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Cedary, fresh and savoury Chilean carmenère from a cool spot for this variety, the Isla de Maipo, a bend in the river with well-drained gravel soils. It should mature very well, developing plummy and lead pencil aromas with age.
Product Code: CE10781
View all products by De Martino Wines
Pietro De Martino Pascualone founded this estate in 1934, moving to Chile from his native Italy in search of a perfect place to make wine. He found an idyllic spot in the Maipo Valley, around 50km from Santiago, in between the Andes mountains and the Pacific ocean. He settled in a town called Isla de Maipo, so called because it was surrounded by branches of the Maipo river, and although these have since dried up, they have provided excellent soils for the vines which are now planted in their place. Today De Martino is managed by the third and fourth generations of the family, and has 300 hectares of vines. What sets De Martino apart is the leadership of winemaker Marco Retamal and the increasing influence of the new generation, Marco and Sebastián de Martino, who have been bitten by the wine bug and are set to do interesting things in the future. Marcelo Retamal is a very talented winemaker and viticulturist and has a more challenging vision of how Chilean viticulture should develop than most. Part of his contract is an annual one-month period of study abroad looking at vineyards across the world. His visits have taught him that too many Chilean vineyards have been planted in too ‘safe’ a climate and that more extreme vineyards are necessary. For example, despite making good Casablanca pinot noir he stopped making it because he wanted to make a much better example. He is convinced that one needs a more continental climate for pinot, with snow in winter.He has recently been inspired by how well some carmenères from the 1980s have matured. These were picked at 13% and he is now picking all wines much earlier – even carmenère, one of the latest ripening of all varieties, is picked at 13% instead of 14.5%. This reduces alcohol and introduces a fresher register of flavours. He is also minimising overt oak influence and is maturing the best wines in 5000 litre foudres from Stockinger in Austria. Fresh from a visit to Georgia, where amphoras are still used, he has been using these to ferment cinsault.Marcelo, aided by Eduardo Jordan, has scoured Chile from north to south, seeking out the best and most interesting combinations of climate, soil and grape variety and has used over 350 sites so far. The estate’s various wine ranges are a reflection of their discoveries, and the single-vineyard wines (eg. Limávida, planted 1945, Las Cruces, planted 1965, La Aguada 1955, etc) which have resulted from this search are particularly impressive.The Legado range, from which The Society frequently buys, is designed to express the individual characters of Chile’s winemaking valleys. The carmenère is especially good, which isn’t surprising considering that De Martino was the first estate to export wines made from this grape, and are now seen as pioneers of the variety.The Gallardía del Itata range is sourced from the Itata valley, 400km south of Santiago where viticulture was first practised in Chile as rainfall is 1100mm a year and no irrigation is necessary. Gallardía is a Spanish word for bravery, but is also the name of the flower frequently found in Itata vineyards, and the range was created to reflect the wines’ often floral character.
The Spanish conquerors introduced vinifera vines to Chile, and with them the establishment of vineyards for winemaking, in the middle of the 16th century, and the area around the capital Santiago has a history of winemaking stretching back nearly four and a half centuries. By the middle of the 19th century the Chilean wine industry was well established, but was making fairly rustic fare and it was a well-travelled local called Silvestre Ochagavia Echazzarreta who, in 1851, brought a French winemaker and a cargo of vine cuttings back from his travels to France and set a new era in motion.Robust domestic consumption kept demand, and tax revenue, high in the 20th century until domestic drinkers turned away in the 1970s and 1980s and many vineyards were pulled during the unsettling political upheavals of the former decade. The return of democracy stimulated investment and growth and a forward thinking, export oriented industry pointed to a brighter future.Quality begins, absolutely in the vineyard. In the last ten years Chile has begun to plant vineyards not just by matching variety and climate, which it has done very well up to now, but by mapping and analysing soils before planting. This new generation of soil-mapped vineyards planted in the last decade, with higher density, rootstocks and drip irrigation, or no irrigation, is now just starting to bear fruit and will revolutionise the quality of Chilean wines.Chile became first known for its cheap cabernets and merlots made from high yields in the fertile, warm, flat, flood-irrigated Central Valley. However, Chile is no longer a cheap country to buy from. Its economy is based on copper. It is the world's largest producer. Booming demand from China has seen its currency, the peso, strengthen, much like the Australian dollar which has been buoyed by its mineral resources. Labour for the wine industry is becoming more expensive and scarcer as it has to compete with the highly profitable mining industry which can afford to pay more. Energy costs have risen rapidly. It is estimated that half the vineyard area of Chile, about 62,500ha, is less than 15 years old. It probably takes 8-20 years to pay back a vineyard, and about 30 for a bodega. In Spain one can buy lovely 60-year-old-vine garnacha from co-operatives in Calatayud or Navarra at very cheap prices. The capital costs of the vineyard and winery have long been absorbed and the old vines offer lovely quality too.There are massive viticultural possibilities. This remarkable 3,000-mile-long country includes all the world's climates apart from sub-tropical and tropical. Grape varieties need different climates to prosper and Chile can accommodate them all.Many of Chile's cheap wines came from the flat, fertile and warm Central Valley, ideal for ripening large crops of very good entry-level wines. Before the advent of drip irrigation only these flat vineyards were suitable for flood irrigation. However, these flat lands were also situated in a warm climate and had fertile soils. The availability of drip irrigation allowed the planting of the cooler and less fertile south facing slopes, and availability of rootstocks allowed a greater diversity of soils to be planted.From Elqui in the north to Rapel in the middle of the country the rainfall increases from 90mm to 550mm. This lack of rainfall means Chile is free from most fungal diseases and has some of the healthiest grapes in the world. Water reserves from snow in the Andes, and the advent of drip irrigation (a vine needs about 700mm a year to survive) has allowed cool south-facing slopes, with less fertile soils, to be cultivated and yields controlled. From Maule down to Bío-Bío rainfall increases from 550 to 1,500mm and there are many unirrigated vineyards here.As well as the north to south dynamic, there is also a huge temperature variation east to west. Dr Richard Smart, a viticulture guru, says that to combat global warming viticulturists should head to the mountains or to the coast. Chile has both. More vineyards are being planted in the Andes mountains up to 2,000m, where average temperature decreases by 0.6°C with every 100 metres of altitude. The coast, cooled by the 14°C Pacific Ocean, has spawned a remarkable recent growth in vineyards. First came Casablanca (1982), then Leyda (1998), swiftly followed by Limarí (2005), Elqui, Aconcagua and Rapel. In between, the Central Valley and its offshoots like Apalta and Peumo are much warmer and are typically ideal for carmenère, and the southern Rhône varieties which are starting to appear, or for ripening large crops of cabernet and merlot to make cheaper wines.If Chile has successfully understood the matching of climate with grape variety, what it did not do, until recently, other than by accident, was to match the climate and variety with the right soil. There has been a step change in the quality of vineyards planted in the last 10 years or so. Knowledge about the soil following scientific analysis, appropriate planting density, choice of rootstocks, excellent clonal and massale selections of grape varieties, ability to plant cooler and less fertile south-facing slopes with the advent of drip irrigation (flood irrigation can only cope with virtually flat land) have all conspired to revolutionise the quality of vineyards planted in the past decade or so.For a more detailed examination of Chile and its regions please go to our How To Buy Chile section of our web site.
"Everything I want from a carmenere. Lovely pure blackcurrent fruit. Will definitely be buying again."
"Everything I want from a carmenere. Lovely pure blackcurrent fruit. Will definitely be buying again."
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