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Cauquenes connection

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Cuvée Del Maule 2011, Agricola Cuvelier ($27.43, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Based in Bordeaux, the Cuveliers are a longstanding family of négociants that eventually acquired three local estates, the best-known of which is Léoville Poyferré. In the late 1990s, they founded a family-owned estate in Argentina, Cuvelier Los Andes. After obtaining a wine-growing degree in 2007, scion Baptiste travelled to Chile to work with his friend Louis-Antoine Luyt, who introduced him to the Cauquenes region of the Maule Valley. He soon realized he could make there a red complementary to the family’s Argentinian reds, the Cuvée del Maule, the first vintage of which was the 2009. (Haven’t run across an explanation as to why Maule is written MaoLee on the label – interference from the appellation authorities perhaps? – but that’s the only place I see it spelled thus.) The 2011 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (42%), Carignan (30%), Pais (8%), Carmenère (8%), Cinsault (7%) and Merlot (5%) from organically dry-farmed, fair-trade grapes grown under contract. Cuvelier provided viticultural advice to the growers and had the fruit harvested by his team. Most of the Cabernet was destemmed, given four to six days cold maceration and fermented in temperature-controlled (24°C) tanks with pump-overs early on. The Camenère, Carignan and Pais were fermented using carbonic maceration. The Cinsault, Merlot and remaining Cabernet were fermented in small open tanks with punch-downs early on and manually pressed before fermentation ended. The wines were transferred to fourth- and fifth-fill French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and maturation. All fermentations were spontaneous. Indeed, the only additive was a tiny amount (35 mg/L) of sulphur dioxide at bottling. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Jammy, juicy, earthy, spicy, with notes of “green pepper” and “black peppercorns.” Fruit-forward in the manner of a New World wine yet not quite full-bodied. The fruit? Ripe-sweet blackberry and cassis. Has good structure (round tannins, bright acidity) but not a lot of depth. Minerals and herbs (tobacco? mint?) come out on the finish. Very drinkable though not a keeper. Probably a great match with red meat on the barbecue. (Buy again? Sure.)

Cauquenina 2013, Clos des Fous ($26.80, 12496082)
Per the agent, a blend of Carignan (36%), Syrah (23%), Carmenère (23%) and Malbec (18%); some commenters also claim Pais and Portugais Bleu are present. In any case, the grapes came from purchased, dry-farmed, organically grown old vines in the Itata Valley. Fermented in concrete tanks using indigenous yeasts “when possible.” A fraction of the wine was matured in new French oak barrels, the rest in second-fill barrels. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Réserve & Sélection/Trialto.
Savoury nose of plum, spice, old wood and earth with chinotto overtones. On the lighter side of full-bodied. Round and balanced. The red fruit is soft, the acidity and tannins smooth. Some tobacco and coffee scent the finish. Seems more structured than the Cuvelier yet also somehow simpler, at least at this stage in its development. Quite food friendly, I’d guess – not only grilled meat but also stews and vegetarian casseroles. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 6 of 7

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Written by carswell

May 9, 2017 at 11:41

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