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Tuesday 6 August 2019

De Martino Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2018

A remarkable De Martino Chilean red from Virgin Wines

There is quite a back-story to the winery behind this Chilean red; you don't need to know it to enjoy the wine, but for those interested, the longer version of De Martino is here.

The TL:DR is this: Chilean winemaker gets the backing of the winery owner to put the bigger-is-better machine into reverse and starts making more elegant, subtle, European-style wines.

This Cinsault is made in old amphoras - giant clay pots or "Viejas tinajas" - and has a lovely, juicy-vibrant quality for easy drinking with plenty of freshness and low tannins.

De Martino Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2018 (£14.99) toasty-smokey with juicy sour-cherry fruit and wild herbs; very fine tannins, Burgundian elegance and good underpinnings.


Serve slightly chilled as a summer aperitif or a picnic wine; match with beef carpaccio or salamis.

Doug Wregg's notes (quoted on Jancis Robinson's website): This wine rescues an old tradition deeply rooted in rural Chile: winemaking using large earthenware jars called tinajas. Once upon a time many farms used to make wine for their own consumption which they ferment and store in amphorae of various shapes and sizes.

The commercialisation of the Chilean wine industry has seen this tradition disappear, but a couple of years ago, the De Martino family decided to revive it and purchased as many clay pots as they could find including former ashtrays and holders of cactus plants!

This accords with De Martino's desire to row back from the throw-the-kitchen-sink-at-it winemaking style towards a more natural, nuanced approach involving respect for terroir and vintage. De Martino have converted most of their vineyards to organic viticulture; they now use natural yeasts in the winemaking, and from 2011 eliminated all new oak from their winemaking practices – a huge departure for a relatively commercial Chilean winery.

Viejas Tinajas has been fermented and aged as naturally as possible in amphorae over 100 years old, without intervention and in search of a faithful reflection of its origin. An old, unirrigated vineyard in the heart of the Coastal Mountain Range in the Itata Valley gives life to this wine, some 400 kilometres to the south of Santiago and just 22 kilometres from the Pacific Ocean.

Consider this: Cinsault, old bush vines (35 hl/ha yields), on granitic soils, farmed with horses, whole berries, no punch down, gentle pressing. In the winter the malolactic is ready. The wine is not filtered or fined and there is no added sulphur. No pumps are used with the tinajas, only good old-fashioned sucking.

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