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Less is More

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes lying on a beach is a more enjoyable getaway than visiting an ultra-modern metropolitan city. Sometimes a baguette and cheese is more satisfying than a posh meal in a 3-star restaurant. Sometimes sleek, minimalistic Japanese design is more appealing to the eye than gaudy architecture. And sometimes untrelissed, unsprayed, dry-farmed bush vines make more beautiful and expressive wine than those where every detail of the winemaking process was scrutinized and watched over. And if this approach is true in the wine world, no one seems to be able to do it better than Leonardo Erazo.

I liked his wines immediately. I liked them way before I knew about him, his process, or the way he finds the vines and grapes he uses to make his wines in the Itata Valley in Chile. I had tasted two wines made from the varietal Cinsault several months apart, one from A Los Viñateros Bravos, and one from Rogue Vine. They were both smoky, earthy, elegant, yet quite different from each other. Only later did I discover the same man was responsible for both.

For being a minimalist, Leonardo has somewhat of a traditional background, graduating from the University of Chile for agronomy and enology. He then traveled the world, studying soils, winemaking, and biodynamic agriculture, before returning to his native Chile to make his own wines. Under several labels, Leonardo is creating an array of wines from vines grown on granite and volcanic soils, either buying grapes from traditional farming families that dry farm and never fertilize or chemically spray their vines, or making wine from his own vines following the same principles. Native yeast fermentation with no adjustments and minimal SO2 is followed for every cuvée.

Under his own label, Leonardo is producing wines from extremely old vines. La Resistencia is made from Chile’s historical grape, Pais, from 180 year old vines on a minuscule 0.2 hectare vineyard. The nose is layered with ripe Bing cherry, cranberry cocktail, earth, and a nuance of spice and smoke. The palate is light bodied, with a soft, velvety texture showing great elegance. Equally as expressive, the Piel De Arcilla Cuvée Especial is 175 year old vine Moscatel with skin contact. On the nose, dried apricots, trumpet lilies, cantaloupe, and over-ripe banana perfume the glass, with a palate showing light tannins and spice. Bright acidity prickles the tongue and eventually gives way to a round, lush texture. Only 400 bottles are produced!

Food pairings with similar characteristics meld perfectly with this wine, like Moroccan-style braised chicken with dried apricots and toasted almonds. The play of flavors and textures bounce off of one another, and harmonize to become one angelic melody.

With such beautiful results from the idea that less is more, maybe taking this philosophy into our own daily lives is what’s needed. Disconnecting from our phones and media, reconnecting with those who mean the most to us, and enjoying the simple things in life, we can all benefit from a more substantial and positive outcome. If it works with wine, maybe it works with people too.

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