Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

A gem from Chile

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.

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