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De Martino Gallardia Cinsault 2014
The winery has received a flurry of recognition from Chile’s most prestigious wine guide. The 2004 Guia de Vinos de Chile singled out De Martino winemaker Marcelo Retamal as "Winemaker of the Year" and named the Legado Sauvignon Blanc, Legado Carmenere and Gran Familia Cabernet Sauvignon as the top wines in their categories.
One of South America’s most important wine-producing countries, Chile is a reliable source of both budget-friendly wines and premium bottlings. Spanish settlers, Juan Jufre and Diego Garcia de Cáceres, most likely brought Vitis vinifera (Europe’s wine producing vine species) to the Central Valley of Chile some time in the 1550s. But Chile’s modern wine industry is largely the result of heavy investment from the 1990s.
Long and narrow, Chile is geographically isolated, bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Andes Mountains to the east and the Atacama desert to the north. These natural borders allowed Chile to avoid the disastrous phylloxera infestation in the late 1800s and as a result, vines are often planted on their own rootstock rather than grafted (as is the case in much of the wine producing world).
Chile’s vineyards vary widely in climate and soil type from north to south. The Coquimbo region in the far north contains the Elqui and Limari Valleys, where minimal rainfall and intense sunlight are offset by chilly breezes from the Humboldt Current. While historically focused solely on Pisco production, today this area finds success with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Aconcagua region contains the eponymous Aconcagua Valley—hot and dry and home to full-bodied red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot—as well as Casablanca Valley and San Antonio Valley, which focus on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The Central Valley is home to the Maipo, Rapel, Curicó and Maule Valleys, which produce a wide variety of red and white wines. Maipo in particular is known for Carmenère, Chile’s unofficial signature grape. In the up-and-coming southern regions of Bio Bio and Itata make excellent Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Cinsault is a charmer in the Rhone River Valley, offering up generous peppery and floral aromas and ripe strawberry flavors to its blends. It actually has been grown for centuries in the Languedoc and is a popular blending grape in most appellations of the Southern Rhone as well as other parts of the southern France. It thrives in any hot and windy climate, and finds success in many other countries, namely California, Chile, Corsica, Lebanon, northern Africa and is a parent grape alongside Pinot noir, of South Africa’s acclaimed red grape, Pinotage.
In the Glass
Though a minor portion of Chateauneuf du Pape, it plays an important role adding softness, lift, spice and an almost electric red fruit to blends. Southern France also makes some delightful Cinsault dominant rosés. On its own, it is supple, fresh and fruity with a hint of pepper or baking spice.
Cinsault pairs well with stews, gamey meats, rosemary chicken and roasted duck or winter squash.
Given its relatively long history in California, Cinsualt is often “hidden” in the Zinfandel blends of Sonoma and Contra Costa Counties. Historically planted alongside Zinfandel and other grapes, such as Petite Sirah or Mourvedre in the same vineyard, Cinsault is now an essential part of these so-called “field blends.”