“Our work in the Aventura Winery will allow us to innovate at speed” and help it “be at the forefront of future trends.” It’s a bold statement and an impressive ambition but one that leading Chilean producer, Morandé Wine Group, has made possible by investing in and building a new state-of-the-art winery equipped with the latest vinification technology and ageing vessels – from concrete to qvevri – so that it can both develop its own ideas and brands, but also be a “one stop solution” for projects and opportunities for potential customers around the world.
Andrés Alvarado, export director for North America & Europe for the Morandé Wine Group explains why the Adventura Winery is potentially a breakthrough for the Chilean wine industry.
Can you tell us about your new Adventura (Adventure) Winery and what you hope to achieve?
Our new Adventura (Adventure) Winery is a modern winemaking facility located in Pelequén in the Cachapoal Valley that’s dedicated to innovation – the culmination of a project that expresses the pioneering and enterprising spirit that Viña Morandé has always been known for.
It’s equipped with some of the latest technology to experiment with new varieties, test innovative fermentation and aging vessels, and try out new techniques to create wines capable of driving the Chilean wine industry forward.
Designed by the renowned architect Samuel Claro, the Adventura Winery blends its architectural beauty with the local landscape. It’s been embedded deep into the soil of the vineyard to minimise impact on the landscape, and to benefit from the use of gravity. A gravitational winery cares for the grapes, while also allowing for significant energy savings. Furthermore, the winery’s open spaces, large windows, and glass walls, maximise the use of natural light.
Our work in the Aventura Winery will allow us to innovate at speed and continue delivering a comprehensive range of interesting wines that suit the needs of today, while also anticipating and being at the forefront of future trends.
We’ve built our business to be a one stop solution for customers and we’re striving to be recognised as Chile’s most innovative wine producer. Our goal is to be a true partner to our customers by offering the most complete and innovative wine offering showcasing the very best of what Chile has to offer.
What is the inspiration behind setting up a separate winery from your usual branded business?
Morandé has a pioneering history in Chile, most notably including the “discovery” of the Casablanca Valley as one of the best terroirs for growing Sauvignon Blanc and other cold-climate grape varieties.
Innovation is in our DNA and continues across every step of the winemaking journey. The Aventura winemaking facility embodies our long-standing passion for exploring and by setting up a winery solely dedicated to experimentation, we can take our innovation capabilities to the next level.
From the day we started, we have built our business to be different. Always with a respect and desire to show the very best of what Chile has to offer but delivered through the lens of innovation. We’re not afraid to challenge what is expected from a Chilean wine brand, which includes trying and failing – because only then do we learn.
Can you give some examples of the sort of projects you expect the Adventura winery will be able to handle and work on?
Various wines from our Vitis Única range are already being crafted at the Aventura winery, as well as all the wines in our Morandé Adventure portfolio. These nine wines are produced using a range of the new features in the winery like cement eggs, inverted eggs, buried amphorae, open-topped oak tanks and foudres to deliver wines with greater fruit characteristics, balance and expression.
We plan to use the winery to create new wines for our Morandé Adventure portfolio, and there will always be space for us to work on other wines outside of this portfolio in the future.
What sort of customers and channels of the market are you hoping to work with?
In the UK, we’re looking to partner with multiple retailers across the on- and off-trade. Our ability to serve as a one-stop solution is particularly beneficial to these retailers and the diverse consumer needs they’re looking to satisfy.
We have low alcohol options (a delicious Sauvignon Blanc at only 8% ABV), lesser-known varietals for Chile, premium wines at more accessible price points, unseen products like Wine Beer (a non-traditional beverage using hops and yeast) and a natural-flavour apple wine, bulk wine, different packaging formats (20 litre kegs and 250ml cans) and of course the traditional favourites that people continue to love from Chile.
You have invested in new technology for the site – what specifically have you invested in and why and what sort of wines will it help you make?
We’ve invested in a range of technology that is allowing the enological team to experiment with new varieties, test fermentation and aging vessels, and explore new techniques with the aim of continuing to deliver authentic, one-of-a-kind wines capable of driving the national industry forward.
This includes a range of ageing vessels including truncated conical tanks, cement eggs, and open-topped oak tanks and foudres, as well as ceramic tanks, inverted eggs, buried amphorae, troughs, Oxoline barrel structures and Clyver ceramic vessels.
These are all designed to extract maximum potential from every grape variety we vinify and allow the wines to acquire greater expression of fruit, elegance, and balance.
Do you hope to be able to do more bespoke, exclusive and own label work for key customers to then strengthen your ties with them for your branded wines?
Absolutely; scalability is important to continue delivering growth. By offering a one-stop buy solution, we’re able to create meaningful value to key partners around the globe.
We’ve also invested in a new state-of-the-art bottling facility where the focus is not on bottling speed, but the speed of setup changes – allowing us to have different products produced and bottled in similar time periods.
