Mujer Andina: sparkling despite the pandemic
July 22, 2020
We’ve all heard about small businesses that have been hard-hit in one way or another by the Covid-19 pandemic. This week I was inspired by the positive attitude of the woman owner of one such company here in Chile: Andrea (Andi) Jure, who makes and sells sparkling wines through her business Mujer Andina based in Paine near to Santiago.
Prior to the pandemic, restaurants accounted for a significant share of Andi’s sales and, of course, those sales dried up when the restaurants were all closed in mid-March, meaning a major loss in income. The schools closed at that time too, so Andi’s three children, like so many others around the world, have been stuck at home 24/7 since then, needing extra attention. And, of course, the pandemic hit Chile right at the busiest period in the winemaking calendar, so not only did Andi have to contend with lost sales and the increased needs of her family, but also grapes arriving and fermentation vats to keep an eye on, so it was a busy time in the cellar too. It all added up to a stressful situation. Andi, however, refused to let it get her down.
“Once I’ve embarked on something, I don’t get off – unless the boat actually sinks, of course,” she laughs. “And you know, sometimes things don’t work out but you just have to keep going.”
So she launched a whole new social media strategy with home delivery to consumers across Chile with innovative ideas like hand-painting bottles to order. And it’s a strategy that has proved effective, making her products better-known. Plus a second order came in from a distributor in New York, so the future is looking a whole lot brighter for Andi and her wines.
There are currently two Mujer Andina wines on the market, both sparkling.
Ai! is a tank-method wine made with 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir grapes from Biobio and is intended to be a fun sparkling suitable for any occasion. Hence the playful label depicting a woman falling into a glass of sparkling wine and the name “Ai!”, which is a very Chilean word meaning “wow” or “mmm”, as in “¡Ai, qué rico!” (mmm, how delicious!).
Ai! is certainly a very quaffable and refreshing sparkling wine, hand’s down better than a lot of the industrialized sparkling wines in the same price bracket. The nose is lightly citrussy – think sherbet lemon – and it’s very fresh in the mouth, with the acidity and sugar well-balanced. A good choice for parties or a hot day on the terrace.
Levita is in a whole other category. It’s a beautiful salmon-coloured sparkling made from organic Syrah grapes. The wine spends a few months over its lees before the second, in-bottle fermentation and another period on the lees to enhance the complexity and mouthfeel. The nose is expressive with notes of red apples and pears, canned strawberries and cherries intermingled with delicious leesy notes like Danish pastries. This is a crisp, dry, creamy-textured wine that will pair with a wide range of food. Check it out with smoked salmon, prawn brochettes, creamy cheese or even Thai dishes.
Andi continues to be upbeat and is full of plans for the future. There are three non-sparkling wines under development – a rosé, a Pinot Noir and a Carmenère and she also has plans to expand her sparkling range down the line. Mujer Andina is definitely a brand worth keeping your eye on.
I asked Andi what advice she would give to another woman thinking about setting up her own business:
“Choose something that makes you happy. Believe in yourself. Be honest and honourable. And don’t wait for things to come to you; you have to work for them.”
Sage advice indeed.
Finally, I asked her to tell me about three wines she had enjoyed recently:
- Grand Vin de Château Léoville Las Cases in Bordeaux
- Marcela Chandia’s wines La Confundida Carmenère or El Consentido Cabernet Sauvignon, because they are elegant and fruity, with just the right level of oak.
- Weichafe Sauvignon Blanc to pair with seafood.