WILD ABOUT WILD CARIGNAN
There can’t be grapes up there!
People scoff when I write about biodynamics and roll their eyes when the word natural breaks for cover. Now I introduce the notion of “wild wine” to you. Or rather wild vines because obviously grapes are harvested by human hands and the wine is being made. Having said these sixty year old Carignan vines are all over the shop, so to speak, crawling up trees, tangling with blackberry bushes, running along the ground, up yonder, down hither and generally as unruly as my hair during a not-so-gentle Hebridean zephyr. This lends a whole new dimension to the expression bush vines. The vineyard, if that is not an exaggeration, may be weaving its own tangled web, but I suppose the sheer act of hacking your way through the undergrowth with a pair of mean secateurs constitutes some sort of control, although it is not sophisticated canopy management as Richard Smart would recognise it.
The Villalobos family estate is located close to the village of Ranguili and is entitled to Colchagua Valley appellation of origin. Well, appellate this wine is all I can say. Colchagua is a region close to the coast, recognized for its dry summer days and refreshing cool nights.
The vineyard is essentially Carignan as far as anyone can ascertain, and was originally planted during the 1940’s and 50’s. Villalobos vines have never been treated; indeed, the vines have always grown wild, and free from any chemical processes for sixty years amongst native Chilean flora such as maitenes, rosehip, Culenes, pine trees, blackberry bushes etc. In fact, the Villalobos mission is the constant quest to produce a wine characterized by its unique qualities and the special Carignan variety, which had almost disappeared from Chile, and is rarely found in this particular region.
The wine cellar was founded in the sculpture workshop of Enrique Villalobos, in the Artists Valley located in the Colchagua Valley. “The art of sculpture and the art of wine-making are intrinsically linked in the creation process; that is, the modification and intervention of substances offered to us by nature, which the artist may turn into a unique and particular work of art.”
Given this context the winegrowers wish to distance themselves from the traditional industrial monoculture. Their main goal is to produce wines which reflect the seasonal conditions and qualities of the terroir, taking advantage of the organic and wild characteristic of the aged vines. This unique terroir allows them to harvest grapes which give the wine an aroma that is perfectly harmonized with the Chilean countryside.
The philosophy of Villalobos is based on absolute respect for the environment where the grapes are grown. Viticultural methods involve the use of draught horses and natural forms of herb control in order to keep the natural balance. Grapes are hand-harvested and since the vines grow amongst rosehip, blackberry bushes and other native plants, harvests are a logistical challenge to say the least!
Villalobos’ Carignan is neither filtered or fined and nothing is added to the wine which is allowed to ages slowly and naturally in French oak barrels. It is the colour of a dark rosé, there is no extraction or concentration, just clean, pretty lifted fruit supported by clean acids.
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