Saturday, June 24 marked the biggest presentation of old-vine Chilean Carignan wines to ever occur in the United States in an intimate tasting held at Puro Chile in New York City.
Twenty-six Carignan varietal wines and blends, many of which have not yet been released in the United States, were presented to an intimate group of top wine writers to help attendees gain a better understanding for the grape as a whole and the specialty project VIGNO, which is focused on the promotion and preservation of this winemaking style.
Carignan was brought to Chile's Maule Valley many years ago and because Chile has not been affected by phylloxera, the vines remain on ungrafted, native rootstocks. Because of their age, these untrellised, bush vines were often neglected by the vineyard owners, who once considered all red grapes to be the same, labeling the vineyard plots "tinto," for red, instead of by the variety.
Old-vine Carignan is most prominent in the Caquenes area of Maule Valley and has set itself apart as a regional specialty as it is rarely found, if at all, anywhere else. The vines are dry-farmed, meaning no irrigation is used, and they truly express the diversity and potential of the region's terroir.
"The rediscovery of old vine Carignan and the vineyards Maule Valley are two of the most exciting things happening in Chilean wine today," explained Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer. "With a mix of local farmers, ambitious winemakers and some of Chile's most iconic wineries leading the charge, Chile continues to prove its versatility on the world wine stage with these incredible wines."
Dexheimer continued, "The group of Carignan wines tasted with Alder Yarrow and Gregory Del Piaz were proof that this variety is perfectly suited to the Maule Valley's warm and desert like climate. The wines ranged from simple and fruity to full on power houses with loads of complexity, depth and length. Bravo to these wineries, winemakers, farmers and to the VIGNO members for their efforts to preserve and create such great vineyards and wines!"