Two Very Highly Recommended Reds From Chile
Clos des Fous Cauquenina 2014, 14%,
€22.99 Blackrock Cellar Green Man Wines Molloys Clonsilla The Corkscrew Wineonline.ie
Cauquenina, meaning “girl from Cauquenes”, is a blend of several varietals. Each lot was vinified and aged separately to create aromas of black pepper, tea leaves, graphite and violet and a full-bodied wine. Blend: 27% Carmenère , 25% Carignano/Carignan, 11% Petite Sirah, 10% Cinsault , 10% Malbec, 10% Pais, 7% Syrah/Shiraz. The amounts and varietals in the blend are not necessarily the same in each vintage.
Colour is a deep ruby red. Aromas are quite intense, red fruit like strawberry and raspberry and darker such as cherry. The palate is light and dry; reminds me of a Beaujolais Gamay one moment, of a Burgundy Pinot Noir the next. These are two of my favourite grapes, so I’m very happy with it and its generous and smooth palate, smooth tannins too, its balance and its good long finish as well. Very Highly Recommended.
This quite original wine starts with each varietal being vinified and aged separately. Fermentation took place in cement vats. A portion (about 15 to 20%) of the wine was put into new French oak barrels and the other part in one-year-old barrels. The fermentations were slow and careful so as not to over-extract.
Clos des Fous is about four friends, four crazy guys that have chosen to ignore the experts about where to plant vineyards and to trust their own instincts. But don’t worry, the four are experts themselves, experts with a mission. The four (listed on the label in tiny print) are winemaker Pedro Parra, François Massoc (extensive experience in Burgundy), winemaker Paco Leyton (Altos las Hormigas, Puculan) and businessman Albert Cussen (strengths in admin and finance).
They are about growing wines over “the Chilean extreme, fresh and unpredictable places, looking for natural balance”. “This is a unique and groundbreaking project based on a delicate and novel terroir selection. Following the Burgundy philosophy, our focus is to achieve wines with minimal intervention, letting the terroir express itself.”
Clos des Fous (the madmen’s vineyard) is highly praised in Wines of South America: “Their approach produces wines that distinctively express their terroir, made with organic fruit and using techniques that are so minimalist that the wines are vinified without ‘safety nets such as fining or filtering'.”
Montes Alpha Carmenère Valle De Colchagua (DO) 2018, 14.5%
€22.99 Baggot Street Wines, Ely Wine Store, Sweeney’s D3, Terroirs, The Corkscrew Wineonline.ie, World Wide Wines
Deep dark red is the colour here. Intense blackberry on the nose, tobacco (I barely remember that!), plus a touch of Mocha and toasty too. And that continues on the assertive palate, deliciously fruity and certainly full-bodied, one to be sipped and savoured, and the smooth tannins carry you into a long and pleasing finish. Yet another very satisfactory Montes wine and Very Highly Recommended.
The grapes were cold soaked at 10°C for five days to extract aroma and colour. Following this, they underwent fermentation in temperature controlled stainless-steel tanks for 12 days and were then kept on the skins to impart structure and colour. 55% of the final blend was aged in French oak barrels for 12 months.
Montes are serious players. According to the Wines of South America, Montes (founded in 1988) is credited for its pioneering work in the Colchagua’s Apalta district, the first to realise its potential as one of the best locations for red wines in Chile and “is among the most important wineries in Chile today”. As a further endorsement, their Alpha “M” (very limited production) is listed as one of the top 20 South American wines to drink before you die.
Liberty have some interesting background detail: They learned, when they started producing Montes Alpha in 1987, that they needed balanced yields and to harvest when the grapes were ripe. They adapted these practices to all their vineyards and the results were startling. Montes’ own vineyards now cover 75% of their requirements. The other 25% of fruit is produced in vineyards that they have planted, cultivated and picked. In other words, they control everything except the ownership of the land. In addition to this control over the vineyard, they also sell in bulk what is not good enough to go into the bottles that carry their label. Having made the selection in the vineyard, they are able to make a further selection in the winery. The results are there for you to taste.