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MELI Carignan 2014
In 2005, she and her three adult sons bought a property with 60-year-old Carignane and Riesling vines in the Maule Valley. Using dry farming, Meli produces two unique wines — both unusual for Chile. These varieties, Riesling and Carignane, are well-suited to the cooler Maule Valley, where the growing season is long, with cool nights and warm days.
Maule is the Central Valley’s most southern and coolest zone, reaching a southern latitude of 35°S, yet it is still warmer and drier than Bío-Bío to its south. The Maule Valley enjoys success with a unique set of grapes.
It lays claim to the local variety, Pais (synonymous with Tinta Pais, which is actually Tempranillo), which has dominated much of the region’s area under vine until the recent past. Now many growers, not confined by the tradition and regulations of the Old World, also successfully grow Cabernet Sauvignon.
While Maule’s total area under vine remains relatively static, its old Carignan vineyards are undergoing a great revival. The VIGNO (Vignadores del Carignan Vintners) group, an association in charge of promoting this long-forgotten variety, is getting fantastic results from the old vines in its dry-farmed coastal zones.
The Maule includes the subregions of Talca, San Clemente, San Javier, Parral, Linares and Cauquenes.
Responsible for some of the most stunning old vine red wine on the planet, Carignan has an amazing capacity to survive dry, arid climates and still produce lovely, mouthwatering wine. In Spain it goes by the name of Mazuelo and while it may have originated there in the province of Aragón (with Grenache), its popularity lies elsewhere. It spread across countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, becoming ubiquitous throughout the south of France. Today it flourishes as a blending grape in the Languedoc-Roussillon and also growns in Sardinia, mainland Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, Croatia and Northern Africa. Likewise, producers in the New World—namely California and Chile—bottle excellent single-varietal Carignan wines.
In the Glass
This is a medium-bodied wine with dried cranberry and raspberry fruit. It can take on an attractive savory quality with alluring notes of baking spice, black tea, black licorice or earth.
Try Carignan with seared ahi, roasted turkey or duck, lamb gyros or chops, aged Gouda or Manchego and cured meats.
Historically Carignan did not enjoy the respect that it does today. In the mid 20th century, Carignan covered nearly 140,000 ha in Algeria, where it was made into low quality bulk and blending wine to supply mass-market demand.