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This is pure, unadulterated, traditional Chilean Pipeno! Agricola Yumbel Estacion is operating as Chilean winemakers have for over a century. Their Paìs vines are over 100 years old, they winery operates with no electricity, the wines are fermented and aged in actual "pipeno" barrels made from native Chilean rauli trees, and there is nothing added, including sulfur. In the glass it has a deep red, almost opaque color with notes of raspberry, black cherry, lemongrass, and dried herbs on the nose. The palate juicy and lifted with crunchy red fruit, blackberry, and blood orange with grippy, mouth-coating tannins. Serve this slightly chilled with anything fresh off the grill! Michelle DeWyngaert
'Flama Roja' comes from the Bichi estate vineyard in Tecate, Mexico which is farmed biodynamically with no irrigation. Bichi is working hard to make put Mexican wine on the global stage and insistent that the wines be made as traditionally and naturally as possible working hand in hand with organic farmers in the region, and employing local craftsmen for the concrete tijana's used during fermentation. This bottling comes from young vines planted in 2004 and is a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Nebbiolo. You might think these three varieties would create something heavy and intensely tannic, but this is actually elegant and medium-bodied.
Noel Téllez works with a field blend from the San Antonio de la Minas vineyard in Baja at 1,066ft elevation close to the ocean of as yet unknown varieties. These are 69 year-old, gnarled vines that are farmed organically, without irrigation, and the grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The wine finishes fermentation in bottle with no SO2 added.This pet-nat is left just slightly off-dry making it juicy and luscious on the palate with notes of red candied apple, fresh raspberry, and strawberry preserves. The perfect aperitif!
There's a bit of mystery with some of the Bichi wines as they have yet to identify the grape variety/s growing in the San Antonio de la Minas Vineyard (some think it might be Dolcetto,others think it's more likely Cariñena because of its natural acidity), the other mystery is how it has taken us so long to appreciate Mexican wine! Based in Tecate, the Téllez family founded Bichi in 2012 farming abandoned vineyards and working with other neighboring growers who are also farming organically. The high elevation of the San Antonio de la Minas vineyard and its proximity to the Pacific Ocean help temper the warm Mexican climate. The 'Rosa del Peru' is made with hand-harvested, de-stemmed grapes, fermented in steel and then bottled as is with no filtration or SO2 added. This is a perfect fall rosé, a bit savory with good structure!
Jean-Marc Roulot brings his incredible experience in Burgundy to the southern hemisphere with this stunning collaboration with Piero Incisa della Rocchetta at Bodega Chacra. The Chardonnay for the Chacra bottling comes from 40 year-old vines grown on river stones covered with crushed white calcareous rock and this wine is the perfect medium for displaying the unique terroir of Rio Negro. The grapes are picked in the early morning and pressed immediately into vertical steel tanks and aged in a combination of 20% concrete eggs, 15% stainless steel tanks and 20% used French oak barrels for ten months. This bottle is immediately transporting with the scent of the wax seal made from the beeswax of the hives situated throughout the vineyard. Upon opening the nose is subtle, but with time and air, blossoms with notes of fresh chamomile and honeysuckle, white peach skin, crème fraîche, and wet stone. The palate highlights minerality and vibrancy; clean, fresh, powdery texture invoking the calcareous soil, with plenty of refreshing acidity tempered by the partial oak aging. Though I thoroughly enjoyed this bottle young, the balance and structure warrant cellaring for 5-10 years, if you can be so patient. Michelle DeWyngaert
Sin Azufre began as an experiment to see what would happen if you made a wine without any intervention; no temperature control, no pH readings and adjustments, and without the use of any sulfur. The result is a wine that feels "alive," that vibrates with energy and purity. Chacra was already doing conscientious work in the vineyard (farming biodynamically, encouraging biodiversity, etc) so it was a natural progression to attempt to make a wine as "naturally" as possible. This year's Sin Azufre, 100% Pinot Noir from their estate vineyard plot planted in 1955, is clean, expressive, and distinctly savory. The grapes are fermented in alternating layers of whole cluster and destemmed fruit, foot-crushed, and aged in a mixture of cement, neutral oak, and some steel. Bright red fruits mingle with notes of rosemary and soy sauce, a balance of umami and salinity that gives this wine a real sense of place. The palate is bright and lifted with soft, silky tannins. Despite the absence of sulfur as a preservative, this bottle held up for several days after opening. Michelle DeWyngaert
Cara Sur is bringing some of the oldest vines in Argentina back to the forefront. This bottling is 100% Criolla Chica (otherwise known as País in Chile, or Mission in California) from 80 year-old vines in San Juan.The grapes are partially destemmed and fermented in concrete before aging in large vats for eight months. Think of this wine like an Argentinian "pipeño" bright, pale, and dangerously easy to drink. On the nose are notes of rose petal, rooibos tea, and wild cherry, and the palate has just a hint of tannin, juicy cherry and cranberry, with a crisp, tart finish. Enjoy this with a slight chill on taco night or all on its own! Michelle DeWyngaert
The fruit for this bottling comes from 50 year-old vines grown in the stony soils of Barreal in San Juan. The wine is fermented to complete dryness and though it sees five days of skin contact, the wine still shows plenty of varietal character with bold tropical and floral aromatics, and just a hint of tannin on the palate. There is a surprising dichotomy of lightness in the wine matched equally with juicy roundness. On the nose is a bouquet of lillies and aromatic flowers with starfruit and juicy peach rings (in the best way), and the palate is bursting with ripe yellow peach, tangerine, and signature stony finish from the Cara Sur vineyards. Michelle DeWyngaert
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 grapes are aged in stainless steel and cement tanks for one year, then rest for eight months in bottle before release. Notes of black cherry, sage, raspberry puree, and dark, crushed rocks on the nose, and on the palate are gentle, barely there tannins with great concentration of flavor. Michelle DeWyngaert
Way up at 3,215 ft elevation is the picturesque Tikal estate in the famed Vista Flores area of the Uco Valley. The vineyards are organic and biodynamic certified and entirely ungrafted. Though this is a blend of 60% and 40% Syrah, lovers of classic Mendoza Malbec will find much to enjoy. Luscious, ripe blackberry, cassis, and plum preserves are balanced with more savory notes of black pepper, cedar, and a little cured meat. The wine is aged for 8 months in 20% new oak (mostly French, with some American barrels used), and 80% neutral barrels, giving it just a kiss of baking spice and vanilla. Michelle DeWyngaert
"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. The blend is 80% Pais and 20% Carignane from 120-year-old vines. Though the climate is very warm in Maule, the Humbolt Currant helps maintain acidity and keeps the fruit from over-ripening. The País is destemmed with a traditional zaranda, and the Carignan is left whole-cluster. Together the wine is aged briefly in concrete before bottlling.