Where are your biggest markets in the world?
Today we are strongly focused on the UK, China, Brazil, and the USA.
We are also very interested in what is happening in emerging markets such as Canada, where we are growing strongly with a very high average price, as well as countries like India, which is opening up to Chilean wines and where there is enormous growth potential.
Which countries and types of customer do you think will want to work with you at Adventura?
Our Adventure wine range, produced at the new winery, is crafted for customers looking for something new and interesting. These are therefore likely to resonate best with multiple retailers across the on- and off-trade in mature wine countries with a higher consumption per capita of wine.
In terms of consumers, these more experimental wines are likely to appeal to 35- to 55-year-old men and women who are more advanced in life in terms of disposable income and wine-knowledge.
We’re able to work flexibly with retailers to address a wide range of customer needs and trends. If consumers are cutting down, we have low and no options. If they’re looking to experiment, we have more unusual varietals and products to explore. If they want to stick to their favourites, we have the best of what Chile traditionally has to offer. If they want something completely unseen before, they can try our Wine Beer and if they’re interested in new formats, we have everything from 20 litre kegs for wine by the glass, to cans, bulk wine and lighter glass bottles.
This, combined with access to some of Chile’s best vineyards and exceptional wine making talent, means we’re uniquely placed to bring the best of the traditional and the progressive to create Chile’s most innovative wine offer.
Do you hope to use the learnings and experience you have making wine at Adventura to then help you make better and more relevant branded wines?
The process of experimenting in the new winery will certainly generate greater knowledge and understanding that can be applied across the entire portfolio to continue delivering authentic, interesting and one-of-a-kind wines.
What sort of price points do you think your Adventura will be making – a range of prices?
Typically, between £18 – £25.
How do you see the Chilean wine market at the moment – what are the big trends?
We see three key opportunities; the exciting renaissance of Chilean País, growing consumer interest in different regions and styles of wine and the incredible quality and value for money Chilean wines offer – particularly at the premium end.
What styles of wine are most in demand and where you are putting most of your emphasis?
Consumer preferences have been moving toward fresher and fruitier styles of wine for some years now, which is helping to drive interest in Chilean país. First brought to Chile in the 16th century, it produces high-quality lighter and fresher fruit styles of red wine.
Our Cinsault-País Terroir Range Wine is proving particularly popular and has been recommended by Decanter as a New Word ‘Value Gold’.
Any new areas of Chile that we need to be looking at in terms of regions but also styles and grape varieties?
In less than 10 years, the Chilean wine industry went from being concentrated in the central zone (primarily Maipo and Rapel) to spreading throughout the length of the country. We went 1,000km from north to south and from mountains to the sea to explore climates with shorter summers in the south, those with more light in the mountains, and those with coastal influence, as well as granitic, volcanic, and calcareous soils.
Malleco, in the heart of Araucanía, represents one of Chile’s most extreme valleys for exploring and producing wines. It’s a new wine frontier in Chile; an ideal terroir for high-end chardonnay and pinot noir that delivers a different style compared to other outstanding origins.
We’ve created two outstanding and award-winning wines from this region; our Morandé Black Series Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which are unique in style – marked by elegance and verticality on the palate. Our Morandé Chardonnay Black Series (RRP £17.99) is now available in Majestic and scored 95 points in Tim Atkin’s 2022 Chilean Wine report.
We’re also looking to tap into growing consumer curiosity and appetite to try new and different wines, which includes exploring and experimenting with newer varietals for Chile like cinsault, carignan, garnacha and sémillon, as well as lessor ‘globally’ known varietals like país. Plus, we’re experimenting with varieties well-suited to our climate, like grenache and cold-climate expressions of malbec, syrah and cabernet franc.
Our goal is to create the purest expression of Chilean terrior from each, as already seen with our Morandé Terroir wine range. It offers lighter styles of wine from Itata and Maule, some of which combine traditional Chilean grape varieties with softer Mediterranean ones. In fact, we’ve just secured our first major supermarket listing in the UK with Morandé Terrarum Patrimonial Sémillon 2021, which is now available in Waitrose (stores and online).
As mentioned, we’ve also been focussed on crafting wines from other less common varietals in Chile like carignan and grenache. We’re also seeing success with these having recently had our Mancura Guardian Carignan 2018 listed in Laithwaite’s.
Are you looking to work more with alternative formats and packaging at Adventura – if so what?
We’ve already introduced alternative packaging formats into our offering with The Applicant range, which includes a Sparking Rosé and Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc available in 250ml (13% ABV) cans. We’ve also introduced 20 litre kegs for our Reserve wines as a more sustainable way for the on-trade to offer high-quality wine by the glass.
Our Adventura Winery will certainly help us to further accelerate our work around new packaging formats.