Arboleda Pinot Noir 2016

Arboleda Pinot Noir 2016, 13.5%, Chile

(£18-20 for the 2015, Loki, Surrey Wine Cellar, Bonafide Wines or globally via Wine Searcher)

Arboleda is the sister brand to the better known Errázuriz label, which are both based out of the Aconcagua Valley north of Chilean capital Santiago.

And, just like Errázuriz and its Francophile winemaker Francisco Baettig, Arboleda is making great headway with one of the world’s most challenging, but potentially rewarding grape varieties: Pinot Noir.

‘People don’t know Chile for its Pinot Noir,’ asserts Arboleda winemaker Emily Faulconer – a Chilean of English extraction. ‘But we’re changing fast, and it’s our duty to go and tell people around the world about this, and show them we can do it.’

Her passion, like that of Baettig, is well placed. Chile is indeed starting to produce world class Pinot Noir – Baettig’s Las Pizarras is a case in point, even if it does boast a price as ambitious as its vinous aims (£70+). Faulconer sources her Pinot from the same area as Pizarras – Aconcagua Costa, an area I re-visited in early 2016 and was hugely impressed by the potential of the terroir, the work being undertaken and the resulting wines, particularly the Pizarras 2014 and 2015.

This wine has a similarly scented purity and a vivid, cultured, elegantly energizing style. On current form, it stands head and shoulders above the rest of the Arboleda range (only the Syrah comes close). Faulconer took a risk in drastically lowering production and focusing only on several key vineyards to make this wine – a departure from the 2015 vintage (which is the one currently on sale – this 2016 isn’t due to hit the shelves until July). Given the excellent result, her brave decision is more than vindicated.

If Chile is going to make a success of its Pinot Noir, it needs to prize terroir and quality over sales volumes. Because the results can be hugely exciting. Not to mention delicious.

(Peter, 7.5-8/10, March 2017)