Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Archive for the ‘Chile’ Category

A gem from Chile

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I’ve had the pleasure of tasting De Martino El Léon, single vineyard Carignan 2006 three times now over the past four or five months. Each time it has impressed me enormously. It has a a huge spicy smell of black cherry with a hint of herbs and a deep, chewy, hugely satisfying flavour of damsons, black cherries, with the rich fruit lifted by juicy acidity and rounded off by firm, ripe tannins.

It was made in the Maule Valley, quite near the coast, from unirrigated vines planted after the catastrophic earthquake of 1939  in an attempt to rebuild the economy by providing the local growers with something more interesting than Pais. The full story was told by Chilean journalist Eduardo Brethauer at a seminar for members of the Circle of Wine Writers in London in May. Unfortunately these vines all but forgotten until in 1995 the quality of the fruit was spotted by a  local winery. There are now around fourteen Maule wineries producing high-end Carignan. It is, I think, one of the most exciting flavours to have come out of Chile in recent years, and a fascinating counterpoint to the elegance of some of the wines emerging from the newer cool climate sites.

Until recently the wines have been hard to find, but this gem is now available in Marks and Spencer at just £10.99 – a gift.

Bad news from Chile

Friday, March 5th, 2010

I’ve heard from Zenen Santana-Delgado at Traidcraft that the Sagrada Familia project was badly affected by the Chilean earthquake.

The sad news is that  8 people from  one of the 22 member families were killed when their house fell down during the earthquake and that the homes of four other families were also completely destroyed.

The two wineries with which they work also suffered considerable damage. The full extent of this is not yet clear, but Sagarada Familia’s Lautaro brand lost around 100 000 litres of of stock.

Power and water supplies have been cut – and, of course, all this has happened right in the middle of harvest. It seems unlikely that much wine will be made in 2010.

It is becoming clear that Sagrada Familia are not the only producers to have been so tragically affected by the earthquake. If  ever there was a time to buy Chilean wine, surely it’s now.

Worrying News from Chile

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

You may have seen my feature on Lautaro Wines in Friday’s Journal, written to mark fairtrade fortnight: I had just had the very real pleasure of meeting Raul Navarrete the General Manager of Sagrada Familia, the Chilean co-op that make the wine.

I have just received an email from Zenen Santana-Delgrado from Traidcraft, their UK  partners.

He writes:  “It seems the powerful earthquake that had hit Chile yesterday has affected quite badly the region where the Lautaro Wines farmers & staff live. There is a lot of destruction in the city of Curico; and the villages in the surrounding areas.”

I have asked Zene to let me know as soon as he has more news. In the meantime, please spare a thought for the many other Chilean grape farmers affected by the earthquake – and grape growers in Madeira whose livelihood has been threatened by the recent storms.