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Thinking Outside the Grape: The Success Story of William Fèvre

If Burgundy is an insular place, Chablis is even more so, making it all the more unusual that famed winemaker William Fèvre would look beyond his small, sleepy hometown all the way to Chile to produce wine.

William Fèvre with Victor Pino in Chile
William Fèvre (R) with Victor Pino in Chile

Fèvre was frustrated with the French wine bureaucracy deciding where he could and couldn’t plant, so he followed his palate to the Chilean Andes, where he knocked on landowner Victor Pino’s door in San Juan after scouting the property from the hills above on horseback.

Not a wine guy, Pino wouldn’t sell his land but he did agree to become partners, allowing Fèvre to plant grapes despite thinking that he was getting into business with a crazy Frenchman who actually opted for land with lower grape production potential. The vines took time to mature, because they were planted at higher altitudes, where snow fell and the growing season was cooler. When pictures of winter pruning showed snow on the ground, many in the Chilean industry were amused and thought Victor was crazy for having taken on such a venture. But 20 years into the partnership, the wines have become some of Chile’s most highly regarded.

Farmhand tending to vines
Farmhand tending to the vines at Victor Pino's vineyard in Maipo Valley, Chile

The vineyards are located high in the Maipo Valley in the foothills of the Andes, in the central zone of Chile. In these less hospitable, less typical, conditions the vines must try harder and thus produce fresher fruit, deep berry concentration and broad yet round-shouldered tannins.

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Bottle of 2011 William Fèvre Chacai, Maipo Valley

2011 William Fèvre Chacai, Maipo Valley

Member Price $54.00
Nonmember Price $60.00

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On the nose Pure expressions of blackberry fruit gain complexity by dashes of cacao, bay and spice aromas.

In the mouthBlack-cherry fruit gives way to hints of tobacco leaf before finishing with firm but extremely fine tannins.

On the plateThe structure and tannins in the William Fèvre Chacai call for the wine to be paired with well-marbled steaks, chops or roasts. Stews and hearty casseroles of beef, lamb or sausage make excellent cool-weather choices.

EntertainDecant two hours before serving, and serve a little cooler than room temperature: refrigerate the decanted wine for 10 minutes before serving.

— Try it with —

Churrasco-Style Steak with Chimichurri

Recipe: Churrasco style steak with Chimichurri

Churrasco refers to a South American method of grilling meat over a wood or charcoal fire. Chimichurri is a ubiquitous condiment in Argentina, made by pureeing fresh green herbs with garlic, oil and vinegar. Prepare your palate for a flavor punch!

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