2016 De Martino Gallardia Cinsault
Producer: De Martino
Region: Itata Valley, Chile
Wine & Spirits, 92 Points
Here we have another hidden gem (and perhaps the most unusual on this list), buried in the resplendent treasure trove that is legendary British importer Michael Broadbent’s renowned portfolio. Despite a somewhat second-class status as a blending grape in France’s southern Rhône valley and Languedoc-Roussillon, Cinsault has become a rather vital commercial grape and the fourth most widely-planted variety in France and the workhorse varietal in rosé production.
It seems the same essential characteristics favored by French growers, its heat tolerance and naturally high acidity, are quite valuable in the warm climates of South Africa, Australia and California’s Central Valley. What is happening at De Martino’s estate off the Pacific coast in Chile’s Itata Valley is another story entirely: An oddly harmonious marriage of grape and location.
Fourth-generation winegrowing family De Martino has a proud tradition dating back to 1934 when the first wines were produced in the more northern Maipo Valley. Moving 150 miles south to Itata we find Cinsault vines up to 110 years old rooted in granite soils, yielding extremely fresh and elegant wines with seductive aromatics: At once both floral and smoky, showing dried rose petal, peat, camphor and fennel. The palate is a radiant burst of sour cherries, licorice, tobacco and underbrush.
This super-value bottling showcases fruit from the younger plantings in living soils which are painstakingly dry farmed, plowed by horse & hand and see no chemical pesticide treatments. The vines benefit from a sunny climate moderated by the coastal breezes and diurnal temperature variations that allow for a longer growing season, slower ripening and retention of natural acidity.
While there might not be a standard template for a “textbook Cinsault”, De Martino has certainly won us over with this exceptional example from a unique terroir. This wine consistently reminds me of sitting by a forest campfire. - Jordan Wardlaw, Import Wine Specialist
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