Mission Codename Lost & Found
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate hyped this wine as “another dimension of Carménère”, further adding “you need to try this one”. We’re lowering the barrier to entry on this 94-point gem by cutting the price to under $30 thanks to a hefty 47% discount. So maybe grab a few now, and come back to get your fill on the backstory…
Now, as far as benchmarks go, this bottle of Carménère is PERFECT to tell the unique story of this equally unique grape.
You DID get a few, right? Great, now buckle up!
Once upon a time in 19th century Bordeaux, there was a cherished 6th variety, called Carménère. It accentuated the classic Claret blends with depth, complexity, and spice. Then came the Phylloxera epidemic, killing all of Bordeaux’s vines, setting a region of prospering vineyards and legendary wines back many decades to a dark age. As the dust settled, new plantings of Cabernets (Sauvignon & Franc), Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec thrived, while Carménère, the ficklest of all to grow, was forgotten to extinction.
Or so they thought. Little did history know that about a century before that settlers to the burgeoning colonial outpost of Chile brought their Bordeaux cuttings with them to carry their winemaking tradition across the Atlantic. Within them, it was Merlot that rose to immense popularity, akin to Malbec, on the Argentine side of the Andes. Again, so they thought. Until the 1990s that is.
A French ampelographer, a “leaf-teller” if you will, was walking said “Merlot” vineyards when he noticed that they were not. A closer look and all the signs were there. It was the first sighting of Carménère since Phylloxera. Further research was to reveal that roughly half of Chile’s prized “Merlot” was in fact the lost grape of Bordeaux. The discovery and renaissance of Carménère thus became the most fascinating chapter in modern viticulture and winemaking.
Part fairy tale, part nerd science, we celebrate Carménère, the closest relative of Cabernets, and Merlot in existence, with an example from THE FIRST WINERY to ever label a wine Carménère back in 1996, and therefore one that just cannot be any more authentic, purer and tastier…
A hauntingly vivid, medium garnet with ruby highlights. Currants, plum, orange peel, and clove, the nose sits at that perfect juncture of classic Bordeaux, Loire, and Napa reds. Refreshingly herbal on the palate, with tea leaf and eucalyptus, laced with red, and blue fruits all over. The finish is all about a serious grip and complexity lasting for over a minute, with tomato skin and exotic spice notes lingering along. One of a kind, this is ready for a creative cheese and charcuterie spread with nuts and dried fruits too.
Decanter lists Marcelo Retamal as one of the “30 most influencing winemakers” IN THE WORLD, also crowning him the “#1 winemaker in South America!” Master of Wine Tim Atkin praised him as “arguably the most influential winemaker in Chile, a man who has had a radical impact on the way his country makes wine” influencing many superstars, including international consultants.
94 Points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“The top Carménère at De Martino is the 2014 Single Vineyard Alto de Piedras, sourced from a plot planted on one of the stony alluvial terraces of the Maipo River which suits the variety to avoid green aromas and flavors in its wines. They want to offer a typical Carménère with spice, tobacco leaves and red fruit notes, but without too much alcohol, over-ripeness or excess oak to try to cover the herbal tones. 2014 was a good year for Carménère, with moderate yields. This is another dimension of Carménère, trying to look for dry-farming characteristics in a zone that needs irrigation. They achieve complete ripeness of the grape avoiding the vegetal aromas and the high alcohol. This is subtle, austere, serious in a (good) Bordeaux way (think Lafleur) with hints of tobacco leaves and spices. There is superb balance in the palate, and it feels very young, with ultra-refined chalky tannins and good freshness. This is the style of Carménère I like, but it’s very hard to get, and it’s possibly unique in Chile. …you need to try this one, because it will change your perception of the grape. Drink 2017-2021.”
What the Winery Says
2014 'Alto de Piedras' Maipo Valley Carménère
- Marcelo Retamal
- 100% Carménère
- Maipo Valley, Chile
- 100% Organically Grown Alto de Piedras Vineyard
- Residual sugar
- 1.79 g/L
- Total acidity
- 4.69 g/L
- 100% stainless steel, 5 days of post-ferment cold soak
- 30 months
- Second use 5,000-liter oak foudres