“Vigno” Old Vines Dry-Farmed Carignan 2009, Maule Valley – De Martino
Founded by Italian immigrants to Chile in 1934, the family-run estate produces a broad range of terroir-driven wines from hundreds of vine parcels spread out over all the viticultural areas of Chile. They work organically, using only native yeasts and age their wines in steel, large barrels or used barriques so as to maintain the character of the grapes. De Martino is responsible for the first varietally-labelled Carmenère to emerge from Chile – all the way back in 1996.
The Wine in Context
“Vigno” is a project set up in 2009 by several winemakers in this part of Chile, who wanted to create an appellation in the Maule Valley to honour and increase the worthy profile of the old-vine, dry-farmed Carignan parcels found there. Vignadores de Carignan is the name of the association with which already 15 different estates are involved, including such names as Lapostolle, Undurraga, Concha y Toro and Miguel Torres. Each estate makes their wine in their own way, as long as it meets or exceeds the technical standards agreed upon in 2009.
De Martino’s wine is sourced from a 4.5-hectare vineyard planted in 1955 called “La Aguarda”. Of all the old-vine Carignan in the Maule Valley, La Aguarda is closest to the Pacific Ocean. The climate is undeniably Mediterranean, but the influence of the of the Pacific brings cooler temperatures and more cloud than regions farther south. The soils are granite.
Okay, cards on the table: this wine is NOT 100% Carignan. It is 85%, with the balance made up from Malbec and, amusingly, Cinsault. It’s a field blend, all vines are bush-trained, never sprayed, never irrigated and, since Chile is, famously, phylloxera-free, the vines are even ungrafted. The wine aged for 24 months in 5000-litre foudres
This wine isn’t cheap, but I was so interested in how it might be that I special-ordered it from the major German importer of De Martino’s wines (some of which I have been drinking for years) just so I could give it a try. It was love at first sip, and I’ve bought it a number of times since that first experience nearly two years ago – but it has always been the 2009 vintage. Apparently it is the only vintage available here. This tasting note is for the bottle I opened most recently – just a few weeks ago.
The Tasting Note
It’s a beautiful, deep ruby in the glass – barely any sign of aging has taken place. Rose hips, red currants, cranberries and red cherries accompany the sweet spice in the nose, with a lovely foundation of toasted coconut and even a hint of chocolate.
The palate has the expected freshness, replete with more red fruit, a hint of cassis and oregano. Great salty tang, a touch of sweet tobacco, smooth tannin and a finish that goes on for a good long while. The fruit is fresh, the character is concentrated, yet the wine is fun and lively. What a pleasure to drink, and there is still plenty of time for it. The sweet tobacco character will get more pronounced with age as the fruit recedes. Wonderful to drink now, but definitely has the stamina to improve and develop over the next ten years.
The One-Line Takeaway
Worth every cent – if you can find it, try it immediately!