Caliterra – Chile

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Caliterra is a ‘sustainable’ winemaking project originally set up by a partnership of Robert Mondavi and Vina Errazuriz. First planted in just 1997 the estate has undergone a number of changes in that time. The first plantings were high density, low trained vines of the sort you might expect to see in Bordeaux (or indeed Napa). Whereas newer plantings are now planted at a lower density and trained higher with a view that the vines benefit from more canopy which prevents the fruit from getting scorched in the incredibly bright sunshine. Hillside vineyards were only added in 2005 and 2008 and so much of the potential of this estate is still waiting to be discovered as these vines increase in age. In order to prevent disease among the vines because of this lush canopy the team hollow out air flow channels from the middle of the canopy to increase air flow.

It’s a fascinating project and the vineyards are alive with wildlife, hundreds of wild flowers, insects and birds can be seen while huge birds of prey circle overhead hunting for mice. It’s a brilliant place to visit as an ex environmental biologist with anl interest in habitat management, who sees the wildlife corridors and work that is carried out with open eyes.

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The wines

Tributo Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – Leyda

Grassy aromatic Sauvignon, with  lots of herbaceous notes and just a touch of mineral. Inexpensive and if I’m going to criticise anything then I’d like some more intensity to the fruit to balance the alcohol a little better.

Tributo Chardonnay 2012 – Casablanca

Another inexpensive wine this has good levels of acidity, is crip with  slight sour citrus fruit character. Crunchy fruit with a bit of smokey oak – not at all bad at the price – perhaps a tad short but it is a value wine.

Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Central Valley

Ripe tropical notes, fruit forward with some mineral notes. Simple, easy to drink and whilst it isn’t terribly complex it doesn’t make the mistake of trying too hard.

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Tributo Carmenere 2011

Rich, dark and spicy fruit. Good length and concentration perhaps just a little one dimensional but soft, smooth and highly drinkable.

Tributo Malbec 2011

Contains 5% Syrah – Brambly dark fruits, lots of sweet spice, long on the finish with lovely ripe fruit, and textural grippy tannins. It shows some nice freshness which carries onto the finish.

Tributo Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Varietally true with good concentration and lovely texture. The tannins are pretty ripe and fine whilst the wine has good levels of freshness.

Tributo Syrah 2011

Good freshness and strucutre, it’s a very correct wine that shows it’s character in a nice enough way. I’d like to be a little bit more excited by it.

Edicion Limitada M 2011

A ‘Mediterranean’ blend of 76% Syhrah, 16% Mourvedre, 4% Pinot Grigio and 4% Rousanne. Quite interesting – it has a big structure with high concentration of pure fruit, some lovely perfume and some old boot leather. Quite enjoyed this one.

Edicion Limitada B 2011

A ‘Bordeaux’ blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet  Franc, 13% Petit Verdot,  9% Merlot. This was quite obviously a Bordeaux blend made to look like a Chilean Claret, it comes across as quite correct with the right blackcurrant fruit, supple tannins, spice and elegance but for me doesn’t work as well as the ‘M’. Perhaps a touch hollow across the mid palate. Nothing ‘wrong’ with the wine but not exciting at the price – perhaps it is just too immature?

Edicion Limitada A 2011

An ‘Andean’ blend of 46% Carmenere and 54% Malbec. Tight, tannic and structurally big but I really enjoyed the fruit profile mixing the sweet brambly nature of the Malbec with the more reserved slightly leafy notes of the Carmenere. It works really well.

Cenit 2011

The top wine from Caliterra, 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Malbec, 11% Petit Verdot, 11% CarmenereQuite tight and reserved on the nose it has a slightly meaty aroma – I’m not certain this is a good bottle. The palate certainly has some interest. We were told that this was bottle just the week before so possibly some weird things going on. I don’t want to judge it on that basis now.

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