December 1, 2017
Meet Nieves Edwards, who represents Clos de Luz (where her brother is winemaker) and Andes Plateau. We’re tasting all reds this evening, on the mid-to-upper end of the price range (thinking gifts) from $24 to $60. Notes are below.
Clos de Luz Valle del Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Massal 1945’, 2014
Clos de Luz Valle del Colchagua Carmenere ‘Massal 1945’, 2014
Notes from the importer: Clos de Luz is a family winery located in Almahue Valley, known as the birthplace of Carmenere in Chile – Carmenere represents 75% of the plantings. Winemaker Gabriel Edwards currently runs his family domaine. The estate, bought by his great grandfather in 1892, now spreads over 33 hectares of vineyards, planted in 1945 by Gabriel’s grandmother, Luz. They are some of the oldest Carmenere vineyards in Chile, and probably in the world. The grapes were being sold for more than 20 years to Casa Lapostolle, until Gabriel decided to return to Chile and make his own wine.
Almahue Valley is located 70 miles South East of Santiago, 40 miles from the Pacific Ocean and 28 miles from the Andes Mountains. The viticulture history of the valley started in the XVIIth century during the Spanish colonization era. Modern viticulture started in 1933, when Gabriel’s ancestors planted French grape varieties such as what they thought was Merlot but later was discovered to be Carmenere, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Climate: rain reaches to up to 22 inches during the winter, on average. The growing season (Oct-April) offers beautiful days and warm temperatures with no rain. There are cool breezes in the afternoon and night time temperatures are cold. A wide temperature fluctuation between day and night allows to obtain high concentration in color and tannin. The grapes ripen slowly and reach ideal maturity while retaining a high level of natural acidity, ensuring a long aging potential.
The domaine’s vineyards are 100% ungrafted and certified organic by Ceres. Because Chile is isolated from the phylloxera, they are planted “franc de pied”, giving a unique character to the wines. The vineyards are also 100% Massal selection from old vineyards, as opposed to a large majority of vineyards planted using clonal selection (all genetically identical plants). Massal selection consists in selecting good and healthy vines, and then propagating them from cuttings. This method preserves the natural diversity of the plants. The vineyards are plowed by horses, as the twisted trunks of the old vines make it impossible to use a tractor.
Andes Plateau 700 Red Blend 2014, Central Valley, Chile
Andes Plateau is inspired by the the altitude, colors, sky and terroir of the Andes Mountain range.
After working for two years at San Pedro Vineyards in Chile, enologist Felipe Uribe got his Masters in viticulture and enology from the Polytechnic University in Madrid. He then returned to Chile where he was assistant winemaker at Santa Helena Vineyard. From there he went to work at La Crema, then back to Chile where he was assistant winemaker at DeMartino, before becoming chief winemaker at Miravalle Vineyard.
700 is a red blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Carignan. It’s fresh as the mountain air, and imbued with mint, black pepper, and crunchy black fruit. Organic.
Bodega Chacra, Pinot Noir Cincuenta y Cinco, Patagonia, Argentina
Bodega Chacra is located in the Rio Negro Valley of northern Patagonia. The property’s location in the arid central Argentine desert is tempered by the confluence of the Neuquen and Limay Rivers, both of which flow from the Andes and converge in the Rio Negro.
The climate is dry and the area gets an average of seven inches of rainfall annually. This aridity, coupled with the natural barrier of the surrounding desert, results in a complete absence of phylloxera. The soil of the Rio Negro Valley, an ancient riverbed composed of limestone, sand, and clay, coupled with the Valley’s pristine pollution-free air and tremendous luminosity, makes for ideal conditions to grow Pinot Noir.
In 2004, Piero Incisa della Rocchetta purchased the first of Bodega Chacra’s vineyards, a property with an existing, though abandoned, vineyard planted in 1932. This vineyard of gnarled and ungrafted Pinot Noir vines was later added to a neighboring vineyard of vines planted in 1955. From these two old vine vineyards, Piero produces two distinct single vineyard Pinot Noirs. They are named “Treinta y Dos” and “Cincuenta y Cinco” after the dates of their respective plantings.
Cincuenta y Cinco comes from vineyards planted in 1955 which gently rest on a sea of pebbles, typical in riverbed soils. It is fermented with its whole bunches at very low temperatures, enhancing the floral characteristics of the wine. It is essential 90% whole cluster with the rest of the stems used to make the pied de cuve. Cincuenta y Cinco has the most tension of all of Piero’s wines. It is aged in a combination of mostly neutral oak barrels and cement.