In 2016, Chile's Matetic Wine Group purchased an obscure but modern winery in the Colchagua Valley, one of the country's most renowned wine regions. Matetic, true believers in organic and biodynamic farming, did two things to move the needle for the TerraPura winery: hired a new winemaker, Felipe Vial, and enlisted the services of Napa Valley winemaker Bob Pepi as winemaking consultant.
Pepi brought a trove of experience in South America to the task, having served Argentina's Valentin Bianchi as a consultant for more than a decade. The TerraPura project is aimed at value consumers. The wines are "line" priced at $11.99 each, and I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Pepi and taste four of the 2018 releases: a Sauvignon Blanc, a Carmenere, a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon.
What struck me most was the clean, fresh delivery and fruit purity. None of the wines were barrel-fermented, though nuances of wood spice emerged because of the use of barrel staves during the winemaking process.
Pepi, who has his own label, Eponymous, that sources grapes from a number of top vineyards in Napa and Sonoma, favorably compares the terroir of Chile to California.
"I consider Argentina somewhere between Bordeaux and California, but with a little more fruit than Bordeaux," Pepi said. "Chile is more like California with its diversity of soils and climate, and the wines have plenty of fruit."
The Sauvignon Blanc, from the Valle de Curico, was bright and fresh with notes of grapefruit.
The Pinot Noir, from the cooler Valle Itata, offered notes of cherry and spice and impressive persistence on the finish. Pepi is especially proud of the Pinot.
"I'm pretty excited about this," he said. "I don't think you can touch it for the price." Indeed, tasty Pinot Noir for $12 is a rare and beautiful thing.
The Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon, both from the warmer Colchagua Valley, are fresh and pure, with the Carmenere delivering slightly more weight and richness than the Cabernet, though each is distinctive in its own way.
Chile has long been known for tasty wines at value prices, and TerraPura does nothing to change that equation.
Follow Robert on Twitter at @WineGuru