The first Italian-Chilean joint venture has just been announced in Chile – between Marchesi Antinori and Chilean winery Haras de Pirque.

The wine, Albis, is a super-premium Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere blend which is expected to retail at around US$50 a bottle. Five thousand bottles have been produced from vineyards at the foot of the Andes in the Upper Maipo valley. The vineyards are high – 600m above sea level – which makes for a long ripening season and gives the grapes more natural acid balance and complexity.

Haras de Pirque – owned by former industrialist Eduardo A Matte and run by him and his son, Eduardo – produced its first vintage in 2000.

Matte senior said at the low end of the market, ‘Chilean wine is now a commodity. We want to show the potential of Chile to produce very good wines with uniquely Chilean character.’

Piero Antinori, who owns 1500ha of vineyards in Italy and produces 18m bottles a year described the venture as ‘a new beginning’. He stressed his desire to produce a wine which was totally different in style from his Italian wines.

Antinori’s head oenologist Renzo Cotarella, and Chilean star winemaker Alvaro Espinoza make the wine.

Currently, Antinori’s involvement with Haras de Pirque is limited to the Albis wine, but he confirmed they are discussing the possibility of extending the relationship to other parts of the business.

Written by Beverley Blanning