Ignacio Pino Román - Itata, Chile

Ignacio Pino Román - Itata, Chile

Ignacio Pino Román - Nacho to his friends - is one of those people who impress by their coolheaded pragmatism. He is a lover of process, calm and collected, yet with an unwavering determination to make great terroir wine in the Itata Valley.

After a few years working as an agronomist, he spent three years working in wineries in New Zealand, Portugal and California, before returning to Chile to start his solo project. He settled in Itata, in Chile's Secano Interior, where he homed in on a clutch of prime vineyard plots from which to make the purest wines of his mind's eye.

Like any good winemaker, Nacho knows that the best wines are made in the vineyard. Having found the right plots, he has built strong relationships with their owners to ensure that they are managed the right way. He pays the owners double, sometimes triple the going rate for grapes to persuade them to work the way he wants.

That means organically, and with attention given to each and every vine: out with the Glyphosate and artificial fertilisers, in with organic treatments and horse ploughing of the soil. All to promote living soils, healthy microflora populations - all the elements of that complex matrix which produces the best grapes and the most characterful wines.

Since 2018 Nacho has been developing his own interpretation of natural wine. His ultimate aim to communicate the essence of Itata’s naturalised grape varieties - país, moscatel, torontel, semillon and corinto - using old, ungrafted vines growing on decomposed granite soils.

Natural wine is a notoriously slippery term, but for Nacho the meaning is clear: it means wines with as little interference as possible and wines without ornament. He picks relatively early to retain acidity and avoids adding sulphur apart from a tiny dose at bottling.

During maceration he extracts as delicately as possible. He allows natural yeasts to dictate fermentations. He only racks his wines once to remove the gross lees. He eschews the make-up of oak barrels, preferring steel tanks or traditional old Chilean tinajas for their flavour neutrality. In this way, guided by his varied experience and a pin-sharp winemaking instinct, he makes authentic Itata wines of rare purity and finesse.

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