FLEUR + TERROIR = FLEUROIR
As with our previous innovations, Amphoir and Barroir, in which we brought together elements native to the Millahue Valley that work together naturally with our wines—the clay of the terroir and the ancient oak trees, respectively—in this new project VIK has been searching for a compound term to describe the incorporation of native flowers.
Our drive to go one step further and explore the connection with native flowers emerged from a desire to instil more flavours and natural layers in the wine. And so, we returned to the land, to VIK’s 4000-hectare private park, to investigate elements that would lead us to the native yeasts that are present throughout this Millahue Valley estate,” explains Cristián Vallejo, VIK Head Winemaker.
To bring these wild yeasts from the four corners of the property, flowers were the best means of transport. The yeasts are different from those present in the grape clusters, and that difference allows us to obtain more layers of flavours as the yeasts pass through the different stages of fermentation and secondary aromas develop.
We also turn them into dried yeast that can then be applied in the vineyard at different phenological stages during the growing season to combat Botrytis blight and the silent taint of Brettanomyces. And finally, developing and isolating the VIK yeasts allows us to instil particular flavours into our musts.
HARVEST OF COLOURS
In late November and early December, the VIK winemaking team went out to harvest native flowers from plants, bushes and vines in the valleys and ravines of Millahue to discover if they could find more flavours by exploring parts of the property with no vineyards, meaning the 90% that is in its natural state.
This means that the 10% of the land planted to vine—which includes six sub-valleys, six rootstocks, 62 types of soil, countless angles of exposure and different altitudes—coupled with the cold wind that rushes up the valley from the Pacific Ocean, give rise to the five varieties of grapes and 22 clones that go into the work that VIK wishes to show the world.
As a result of our explorations, explains Vallejo, “we have found two yeasts that are different from those already present in the clusters. We discovered them through a study we conducted with the Universidad Católica de Chile and a technical laboratory specializing in winemaking processes.”
Then a new question emerged: How can we bring these new yeasts into the winery to apply them to our musts before or during fermentation?
Learning from the work of chefs Pablo Cáceres (Vik Chile) and Rodolfo Guzmán (Boragó), who both use edible flowers in their dishes, the VIK head winemaker explains, “We realized that the flowers’ physical properties and sugar content meant that they accumulated more yeast naturally, and that became our way of conveying them to the winery.”
Later on, we had to figure out how to store the yeasts until harvest time the following March, and so with the help of VIK’s Executive Chef, we began to dehydrate the flowers naturally using the sun’s energy to keep those yeasts latent and intact until the moment when they needed to be reactivated to participate in the vinification process.
The 2022 vintage was the first time that we incorporated fleuroir into emblematic varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Cabernet Franc. We believe that the complexity of these wines, combined with their elegance, finesse and expressiveness, will make them the perfect tribute to this innovative proposal.