(2022) The Criolla grapes of South America are ancestors of the grapes originally introduced by Spanish and other European settlers. This is a lovely expression, relatively pale and translucent in colour, with soft, Pinot-like autumnal aromas, then bright red fruit on the palate, but with an earthy and leafy softness that is attractively mellow and highly quaffable.
(2022) A Bordeaux blend aged six months with French oak staves, but the colour is a vibrant cerise/violet. Primary aromas, the 12 months in oak barely discernable. Some quite wild garrique notes comes through, a little herbaceousness that works well. The palate has juiciness to spare, the merlot adding extra creaminess and red fruit softness perhaps, into a gentle finish supported by good acids and moderate tannins.
(2021) A blend of 85% Cinsault and País, with grapes from the dry Secano Interior of the Itata Valley, another of the southern valleys now appearing more frequently on labels. This is from a sub-label of Morandé, called 'Morandé Adventure', where winemakers and collaborations produce smaller volumes of more experimental wines. 'Creole' because the dry-farmed Cinsault and País are strongly rooted in the Secano Interior. Winemaker Ricardo Baettig makes this from granitic-clay soils, using carbonic maceration in concrete eggs, and with natural yeasts, and the País partky fermented in older French oak. The colour is a vivid violet-pink, the nose having soft, pulpy raspberry and strawberry fruit and a little cherry bubblegum note, the palate dry and nicely balancing that ripe, juicy and sweet fruit with a sour cherry and orange tang of acidity, the light- to medium-bodied wine finishing on spicy tannins and freshness.
(2021) Mostly Carignan with País and Cinsault, this comes from the Intrépido range, and from fruit grown in the Maule valley. Creamy and quite plush on the nose, there's some a nutmeg, perhaps tree bark note that adds a dimension to the warm berry fruit. The palate combines that ripe, fleshy plum and cherry fruitiness with nicely creamy tannins, a lovely juicy cherry-skin acidity, and again a background of spice and some vanilla. Very delicious drinking at a modest price.
(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.
(2019) Spicy, full-bodied and rich, there's also elegance to the tannins and acidity of this wine, perhaps due to the relative altitude of the vineyards in the Puente Alto sub-region of Maipo, which sit at almost 650 metres above sea level. Brimming with chocolate, spice and blackcurrant aromas, the palate is juicy and lively, the refreshing burst of acidity seeing to that. Price and stockist quoted at time of review is for the 2015 vintage.
(2018) Carmen was one of my first go-to Chilean producers, thanks largely to a wine called 'Grand Vidure', a real favourite of mine in the 1990s, and one of the first wave of Carmenere-based wines before the variety became established as Chile's 'signature' grape. Here we have Carignan, one of Chile's current superstar grapes thanks to old-vine plantings, this aged 12 months in French oak. There's an interesting melange of meat-stock cherry and vine fruit on the nose, a dark and savoury character. In the mouth it's very much about the fruit, quite sinewy and chewy, the oak well into the background, with a balanced savoury finish.
(2016) Maule fruit, 15 months in oak. 70% Syrah and 30% Carignan from dry farmed vineyards. Named after a volcano on the border with Bolivia, which has the highest lake in Chile that is home to colonies of flamingos. A touch closed, but a deep and meaty fruit richness comes through with swirling, and a full, dry extract weight of fruit, quite dry and grippy, but with delicious fruitcake and prune ripeness.
(2016) Lovely raspberry lift to this, a real sense of elegant freshness fom the first sniff, with little spice and tobacco touches, and some fudge notes, and still that fine red fruit freshness. The palate has that lovely nut husk hint of dryness, but such delightful wine.