Satellite Wine Club, November 2019
Onda Brava - Rosado de Uva País, Guarilihue, Itata Valley, CL - 2018
Onda Brava - Cinsault, Itata Valley, CL - 2018
I don’t usually do this with our sweet little club, but this time I had to. I went all in. I was offered a rare opportunity, by a truly rare winemaker, and I took it!
Dani Rozman (pronounced Don-E) is a mystery. From New York, he fell in love with winemaking on a trip to South America while in college back in the late 2000’s. He found native winemakers doing things just how we like them: simple, natural, indigenously; he fell in love. He was taken under the wing of a few wineries across Mendoza, AR and Bío Bío in Chile, ever pursuing an education through hard, super hard work.
When Dani returned to the US he found himself a job with one of the foundational natural wineries in the US: Clos Saron in the Sierra foothills. He became the assistant winemaker there, living in a tent on the Renaissance Vineyard in the North Yuba County AVA, the highest (and most hardcore, straight up) of the Sierra Foothills wine regions. Yes, there was a bear living nearby and there were more than a few interactions.
Dani embraced the winemaking world, making wine with Clos Saron, his own label La Onda, and with his Chilean pal and winemaking legend Leonardo Erazo of the Argentinian Project Altos Los Hormigas… and many others. It just so happens that we’ve carried or lusted over almost every wine Dani has laid his hands on.
With Leonardo, Dani has found a Chilean reflection of himself. Like Dani, he has worked on tons of wineries around the world, has multiple collaboration projects, and cannot help but make great wines, full of life, adventure, and honesty.
Nowadays Dani makes the long trek to Chile for a few months each spring to work the harvest with Leonardo. They’ve been exploring a broad selection of vineyards in the Itata Valley where Pais and Cinsault reign supreme, and wines are still made from vineyards in excess of 300 years old. This is a place where traditional european winemaking has been interpreted and blurred into local indigenous tradition. Where the Spanish Conquerors and Missionaries came, conquered, converted, planted vines, and left. The wines of this place are duality manifested. Are they ancient styles reflecting the literally made-up methods of subsistence winemaking natives, or are they the bleeding edge of the modern-styled natural winemaking movement? Are they both? Yeah, probably! Maybe that’s just Chile. Maybe I’m in love.
What you need to know is this: Dani and Leonardo are both farmers at their core, only make wines which are farmed organically *AT THE LEAST*, they only ferment using wild native yeasts, add nothing to any of their wines aside from a minimal SO2 dusting before bottling, and they work with absolute minimalism in their wineries. Also, together they make alchemy.
I think this note from Dani captures the project of Onda Brava Well:
“Onda Brava is focused on the ancient, unirrigated and ungrafted vines in the hills of Itata. We are constantly exploring sites that highlight the granitic soil and maritime influence of the region, seeking wines with intensity and freshness. Our winemaking is very simple, utilizing traditional Chilean winemaking techniques while also seeking to produce wines that are new to the region. The wines are produced on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the town of Cobquecura.”
This wine is significant because it is simple, it is adventurous because it is indigenous, it is radical because it obeys ancient traditions, and it’s effing DELICIOUS <3 I think you’re going to love it.
Onda Brava - Rosado de Uva País, Guarilihue, Itata Valley, CL - 2018
This wine is an accomplishment. First things first: This vineyard is 150-200 years old. That is insane. I know of no more than a few individual vines in Europe over 150 years old, and yet, in Itata you can find them growing on the side of the road! It’s wild and it’s all thanks to a lack of something pesky!! What is Chile lacking? PHYLLOXERA!
(Drew… wtf is phylloxera?)Phylloxera is the worst ‘gift’ North America has given the world. A soil louse which can be found in nearly all the soils of North America, it specializes in chewing and sucking the sap from vine roots. Yeah, it wiped out winegrowing across europe in the late 1800’s. Fortunately our native vines are resistant to this little bugger and we now graft Vitis Vinifera (European Wine Vines) onto our resistant rootstocks… But I digress —> CHILE DON’T NEED NO ROOTSTOCKS. They don’t have Phylloxera and that’s really nice for us.
Back to this wine. It’s wonderful. I don’t generally recommend serving rosé at cellar temperature, ice cold generally does the trick, but this glorious wine deserves a slightly warmer service. It’s incredible how complex and open this wine is and icing it down and shooting it just doesn’t do it justice.
