CellarVie Meets…Viña Errazuriz winemaker Francisco Baettig

CellarVie Wines are this week focusing on the wines of Chile and with that in mind, we were fortunate enough to catch up with Viña Errazuriz winemaker Francisco Baettig, to discuss the 42-year-old’s winemaking philosophy, his desire to produce wines that reflect their origins and his love of football…

Describe yourself and your attitude to Winemaking in three words…

Passionate, questioning, ironic

Briefly describe your wines…

Pure, fruit-driven, intense

Describe the Viña Errazuriz philosophy and your approach to winemaking…

I like my wines to show their roots, their place of origin. In that sense the winemaker’s role is one of guardian – preserving and respecting the heritage of the winery and at the same time allowing the vineyards to express themselves.

I strive to make wines that showcase the positive characteristics of the new world; fruit purity, intensity, freshness. I aim to make wines that have finesse and balance, elegance and complexity and looking for purity of fruit.

What do you want people to remember about your wines?

The wines I make today, I’d like it if they remember the wines as neat and polished, where the fruit plays a big role. For the wines I’m working towards, I hope people remember those wines as elegant wines with character, personality and finesse.

What wines are Viña Errazuriz responsible for making?

Viñedo Chadwick, Seña, Errazuriz ‘iconic’ wines – Don Maximiano, La Cumbre and Kai – Errazuriz Speciality wines and our Max Reserva range. I also oversee the making of our Arboleda and Caliterra wine ranges. [to see all the Viña Errazuriz wines stocked by CellarVieWines click here

How did you get involved in the winemaking world?

Throughout my career I have participated in vintages in France in Languedoc-Roussillon as flying winemaker for Michel Laroche, in Pomerol at Le Bon Pasteur, and in Sancerre at Chateau de Sancerre, reputed for its white wines.

I lived, worked and studied in France for two years when I was carrying out a Master’s Degree from the Faculty of Oenology at the University of Bordeaux (Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieurs Spécialisées).

I have also worked in the United States at Hallcrest Winery, one of the first organically certified wineries in California, also in Argentina for a year, and I have been on numerous technical visits in New Zealand, France, Italy, Australia, Argentina and United States.

In Chile I worked for Viña Tarapacá, Viña Santa Carolina and Casa Lapostolle before joining Viña Errázuriz.

What are your main passions outside of wine?

My big passion was planes. I used to be a pilot but now my biggest passion is family. I love travelling, reading and going to the stadium to support my favourite soccer team, Universidad de Chile.

If you didn't make wine what would you do?

If I had the talent I would be a writer. If I had the balls I would be a pilot in Africa working for Médecins Sans Frontières or some other humanitarian program.

What is your favourite meal?


Aside from your own, what other wines do you enjoy?

I’m a Francophile. I worked and studied in France and my wife is French; therefore guessing what are my favourite wines is not too difficult! I have some wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Alsace. I also love Barolos and Brunellos and some wines from the south of Italy like Fiano. I’m a big fan of Spain. I always buy some late-harvest wines from Alsace and Jurancon and icewine from Canada.

I’m a huge champagne lover, so every time I go to France, I bring as many bottles home as I can. I owe a big debt to the Loire and Rhône. From the New World, I follow and like some specific producers, including Jordan in California, and Yalumba and Peter Lehmann in Australia. From Chile, I have sauvignon blanc, carmenère and cabernet sauvignon, mostly.

Where is your favourite place in the vineyard to sit down quietly and enjoy a glass of wine?

The top of the hill in Max I vineyard

What events does the vineyard get up to over the Christmas period and the rest of the year?

Perhaps more so than in other parts of the world I have lived in or visited, Christmas is a time for family. The winery is shut for a good deal of Christmas. Of course Christmas is our summer in Chile, and so we always try to spend as much time as possible at the coast for at least some of the Christmas break.

Then of course we are getting ready for vintage which usually starts in February after Christmas.

Describe a day in the life of Francisco Baettig...

I’m up at 6:30am and like a total zombie. Having had no breakfast, I drive to Panquehue (80kms north of Santiago). I’m at the winery by 8am and answering e-mails until 9:30. Then there is a review tasting of certain wines with my winemakers team before we take a 30 minute lunch.

Tasting with a bunch of journalist from UK is swiftly followed by a meeting with my winemaking team. I usually take a call from the Managing Director or Eduardo Chadwick before answering e-mails until 19:30.

I drive back to Santiago and usually arrive home at 20:30, pat my dog and put my daughters to bed. I have dinner with my wife and organize the agenda for the next day. A little bit of reading is followed by …zzzz...at around midnight.

Viña Errázuriz has been producing the highest quality Chilean wines for more than 130 years. As an estate winery, Viña Errázuriz strives to produce the finest wines by controlling every stage of the winemaking process, from grape growing in the Aconcagua, Casablanca and Curicó valleys, to winemaking with the most natural techniques. 

CellarVie Wines stock 30 wines from Chile. To view them click here


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