Discover our interview with the Ecuadorian winery Dos Hemisferios, a major wine producer and one of the country’s few vineyards.
We often hear of Ecuador for its cocoa, the best variety of which, known as “fino de aroma”, not only originated in Ecuador but is still mostly produced there, or even for its coffee.
The country, which is characterized by its great diversity in terms of the ecosystems represented in the Andes, Amazon and Galapagos, is one of the main places of origin of the food we eat worldwide.
Today, we’re taking you to meet some of Ecuador’s wine producers. And it’s not just any winery, it’s the Dos Hemisferios estate, one of the country’s rare vineyards, having earned a fine reputation over the years.
Terra Ecuador went to meet María Isabel Arteaga to find out more about Ecuadorian wine, but also to help you discover this atypical Ecuadorian product.
- First, could you give us a brief introduction to your vineyard?
“In Ecuador, where the two hemispheres of the planet meet, we have achieved the unimaginable, producing the first high-quality fine wines. This project, which began over ten years ago, has made possible what was once thought impossible. Dos Hemisferios challenged the belief that, on the Equator line, the conditions for harvesting grapes for wine didn’t exist, a fact thought possible only in countries at other latitudes and with four seasons.”.
Ecuador‘s climate is very particular. The 4 seasons as we know them in France don’t exist here. What’s more, the country has a multitude of climates. You can go from the Pacific coast to the Andes volcanoes in less than 200 km, from 0 to 4,000 metres above sea level, all under tropical latitudes.
Nothing to do with the usual climatic conditions required for wine production.
The Dos Hemisferios estate is located in San Miguel Del Morro, a small town on the country’s coast, characterized by bright days, cold nights, limestone soil and continuous sea breezes.
- Can you tell us more about the history of wine in Ecuador, and how it all began?
“It all began in 1999 with the acquisition of hectares in San Miguel Del Morro, where initially table grapes (Italia, Cardinal and Rivera) were planted. Encouraged by excellent results, in 2004 the initiative to harvest grapes for wine was launched. We imported Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Chardonnay.
With the experience of Abel Furlán, a renowned winemaker from Mendoza (an Argentine city with a long tradition of winemaking), the aim was to produce the first Ecuadorian quality wine, on a par with the well-known brands from Chilean wineries.
Thus was born Paradoja 2006 (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec). Its name was born because making wine in our country was just that: a paradox. A paradigm we broke, and which led us to plant 38 hectares of vines.”
In South America, Argentina and Chile are the continent’s two wine-producing pioneers. Not only for climatic reasons, but also because of their historical and cultural links with European terroirs.
This makes them a benchmark for the rest of the continent.
- What grape varieties are present in the country? Are they different from those found in France, for example?
“We have the grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Viognier and Ancellotta.
– Our Cabernet Sauvignon is lighter and sweeter than traditional Cabernet. Cabernet Sauvignon shoots are like asparagus here in Ecuador, the plant feeds off the temperature (which is high in Ecuador) and the sun, giving us a very ripe grape that’s different from what happens in Argentina. Argentine Cabernet is less aromatic than Chilean Cabernet, and in that respect we’re similar to the Chileans, but their Cabernet is more vegetal and ours is riper.
In Ecuador, the temperature doesn’t exceed 31 degrees (which is the case in Argentina), so our Malbec retains its aroma and, thanks to the thermal amplitude, its color is better than that of Argentine Malbec.
– Our Merlot is well rounded, with good color, not vegetal, but very fruity. In Argentina, Merlot is more astringent. And in the case of Pinot Noir, the traditional is Burgundian and you have to wait for the tannins to fall, ours being more mature, its tannins are less aggressive.”
In the end, although the grape varieties are familiar, the resulting wines are unique! Once again, it’s the country’s unique climate that makes it possible to explore new flavors from grape varieties that are already widely known.
- Can you give us a few examples of wine and food pairings that can be enjoyed during our visit?
“We currently have over 20 wines. Some examples of pairings can be with our Travesia line, which is the most extensive we have:
- Travesía Cabernet Sauvignon: Because of its complexity, it pairs well with red meats, game, duck and lamb. Combines well with intense flavors. Excellent with chocolate at 75% or higher.
- Travesía Malbec: Pork and red meat, cuts for roasts such as ribs, also roast beef, barbecue sauce and red fruits. Goes well with hard cheeses. Chocolate from 50% to 65%, with red fruit or coffee.
- Travesía Merlot: Pizzas, chicken, pork and lean red meats. Semi-hard cheeses. 50% milk chocolate with hazelnuts.
- Pinot Noir Travesía: Excellent with fish such as salmon and tuna, chicken and game birds. Mushrooms, Gruyère and sushi.
- Sauvignon Blanc Travesía: Excellent aperitif. Pairs well with ceviche, salads, citrus sauces, goat cheese and spicy foods. White chocolate with citrus and dark chocolate with salt.
- Travesía Chardonnay: Chicken, fish and seafood, accompanied by pasta and risottos. Creamy desserts with hints of orange.”.
- What can we discover on our visit to Dos Hemisferios?
“You’ll discover that the impossible is possible in Ecuador, a fertile paradise, and you’ll be delighted with the wines from our cellar, unique in their kind because they’re produced in this country on the other side of the world.”.
If this interview has made your mouth water and you’d like to take your senses on a voyage of discovery, contact us and discover our Foodie Tour in Ecuador.