A sunkist orangey salmoney pink, with a slight creamy cloudiness, sits beautifully in the glass. Tart, orange citrus peels and exotic spiced pomegranate pop out of the glass straight into your face. The wine has a slight air of smashed granite dust and dry wild chapparal backing all that enticing fruit. On the palate I’m hit with crunch. The classic high acid of rosé, but layered with that same orangey citrus peel, a rosie floral quality, and salty, granitic rocks (with a few dried coastal herbs planted in it) washes across the tongue like a wave smashing on rocky shore. Is this poetic enough for you? How about this, my tongue delights in the persistent, significant texture of this lovely little beast, leaving me just enough lingering saltiness to require an immediate second sip. It’s straight sex appeal… and actually reminds me of a wine called “sex appeal”!
Dani has a little bit to say on this sexy little subject:
“We wanted to see if it was possible to make a rosado from país - the main challenge being that it's a low acid/high ph grape and a style of wine that has little precedent in a region with viticultural history going back to the 16th c. So most of our efforts are towards preserving freshness and maintaining the país character. The grapes come from a 150-200 year old vineyard with granitic soil, very close to the coast in Guarilihue. The grapes ripen very slowly given the cooler climate and are among our last picks of harvest. The owner of the vineyard is willing to work with us long-term and plow by horse rather than spray herbicides. We foot-stomp and immediately press in an old manual basket press. Fermentation and aging in a 1,500 liter concrete tank. This was the first vintage; the second is about to be bottled in Itata. We produce Onda Brava along with the wines for A Los Viñateros Bravos on a cliff overlooking the Pacific and a small fishing town known for crab and cheese empanadas. We snuck a fish and the name of the town on the back label for that reason, plus we are both obsessed with a 1970's Argentine rock band called Pescado Rabioso.”
Cheers, ya pescado rosado guisado muchacho. Just don’t chill me down too much bro!
Onda Brava - Cinsault, Guarilihue, Itata Valley, CL - 2018
Sometimes I just like to drink a particular wine all the time. That’s certainly the case with this Cinsault. Native to the mediterranean rim of Southern France, this grape is far from its origins in the pure granitic soils and chilly Chilean weather of Itata… and yet so very much at home.
Some 500 miles south of Santiago, Itata is special. The coastal mountains which run the length of Chile are smaller and cut up by the Itata and Nuble rivers here, allowing for the cold, southern pacific air to settle on the land higher and further inland. It brings water too, making Dry Farming a real possibility. Along with the wildly granitic soils in the region, the geography’s effect on the weather leads to happy Cinsault with higher acidity, a long ripening season for epic complexity, and insanely powerful mineral characteristics framed by the most delicately lovely florality. This is serious wine.
The wine in your glass looks beautiful. Its light intensity, purple hued ruby quality just invites you in for a drink, doesn’t it? On first sniff there is a bouquet of so much going on here. Flowers, Flowers, Flowers… red ones, blue ones, big ripe orange ones. Black plums and spicy little cherries dominate the fruit profile, and they keep getting more layered as it opens. Once again, smashed granite makes an appearance, it’s like this cinsault grown on the stuff! On the palate this wine is more. Firstly, all those tasty inviting flavors are present, and backed by a bit of that citrus rind lift. Pop, Fizz, Tannins! With plenty of acid, like a lot actually, and a rustic tannin that grips hard on the tongue, this wine commands attention. It finishes long, really long, with a persistence, and clarity that reminds me of some of my favorite Beaujolias wines. It’s that granite talking out again, and I welcome it all!
This wine will age well for decades, it also likes to be consumed quickly, right now.
Here’s a note from the winery, I love how Dani writes:
“The Cinsault is a bit more of a classic wine for the region with the distinction being the stem inclusion and aging in concrete. Just like with the País we've been looking for a sight with low vigor vines that could really express the intensity we were looking for. We foot-stomped the first of the grapes and then de-stemmed the other half on top of it with the zaranda, the traditional bamboo branches. We ferment in the open top wooden tank made from rauli (Chilean oak). This is the native wood that all the old tanks and pipas were made of back in the day before they were replaced with stainless steel and french oak. Leo found some old tanks and had them cut down into smaller sizes and refurbished by a guy who buys old wine tanks and turns them into jacuzzis. After pressing, the Cinsault ages in concrete.”
I don’t want a jacuzzi made from Chilean Oak. I NEED ONE. And I’ll fill it with Pais Rosado and Cinsault made by two friends who make, honestly, the most exciting wines in Chile.
I love to make my grammy’s chili
Filled with spicy nicey chilis
While glugging wine from Chilly Chile
With a cellar temp chill
It’s a thrill, if you will
So, spark up the grill
& Open your muzzle
It’s time to guzzle
Bring your bathing suit and your Chilean jacuzzi!
November is Chillin’ with Chile at Satellite.