Photo of old vines in Itata, Chile from pedroparrayfamilia.com

New World, Old Vines

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One of the first things you learn when you start studying wine, is the idea that there is a stylistic dichotomy between "New World" and "Old World." We are told that the Old World connotes a wine that is food-friendly, displays a sense of place and is made in a traditional way. Conversely, New World wines are seen as riper, more fruit-forward, and generally more concerned with grape variety than place. For many years I accepted this notion and decided that I simply preferred European wines. Today I feel like this is at best, a gross oversimplification, and at worst, downright inaccurate.  

The wines I have tried from Chile recently have firmly convinced me that despite being labeled “New World,” many show all of the hallmarks of an “Old World” sensibility. Although Chilean wines have only become a popular export item in the last ~30 years, there is actually a rich history of wine-making dating back to the 16th century. When the Spanish conquistadors colonized the territory they brought Vitus Vinifera vines with them; planting País (Listan Prieto/Mission), throughout the country. Because of its geographical isolation and soil, many of these vines are still own-rooted today! Bordered by the Andes Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, as well as the abundance of sandy soil has meant that Chile has, as yet, managed to avoid the plague of Phylloxera. The lack of disease pressure, and the relatively dry climate has meant that several winemakers today are finding success with more natural and organic farming; not so much a novel method, as it is a return to the minimalist techniques of their ancestors.  

I am thrilled to champion several Chilean winemakers who are creating terroir-driven wines from these impressively old vines; in direct contrast to the notion of "New World" wines. At Cacique Maravilla, winemaker Manuel Morgan Gutierrez makes a very traditional pipeño from vines that are over 250 years old, and a somewhat less traditional skin-contact Moscatel from 100+ year old vines, both with intense concentration of flavor! Pedro Parra, an expert in soil and terroir who consults for some of the top winemakers around the world, returns to his hometown in Chile each year where he makes wines from 80+ year old Cinsault vines. Grown on granite, these wines speak volumes about the unique climate and soil types of the Itata region. The wines of Herrera Alvarado are all about tradition and history. The winery uses no electricity, everything is done by hand, and they employ an old technique in the Marga Marga valley of fermenting on cow hides. And if you're looking for wines that are incredibly food-friendly and a great value, Viña Maitia makes a fun, fresh style of pipeño from a vineyard that was planted in 1895!  Michelle DeWyngaert

Cacique Maravilla 2019 Secano Interior Yumbel Moscatel de Alejandria

Sourced from 100 year old Moscatel d'Alexandria vines, this is a fun, juicy skin-contact wine from the natural winemakers of Cacique Maravilla. These vines are farmed without any agrochemicals or irrigation, and very little plowing.  The wines are equally unfussed with; no additives, fining, filtering, or sulfur added, just a pure expression of the vineyard. This vintage saw about 30% of the grapes used affected by botrytis, which was embraced and adds a honeyed spice note to the wine. The skins are left to macerate for 2-3 weeks which give it a nice grip and a touch of bitterness to balance out the ripe tangerine and sweet chamomile notes on the palate. Michelle DeWyngaert

  • white
  • 38 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Cacique Maravilla 2019 Secano Interior Yumbel Pais Pipeño

The 'pipa' in pipeño refers to an old Chilean tradition of making large batches of wine in open-top barrels and then distributing this wine by the jug-full, right from the barrel, throughout the neighborhood; a wine of, and for the community. With País vines at least 250 years old, winemaker Manuel Moraga Gutierrez continues the legacy of his ancestors. He uses a short maceration to keep this wine juicy and supremely drinkable. The nose is incredibly aromatic; peppery with lots of ripe purple plum, blackberry, raspberry, and a touch of smoke. The palate has a nice concentration and weight with subtle tannins and lots of acidity making this a great option with or without food. Michelle DeWyngaert

  • red
  • 31 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Pedro Parra y Familia 2017 Chile Valle del Itata Imaginador Cinsault

Pedro Parra is champion of terroir. After getting a PhD in the subject and consulting for some of biggest names in wine-making worldwide, he began this project with his family in their homeland, Itata, Chile.  The 'Imaginador' is a unique Cinsault from 70-80 year old head-trained vines, but because of the more than 200 year history of this vineyard, there are smatterings of Muscat, Semillon, Carignan, and País planted throughout that make their way into the blend. Pedro purposefully sought out pockets of granite for the vineyards he works with because of the structure it gives to the wines. The nose has a deep intensity of ripe red and black cherry and a touch of barnyard in the best way. The palate is fresh and focused, with the granite coming through clearly in the finish. Michelle DeWyngaert

