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January 31, 2020
New Producer Alert! Cacique Maravilla
Manuel Moraga Gutierrez is the owner and winemaker of Cacique Maravilla, a winery focused on traditional and non-interventionist Chilean wines in Yumbel in the Bio-Bio Valley of Chile’s Southern Regions. Manuel is the seventh generation of the Gutierrez family to call Yumbel home, and at least the fourth generation to tend vines. His great, great, great, great, great grandfather, Francisco Gutierrez Gutierrez, arrived in Chile in 1750 from the Canary Islands in search of gold and eventually amassed enough treasure to acquire land in Yumbel, some of which has remained in the family and is still owned by Manuel Moraga today. Francisco Gutierrez earned the respect of the local indigenous Mapuche people and was given the nickname ‘Cacique Maravilla’ (roughly translating to ‘Magnificent Chief’).
Although the Gutierrez family has been tending vines in Yumbel for generations, Manuel is the first to bottle and sell the wine under his own label, instead of selling grapes and bulk wine to other larger producers as his predecessors did. The 16-hectare estate consists of old, pre-phylloxera vines (some well over 100 years old) of País, Moscatel de Alejandria, Torontel, and Corinto. The volcanic vineyards are completely dry-farmed with no irrigation, no chemical intervention, and minimal pruning. In the winery, Manuel is similarly hands off. Fermentation is always spontaneous, the wines are never filtered, and no sulfur is added.
Tragically, Manuel’s first vintage coincided with the February 27, 2010 earthquake in Chile, one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history. The winery and much of their machinery were completely destroyed in the earthquake. Manuel still managed to make wine that year with practically no means at all. Content with the outcome of that first year, he realized not much was needed to make wine and this has been their philosophy ever since. He has spent the last ten years slowly rebuilding while making honest, rustic wines that evoke a crystal clear sense of place. As Manuel says, “One day I want good, trained sommeliers to taste my wine and say ‘This wine is from Yumbel, Chile.’”
Cacique Maravilla 2019 ‘Gutiflower’ White Pet Nat, Bio-Bio Valley
Sparkling wine is not traditionally made in Chile, but Manuel’s father stumbled upon the Pet Nat method that the winery continues to use to this day. This wine is best served very cold! Before serving, chill wine with the bottle resting upright so sediment settles to the bottom of the bottle.
Cacique Maravilla 2019 ‘Chacoli’ Rose Pet Nat, Bio-Bio Valley
The name chacolí is a reference to the process in which the wine is made, very much like the txakolis of old in the Basque Country. Serve very cold with apertifs and desserts.
Cacique Maravilla 2019 Vino Naranja (Orange Wine), Bio-Bio Valley
An orange wine of 100% Moscatel de Alejandria. Skin contact lasts 2 months in open vats of Raulí (native Chilean pink oak) without any punchdowns or pump overs.
Cacique Maravilla (1 L) 2019 Pipeno, Bio-Bio Valley
Pipeño is an old style of Chilean wine that was produced in a simple manner and meant to be enjoyed by farmers straight from the “Pip” or pipe. Cacique Maravilla makes this 100% País Pipeño that honors traditional winemaking in the Bio-Bio Valley from which it comes. This light-bodied wine shows red fruits with great acidity and balanced tannins. Serve slightly chilled. Anything less than a liter is not enough!