Chile has a long viticultural history for a New World wine region dating to the 16th century when the Spanish conquistadors brought Vitis vinifera vines with them as they colonized the region. In the mid-19th century, French wine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenère and Cabernet Franc were introduced. In the early 1980s, a renaissance began with the introduction of stainless steel fermentation tanks and the use of oak barrels for aging. Wine exports grew very quickly as quality wine production increased. The number of wineries has grown from 12 in 1995 to over 70 in 2005. Reasons for this sudden expansion varies, but all are essential to understanding Chilean wine culture. The largest factor, and arguably most prominent, relates to the large amount of French families immigrating to Chile during the late 20th century. The French were able to share their fine tastes and experience with the native Chileans, expanding their knowledge of the wine world. Chile is now the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, and the ninth largest producer. The climate has been described as midway between that of California and France. The most common grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère.
- Item #: i_378147Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 100If you're looking for one of the finest densely-packed Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines in the spirit of Bordeaux and Napa greats, look no further than the recently arrived 2017 Almaviva! This is a wine that regularly makes it onto top wine lists (the previous vintage was on Wine Spectators' top 10 for 2019), and this vintage will be no exception. In fact, James Suckling gave it a perfect score! As you can see, this is no fruit bomb, but excites the palate and the imagination with brambly vine-fruit accompanied by classic herbal and mineral qualities.
JAMES SUCKLING 100 POINTS - "The aromas of blackberry leaves and iodine are wild and exotic here with mussel shells and earth underneath. Full-bodied, tight and chewy with powerful tannins that show muscle. It's structured and powerful. Dense and very, very deep. Don't touch this until 2025."
Since 1998 Almaviva has been the sole wine of the Almaviva winery in Chile, just as the flagship wines of Bordeaux are known by the name of the chateau, and is a collaboration between the famous Baron Philippe de Rothschild company and the Chilean powerhouse Concha y Toro (it's named for the character Count Almaviva in the French play by Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro, which Mozart famously made into an opera).
The complex flavors and textures of Almaviva are built by blending separately-vinified Cabernet Sauvignon with a significant amount of Carmenere, followed by small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot, and then by aging in French oak barrels for 19 months, which promotes a more elegant mouthfeel and adds subtle spices. This was a warmer growing season than 2016, resulting in a slightly softer and rounder mouthfeel, which means it's a little more approachable. Nevertheless, like most great wines, this is one that will reward patient cellaring as it unwinds and grows in complexity and elegance through the years, though with a long time in the decanter and a great meal, you can always enjoy it earlier!
- Item #: i_381588Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92WIEN ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The pure Cabernet Franc 2017 Pirque Vineyard sticks out like a sore thumb when tasted next to the other wines from Maule with its minty and creamy Maipo Cabernet personality. It comes from a vineyard planted in the 1980s in Pirque at around 700 meters in altitude. They treat this like their other single-vineyard wines, with fermentation in open-top vats with indigenous yeasts and punching down, trying to control the power. They picked this a little earlier and managed to bottle a wine with 13.5% alcohol and good freshness. 4,071 bottles were filled from 14 barrels in January 2019. This is their 90th wine, marked Lot #90."
This is small scale winemaking at its best! The Garage Wine Co began as a hobby in Pilar and Derek Mossman’s garage with the goal of making wines for friends and family. Everything was done by hand, primarily on the weekends while they continued to work their day jobs to provide for the family. Within a few years, the wines became better known as word of mouth created demand from strangers and eventually restaurants. The Chilean national newspaper ran an article on this coveted urban myth, referring to the budding enterprise as "that Garage Wine Company." With that story, demand increased and a brand was born.
The hallmark of these wines is their amazing purity, freshness and silky texture. The Mossman's achieve such high quality by emphasizing quality over quantity. They make tiny lots of 11-19 barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Carignan field blend plowed by horse to this day. They truck their fruit in a trailer behind a trusty, worn red pick-up and make their wines by hand. Employing natural methods, only native yeasts are utilized for fermentation and the wines are aged in used oak barrels. The finished wines are then bottled in sterilized, recycled bottles.
Despite their humble ways, the wines have attracted the attention of critics who consistently award high scores and write glowing reviews. These limited distribution wines are fantastic and demonstrate what can be achieved with singular passion and commitment. They are compelling, well-balanced and utterly delicious.
- Item #: i_383127Bottle Size: 750mlWe thoroughly enjoyed tasting the wines from Pedro Parra y Familia. The passion put into these wines is as evident and convincing as the terroir of Itata and the amazing flavors and scents found within (the nose and tongue do not lie!). These are some of the best we've tasted from Chile in some time. If you are unfamiliar with Chilean viticulture these will be a splendid introduction; if you remember when Chilean wines first splashed onto the market decades ago, these bottles will showcase not only how far their acumen has progressed but also how much potential and world class quality can come out of their soil and into our glasses-- these are the real deal!