  • red
  • 22 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Low Sulfur

Viña Maitia 2018 Maule Valley Pais Pipeño

"Pipeno" actually translates to barrel, but in this case it refers to an old tradition of making large barrels of juicy, quaffable wine for everyday drinking, and this wine is a perfect example. This wine is 80% Pais and 20% Carignane from 120-year-old vines.  I would describe this as a cheerful wine; full of juicy red fruits, tart cranberry, with hardly any tannin or extraction, and just enough body. Serve this chilled and happily enjoy a glass or two with or without food, but definitely with friends.  Michelle DeWyngaert

  • red
  • 21 in stock
  • $10.99

Viña Maitia 2018 Maule Valley Carignan Weon

This is an introduction to Chilean Carignan from David Marcel at Viña Maitia. Vines are about 70 years old, and the grapes are fermented in lagar, and aged in concrete. The aroma of fresh soil hits you first and a just a touch of barnyard followed by rich black plum, raspberry, and red apple skins. The palate is plush and juicy with soft, pleasant tannins making it easy to enjoy with or without food. The finish is distinctly stony and savory on this easy drinking medium-bodied wine. Michelle DeWyngaert

  • red
  • 11 in stock
  • $15.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur
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Herrera Alvarado 2018 Chile Valle Marga Marga 'Oro Negro'

 Drinking the wine from Carolina Alvarado and Arturo Herrera is like opening a time-capsule from 14th century Chile. Founded in 2003, the winery was built out of clay from their own vineyards and the winery continues to operate entirely by hand and with no electricity. They also employ the very traditional Marga Marga valley technique of fermenting the grapes on cow hides, which comes through in a faint, "I must be somewhere near a cow" kind of way. The 'Oro Negro' is a bottling of un-grafted 100+ year vines of Pais grown at 2600ft elevation in Colliguay. Fermented 100% whole cluster and aged for 15 months in neutral barrels before being bottled with nothing added or taken away. The nose of this wine is incredibly unique; a blend of faint leather mixed with wet stone, and a little pine, distinctly minerally. The palate is fresh and juicy with a solid structure and a savory, stony finish. Michelle DeWyngaert                                                                                                 

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $25.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Herrera Alvarado 2018 Chile Valle Marga Marga 'Cuero de Vaca'

Sometimes people forget that culture and history play a big role in terroir, not just the location. This is exemplified in the wines of Arturo Herrera and Carolina Alvarado. Working out of a barebones winery with no electricity, their  commitment to the winemaking traditions of their ancestors is not only commendable, but rewarded with beautiful, ethereal wines that have not just a sense, but a declaration of place. They practice the traditional Chilean technique of fermenting the grapes on taut cow hides and then pressing the juice through as a natural filter. You would expect this to give the wines an overwhelming barnyard quality but instead it leaves just a pleasant leathery aroma, and a savory quality to the wine. These old, own-rooted Pinot Noir vines display a lightness you only expect from cooler climates, and an enticing mix of dusty soil and crunchy red fruit. There is nothing added or subtracted from this wine, including SO2, so we do recommend that you drink this within a day of opening. Michelle DeWyngaert 

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Cacique Maravilla 2019 Secano Interior Yumbel Gutiflower

A pet-nat that is not for the faint of heart! This expression of Moscatel d'Alexandria, with a bit of Corinto and Torrontés, is bursting with aroma; notes of bright, tropical flowers, mango, and gardenia. The history of Caciques Maravilla winery in Bio Bio goes back all the way to 1776, with their Moscatel vines over 100 years old, giving the flavor of this wine incredible concentration. The wine is fully sparkling, but the bubbles are soft and pleasant, enrobed in the creamy texture of this unfiltered wine. Great as an aperitif or with flavorful curries! Michelle DeWyngaert

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Viña Maitia 2018 Maule Valley Pais Pipeño 1.5 L

"Pipeno" actually translates to barrel, but in this case it refers to an old tradition of making large barrels of juicy, quaffable wine for everyday drinking, and this wine is a perfect example. This wine is 80% Pais and 20% Carignane from 120-year-old vines. I would describe this as a cheerful wine; full of juicy red fruits, tart cranberry, with hardly any tannin or extraction, and just enough body. Serve this chilled and happily enjoy a glass or two with or without food, but definitely with friends. Michelle DeWyngaert

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99

  • Organic