Named after the Tara salt flat in northern Chile, in the world’s driest desert, the immense Atacama, where just 20mm of rain fall each year, these wines are a triumph of determination. The area is influenced by the nearby Pacific Ocean and every morning the land is blanketed by the coastal fog known as the Camanchaca, which offers a brief respite to the sun-baked landscapes of Northern Chile. With this unique geography and in the absence of coastal mountains, the winds blow directly from the ocean to the vineyard, transforming the otherwise desert climate into a cool, quasi-Mediterranean climate.
The extreme climate and unique soil composition was the inspiration for this project by Vina Ventisquero, moving Chilean winemaking further north than ever before. Ventisquero’s chief winemaker, Felipe Tosso says: “Tackling this terroir has been a steep learning curve. What we have created breaks all the paradigms of what has been produced in the Central Southern valleys of Chile.” The soil here is calcareous as is the case in many of the world’s best vineyards but in Chile is only to be found north of the Limari Valley. However, these soils are also uniquely harsh: their salinity restricts the growth of the vines, added to which is the high salt content of the irrigation water. Indeed the first vines planted here unceremoniously died. New vines were planted on their own roots instead of opting for salt resistant rootstocks. The three Tara wines come from a single 4.5ha vineyard situated 22km from the Pacific near the town of Huasco at the southern end of the Atacama desert. Showing every effort to allow the character of this extraordinary place come through into the glass, winemaking is kept as simple and unobtrusive as possible at every stage: hand-harvesting, whole-bunches, native yeast fermentations, no additions of sulphur dioxide until bottling, stainless steel or neutral oak vessels. Tara gets not one but three winemakers: Felipe Tosso himself along with Sergio Hormazábal and Alejandro Galaz. Felipe Tosso adds: “Tara is an experience that is out of the ordinary. I don’t know of any terroir in Chile like this one, so extreme, which is why these wines are so different. These wines reflect the Atacaman identity”. This is an extraordinary trio of wines, unlike anything we have come across before.