, risks have to be taken; you need to bet on innovation. “There should be more MOVIs, more Vignadores de Carignan, more Chanchos Deslenguados… I wish a group of winemakers would raise the Syrah flag… I wish somebody would start a Carmenère club… We no longer need to convince anybody of the implications of these movements and the huge contribution they can have to Chile’s image by showing a more real, more diverse, more attractive Chile!” he claims.
When MOVI made an entrance with its rebellious statement, it was certainly a breath of fresh air in an industry that felt rather numb. However, that discursive strength failed to translate into a characteristic of wines. some wine writers called for more daring and irreverent wines. Yet, as MOVI members would explain, the purpose of the movement is not to make natural, ancient or extreme wines. Their proposal is simply to make wines on a human scale, where winery owners take part in every step of the value chain, from growing of the grapes to sales. Under this concept, MOVI wines represent all the diversity of Chilean origins and styles on a small scale and present themselves with an original, casual, and appealing offer currently divided into three categories: The New Chile (wines originating in the new borders of Chile’s wine regions); Classic Reloaded (new versions of classic or traditional wines); Old is the New New (wines that rescue and project our valuable heritage of ancient vines).
THE NEW CHILE
Kingston Cariblanco Sauvignon Blanc 2012
This Sauvignon Blanc from one of the coolest areas in Casablanca is a wine of great stature and concentration of flavors. With outspoken citrusy and tropical notes and a grassy side that grants complexity and freshness, Cariblanco boasts enticing structure and acidity. A ripe but remarkably fresh and deep wine made with patience, precision, and ease. “We bottle late and launch late,” says courtney Kingston.
These producers decided they would make their own wine with the grapes grown in vineyards planted in 1998 in the Panquehue area, next to river Aconcagua. A juicy and frugal wine made the artisan way, away from commercial pressure. They don’t have a winemaker. The family makes the decisions and participates in the entire process. if they don’t sell the wine, they just drink it. life is good.
Starry Night Syrah 2011
This is a small project by the Atabales family in the María Pinto sector, on the foothills coastal mountain range in the Maipo Valley. Grapes are sourced from 8 hectares of Syrah and Pinot Noir surrounded by native woods. Produced with an artisan method, this Syrah boasts surprising light, juicy, and unconventional fruitiness. ripe, even liquorous, but well accomplished.
Winemaker Sergio Avendaño never worked for a winery. He devoted his life to manage the apple grove his family owns in Requinoa and to play drums. Until he decided to plant 1.6 hectares of Syrah to make a wine that has surprised everybody from the first vintage due to its strength and honesty. Notes of charcuterie, black fruit, and lots of pepper. Freshness, balance, and beauty. Trabún explores and manages to seize this variety in its purest state.
Polkura G+I Syrah 2010
A Syrah from a slope with south orientation, where it attains the freshest and most extroverted personality. With amazing aromatic strength and complexity, this vintage shows notes of black fruit, violets, and pepper in a harmonic blend. a juicy, structured wine, but very elegant at the same time. “It’s the best thing i’ve done in my life,” says Sven Bruchfeld.
Lagar de Bezana Syrah 2011
Located in Codegua, in Alto Cachapoal, this project by the Bezanilla family stands out due to the freedom with which the winemaking team works with varieties and styles, successfully crafting an increasingly fresh wine, free of the excessive oak of its earlier vintages. You can feel the winds that blow down from the mountains, shaping the personality of this Syrah of great fruit concentration and ripeness, but also of pungent, round acidity.
Tunquén Malbec 2011
Brazilian husband and wife winemakers Marcos Attilio and Ángela Mochi fell madly in love with Casablanca, where they have developed their passion for cuisine and delicate and pungent wines. Such is the case of this juicy, spicy, round, and deeply red Malbec from El Mirador. A wine fermented with no rush. A wine to fall in love with.
