Ventisquero Debuts High-Altitude Carménère from Apalta

© Photo provided

© Photo provided

If you thought you knew Carménère, you must think again. Chilean producer Ventisquero launched a single-vineyard Carménère that focuses on elegance, purity and fruit.

Grown on a single block of a single vineyard at 500m/1,640ft in Apalta, Colchagua Valley, the wine comes as a new and different expression of this grape variety. Viticulturist Sergio Hormazabal and winemaker Felipe Tosso realised how special the parcel of this 2001-planted vineyard was when they selected wines to be blended for their Vertice wine, a Syrah- Carménère blend made in collaboration with Australian winemaker John Duval. Before being bottled separately, the Carménère of this block went towards this prestige bottling.

The vineyard, called La Robleria, is on a south-facing slope of a 1,500m/4,921ft mountain – which in the southern hemisphere is the cooler side – it thus is more shaded and gets more rain. This means that the vines only have to be irrigated in hot years and are almost dry-farmed. Completely surrounded by native forest, the hillside is special, as the granitic bedrock is covered with reddish clay mixed with a stone content of between 30-50%. The block where the Carménère is grown, however, has a stone content of up to 60% and much deeper clay which means that the vine roots can penetrate deeper, yielding little but exquisite fruit. “The soil is like a sponge that takes all the humidity and irrigation is minimal,” Hormazabal said. “We all fell in love with this magical place.”

This Carménère carries none of the leafiness usually associated with the variety and shines with exquisite purity. In order not to obscure the fruit, winemaker Felipe Tosso decided to age the wine in previously used 300l barrels of French oak and in large foudres for 22 months. The name Obliqua was chosen as is means ‘ascending line’ in Latin. A large old Chilean oak (Nothofagus oblicua) which grows in that top parcel of the vineyard was the inspiration for name and label.

“It’s not an opulent style of Carménère,” Tosso said. He is right, it is the freshness and heightened fruit expression which turn this into a real eye-opener. 2017 is the first vintage and retails at around £40/EUR 45. The world has a new expression of Carménère.

Ventisquero Obliqua Carménère 2017

SEE THE TASTING NOTE

Ventisquero Obliqua Carménère 2018

SEE THE TASTING NOTE

The top part of the Robleria vineyard with the single block and the name-giving oak tree of Obliqua.

The top part of the Robleria vineyard with the single block and the name-giving oak tree of Obliqua.

© Photo provided