(2020) From the Los Lingues vineyard in Colchagua, 60 kilometres from the Pacific coast, this is 100% Carmenere, 85% of which was aged 14 months in new and second-fill French oak barrels, 15% in large un-toasted oak vats, and a further 12 in bottle before release. It is a glossy, ripe wine aromatically, deep black cherry and blackberry aromas, a refined graphite and cedar in the background. In the mouth the fruit is really intense, there's a hint of raisiny intensity, but more of the cherry flesh and tartness, the stripe of tannin from fruit and barrels, a little toastiness, and pert acidity all giving it a nice sense of freshness in the finish despite the fruit concentration and grippiness.
(2020) The winemaking recipe here is exactly the same as for the 2017, with fruit from Los Lingues and matured in 85% small French oak, 15% in large untoasted barrels, for 14 months, but of course from a cooler year. From Los Lingues around 360 metres above sea level. This harvest was three weeks later than 2017, with an extremely cool spring and warm summer. In 2017 it was hot from beginning to end, hence the earlier picking. More savoury, more earthy and a touch more herbaceous, like undergrowth, cool, in profile. The fruit is sweet and ripe on the palate, a pure blackcurrant character, fairly brisk tannins and acids giving grip and juiciness, and it finishes quite tangy with sour cherry freshness.
(2020) The Higuera vineyard in the more southerly region of Maule is the source of this wine. Maturation is 85% in French oak, but no new oak, and 15% in untoasted oak casks where it spends 12 months, plus six months more in bottle before release. Maule vineyard planted in 1994. Beautifully aromatic, real perfume here soaring from the glass, super ripe and creamy berries, spices and a kirsch-like lift, perhaps a little hint of the pyrazine greenness, but only a hint. Flooded with fruit on the palate, ripe, fleshy, chocolate-smooth tanins, and absolutely delicious to drink. There is spice and some grippiness in the finish, in a powerful and luscious wine.
(2020) Also from Colchagua Valley, but this time from Lolol, 20 kilometres closer to the Ocean than Los Lingues. Winemaking is identical to CA1, combining 85% small French oak and large untoasted foudres. More lifted, a little volatile character (in a very positive way), with a hint of acetone to floral and cherry and a hint of white pepper. Great sweetness in the mouth, a light balsamic touch, but then the very grippy tannins kick in, lots of powdery, dry structural tannins dry the mouth, good acidity too, balancing the sweet fruit and touch of chocolate. The character is quite different, mostly to do with aromatic perfume and that freshness in the finish.
(2020) A change of pace here, with a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Tempranillo coming from the Casablanca Valley, just 22 kmilometres from the coast. The Syrah is raised for 14 months in untoasted oak foudres, the Tempranillo in amphorae. That treatment adds a savoury, tapendade and charcuterie character, a touch of ashy quality or leafiness (but not green), and a meatiness blending with red fruit freshness on the palate. It's a wine with lovely sweetness and textural weight in the mouth, and that sense of meatiness and savoury grip with balanced acidity into the finish.
(2020) Tank sample. A dark, inky, almost slatey character on the nose, with Asian dried plum and black cherry fruit. This is 100% Manseng Noir, that sees no oak, and though the palate has smoothness and fruit density, the vigorous acidity gives it real spine and inky dryness, with plenty of juicy dark, very dry tapenade and cherry character. Intriguing, though still to make it to the UK.
(2020) The entry level for the white wines tasted here is a blend of 70% Gros Manseng, 25% Petit Courbu and Arrufiac. Lovely and appealing nose, plenty of zippy but tropical fruit, peach and nectarine over-flowing with these primary aromas, then a lovely hint of oiliness to the texture, a real bitter orange tang to the acidity, pithy and zesty, and a keen, long edge to the finish. Great value and very stylish.
(2020) The blend for the top red is 75% Tannat, 15% Pinenc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Again from limestone and clay, but also sandy soils, typical of the Bas Armagnac region. A powerful nose of black and sour cherry, with some cool and elegant graphite character. Lots of smoothness in texture, plenty of tannin and bright cherry, great mid-palate sweetness, but the structure builds and grips to the finish, staying fresh and grippy, concentrated and delicious, and surely with ageing potential.
(2020) Around 65% of this is Gros Manseng, vinified in barrel, 30% Petit Courbu and 5% Arrufiac. These are 50-year old vines from a special parcel on a cooler slope on clay and limestone and it is Plaimont's top white cuvée. From a hot year this has retained its freshness very well. There's a charming peachy, downy fruitiness on the nose, but also a zesty lemon vibrancy and a smoothing note of nuttiness and light toast. In the mouth it has weight and texture, a certain fat in the mid-palate, vanilla and a nuance of honey, but that lemony thrust of the acidity tensions the whole picture, giving this fine precision and length. Olivier recommends with a special ham produced in the region, and I can see that working well.
(2020) Again that big difference in climate to the 2019 vintage, this a much cooler year and the wine shows a fine, Cru Beaujolais-like purity of red fruit and minerality, taut with the tannins gentle and refined and the acidity juicy into the finish. Fruity, but the bite of sour cherry to the acidity adds a lovely freshness. Not currently in the UK.