Clos Andino Le Carmenère 2011
José Luis Martin-Bouquillard, who worked at Veuve Clicquot, joined his friends Georges Blanck and Bertrand Couly to put all the elegance of the French knowhow to work and make a wine that would boast the typicity of the grapes grown in Curicó. The outcome was this Carmenère that graciously shows its red fruit without concealing its fresh herbal side. A ripe, juicy, and deep wine.
Angélica Grove and her husband Andrés Costa have turned Rukumilla into a family project in the broadest sense of the word. This red blend that originates in a few hectares in Lonquén, at the heart of Maipo, is a collaborative wine and the closest you can go to the natural concept. Red fruit flavors and earthy tones, some hints of oxidation that add complexity, all with a background of warmth and artisan wimemaking.
Many say the name of this wine should be Jen Hoover because of the critical role played by the wife of Tarapacá chief winemaker, Ed Flaherty, in this blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, which he handcrafted on his very backyard in San Felipe. The result? A wine that expresses the Aconcagua ripeness. Gentle and sweet. Tasty and round. A wine, let’s say it, made by two pairs of hands.
Villard Grand Vin L’Assemblage 2010
Thierry Villard was a pioneer. He founded the first modern boutique winery of associations Chilevid and Empresarios Vitivinícolas de Casablanca. Today, both this Frenchman and Charly, his hectic son, are an important part of MOVI. L’Assemblage sums up his philosophy very well. a wine that features five varieties, including a small percentage of Carignan, always looking for ripeness, body, and depth of flavors.
Von Siebenthal Toknar 2007
Led by Swiss lawyer Mauro Von Siebenthal, this boutique project based in Panquehue –called MOVI’s Concha y Toro half seriously, half jokingly because of the high volume of production, seduced the press from the beginning with the richness, concentration, and texture of its wines. Toknar, an outstanding 100% Petit Verdot, comes to consolidate its reputation. Heaps of black fruit, spices, and chocolate.
OLD IS THE NEW NEW
This undertaking by Tuscan count Francesco Marone Cinzano in the Maulean dry-farmed areas always has nice surprises in store. This time, it does so with this blend of Barbera from Cauquenes, Garnacha from Empedrado, and Carignan from Melozal. A minimalistic, juicy, and fruity wine, with no barrel aging to preserve its typicity, freshness and powerful acidity.
Meli Carignan 2012
This project by winemaker Adriana Cerda and her children expresses the character of the Maule dry-farmed areas with all honesty. This powerful wine of wild flavors comes from a little over 10 hectares in Loncomilla where Carignan vineyards planted in 1949 can be found. Deeply rustic and delicious.
Gillmore Merlot 2008
The Gillmore family is a pioneer of Carignan production in Chile. This variety responsible for re-writing the future of Maule’s dry-farmed areas, shares the terroir with other varieties that take in the character of local tradition. This firm, powerful Merlot showcases expressive notes of black fruit, spices, and wild flowers. Great things can be expected from this Merlot crafted by winemaker Andrés Sánchez.
Garage Wine Co Lot 28 2010
Pilar Miranda, Derek Mossman, and Álvaro Peña joined forces in Garage Wine Co, a ‘terroirist’ project without complexes that seeks to express faithfully and candidly the fruit from its vineyards. Based in Maipo Alto and the drylands of Maule, their wines are honest and tasty, like this remarkable Cabernet Franc dominated by notes of blackberries, flowers, herbs, moist earth and a mineral touch that heightens complexity and emotion. Certainly one of the best Cabernet Franc in Chile.
They share their lives, their love for good food and good wines, and the passion for winemaking. Winemakers Constanza Schwaderer and Felipe García made their debut in 2006 with Facundo, the family’s first wine. This red blend of Carignan from Maule and Cabernet Sauvignon from itata, plus some Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, represents their calling for making concentrated, lively, but deep wines that call for gourmet meals.
Although Pajarete is one of Chile’s most ancient appellations, production remained local, at the very heart of the Huasco Valley. However, this sweet, Muscat-based wine is brought back to life, like the phoenix, by producers like Armidita. With a more modern twitch, but keeping the fresh flavors of its white fruit and flowers, this wine is both a heritage and a grand finale for any event.
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