"Pedro Parra y Familia was born in my head many years ago, but it was only after 15 years as a consultant, traveling and working all around, I felt mature enough to begin. The main idea was always the same: make pure terroir wines from Granite soils. Make wines I like to drink, and be free to select and create from several terroirs. But more important, the idea is to start something that I can share with my family, my wife Camila, and my kids Diego, Felipe and Colomba." - Pedro Parra
"After 18 years of terroir work all around the World, I felt mature enough to create my own wines, from what I consider the most incredible Chilean Terroir, Itata." - Pedro Parra
I had the chance to work and dig in Barolo, Burgundy, Montalcino, Oregon, Sicily, Rioja, and worked with the best people." - Pedro Parra
"Freddie Hubbard was the most intense and sharp Jazz trumpet player of all times. His great tune Re Clay was one of my all-time hits when I was a Saxophone player. So, this wine is the more sharp and electric wine I made, coming from a very high elevation vineyard in Guarilihue. The soil is pure Quartz and Iron, extremely shallow bringing mineral reduction to the flavors that I love." - Pedro Parra
Fermentation and aging are both made in non-epoxy concrete tank. For the first year, only 572 bottles were produced. The label is based on a Piano from the great Vinyl Hub Tones, from Hubbard (Blue Note Records) and every layer shows 10 cm of soil/rock, SO THIS WINE comes from a 10 cm shallow very stony red sandy quartzic granite, with dry-farmed 78 years old Cinsault.
Tasting notes - The nose is filled with dark fruits and spices with mixed herbal tones-- dark blue fruits and black licorice are dusted with sea salt. Attractive and fresh. In the mouth, red fruits dominate in a mixed melange of strawberry tea and plum preserves. Sea salt, persimmon and cinnamon lend support as the excellent structure, acidity and firm tannins, keeps the wine uplifted and focused. Stunning.
- Item #: i_381046Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 96James Suckling: 99Tucked away in a broad, dramatic amphitheater of the Aconcagua river valley in Chile, an organic and biodynamically farmed vineyard belonging to the Vina Errazuriz winery forms the foundation for a wine that feels equally broad and dramatic. This now-iconic wine was named Sena for the "signal" its creators wanted to send to the world that Chile was capable of making more than value table wine. It's a tapestry of Bordeaux varieties, driven by Cabernet Sauvignon with the details and accents of South American favorites Malbec and Carmenere, and hints from Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Luxury wine drinkers will appreciate the attention to detail that goes into crafting Sena, which owes much to two big names of Napa and Bordeaux. The wine began as a collaboration between Eduardo Chadwick of this family-run winery, which goes back to 1870, and Napa icon Robert Mondavi, along with the help of internationally renowned Bordeaux specialist, Michel Rolland. The result is a wine that has reached the heights of critical acclaim, and will satisfy fans of concentrated Napa Valley reds, super-Tuscans, and modern Bordeaux. Even better, this sunny, semi-Mediterranean land offers their best at a value compared to the ever-increasing prices of those other regions!
JAMES SUCKLING 99 POINTS - "The aromas of blackberries, cedar, sandalwood and black tea are compelling. Black olives. Rosemary and sage undertones. Full-bodied, rich and powerful Seña with impressive and powerful tannins, yet harmony and balance. Fruit-forward. Lightly chewy. Fresh and energetic wine in a hot year. Broad-shouldered."
WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "They explained how the 2017 Seña was produced with "grapes that were handpicked in the morning and transported to the winery in 12-kilogram boxes for a careful inspection on a double sorting table. The grapes fermented in stainless steel tanks at 25 to 31 degrees Celsius (77 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit), depending on the variety and the level of extraction desired. Three pump-overs were carried out daily during fermentation to rotate the volume of the tank 0.5 to 1.5 times. Total maceration time ranged from 15 to 30 days for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Carmenère and eight to 12 days for the Petit Verdot, according to the development of each block vinified. The final blend was racked to French oak barrels (67% new) and aged for 22 months, during which time malolactic fermentation and stabilization occurred naturally." They harvested early and managed to keep the same alcohol level as the 2016. This has less aromatic exuberance and is a more serious vintage with good concentration and weight, not as aerial as the 2016. They increased the amount of wine matured in larger 2,500-liter foudres instead of barrique. This is more powerful, structured and concentrated, like a drier version of the 2015, with some grainy tannins, more acidity, more austerity and less primary fruit. The tannins have some grip (the earlier harvest perhaps?) and might need a little bit of time in bottle, and the wine seems to have what it takes to develop nicely in bottle.