Viña El Principal's oenology develops starting with the vineyards. The wines are exclusively processed with grapes grown on the lands, where the vineyards are continually studied as to their physiology and their relation to the terroir, in order to identify and perfect the best plots and thus obtain top quality raw material. Harvesting is carried out entirely by hand, with controlled production and the sorting of clusters both in the field and later in the wine cellars. This is followed by a careful traditional Bordeaux vinification process and ageing in French oak, resulting in the inimitable character of these wines capable of reflecting the elegance and identity of the terroir.
CHIEF WINEMAKER GONZALO GUZMÁN CASSANELLO
Chilean winemaker Gonzalo Guzmán has led the enological team as Technical Director of Viña El Principal since 2005. During this period Guzman’s quest has always been the same: to achieve the purest expression of the terroir by promoting the personality and uniqueness of each of his wines.
Under his direction, El Principal has slowly evolved from a Cabernet Sauvignon- Carmenere blend to a more sophisticated and elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. He has also made fine adjustments to the winery’s Memorias and Calicanto wines to increase their freshness and complexity.
In his passion to discover what this terroir is able to produce, Guzmán has planted new Spanish varieties such as Verdejo, Albariño, Graciano, and Mencia with great success. In 2014 Viña El Principal launched Kiñe, the first New World Verdejo wine.
CONSULTANT PATRICK LEON
The renowned Bordeaux consultant Patrick Léon, who joined the Viña El Principal team in 2006, has been crucial in the winery’s purist approach to winemaking. His talent and unparalleled experience in producing high quality wines has established him as a consulting winemaker for some of the most prestigious wineries in the world.
Patrick was the Technical Manager of Château Lascombes Crus Classé in Margaux and Château Castera in Lesparre-Médoc, and he also spent two decades as the Managing Director for Baron Philippe de Rothschild, where he oversaw the company’s vineyards and winemaking facilities for Château Mouton Rothschild, Clerc Milon, Le Petit Mouton, Aile d’Argent, Opus One in California, Almaviva in Chile, Domaine de Lambert and Domaine de Baron’arques in the Languedoc, and Mouton Cadet in Bordeaux.
The winemaking process starts with a harvesting entirely by hand and sectorized. Later, also by hand, in the wine cellar and on a vibrating table, the best clusters are selected before entering the de-stemmer. An optical selector is used to pick out the best fruit. The grapes are raised to the upper part of the tanks to achieve gravity flow filling and thus avoid the use of a pump.
Later, cold maceration (between 8 and 10ºC) takes place for 5 days, followed by the start of the alcoholic fermentation which is prolonged for 8 to 14 days at a temperature fluctuating between 28ºC and 30ºC, with gentle manual remontage according to the concentration and maturation of the grapes. This ensures a gentle and controlled extraction.