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MELI Carignan 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
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.
The Maipo Valley is Chile’s most famous wine region. Set in the country’s Central Valley, it is warm and quite dry, often necessitating the use of irrigation. The soils here tend to be high in salinity and low in potassium, which can present viticultural challenges, but new vineyard management techniques have been implemented to combat these issues.
The climate in Maipo is best-suited for ripe, full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon (the region’s most widely planted grape), Merlot, Syrah, and Carmenère, originally a Bordeaux variety which has found a successful home in Chile. White wines are also produced, especially near the cooler coast, from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
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, Cyprus, Turkey, 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.