The discovery of forgotten old vines in Chile’s Itata Valley is not unlike SA’s Old Vine Revolution. In fact, the idea was born when one of Chile’s hottest winemakers, Leonardo Erazo…

The discovery of forgotten old vines in Chile’s Itata Valley is not unlike SA’s Old Vine Revolution. In fact, the idea was born when one of Chile’s hottest winemakers, Leonardo Erazo Lynch, did his Masters at Stellenbosch University. ‘Rogue Vine wines are the result of looking at things from another perspective,’ says Leonardo who is helping to save the diminishing old vines and realise their quality.

Recently named as one of Decanter’s Top 10 Winemakers from South America, Leonardo produces wine on both sides of the Andes. As Technical Director of Altos Los Amigos in Mendoza, he focuses on Malbec from limestone soils. However, his Itata project is more hands-on, producing natural wines with low alcohol and sulphur levels. They represent what he wants in wine: a sense of origin, balance, personality and purity.

The Itata Valley, part of the Bío Bío region and 500km south of Santiago, was first planted in 1551. It lost fame in the 1800s when wine production moved to easily-irrigated Central Chile. Itata is close to the ocean, offering a cool climate and pure granitic terroir. Leonardo works the old bush vines organically with horses to produce fresh wines with character, personality and a sense of Itata. See more here.

Included in the range is an old vine Sémillon, Carignan, Malbec and Moscatel. The Grand Itata Tinto 2015 is 95% Cinsaut from 50-year-old vines among other varieties, including País. It shows a slightly herbal, savoury backbone and the red fruit that is so typical of Chilean wines. It is completely different to local Cinsaut however!

Interested? Buy a mixed pack, or join us at the Rogue Vine tasting in Cape Town on Friday, 27 October at 16h00. Leonardo will be streamed live from Chile on Facebook at the same time to tell us about the wines and his journey.

Tasting notes:

Rogue Vine, Grand Itata Tinto 2015 – R 345
Who needs oak when you’ve got granite soils? This blend of Cinsaut with 5% País is fresh and beautifully structured with notes of wild Mediterranean herbs, raspberry and ginger spice. – Decanter, 94/100

Rogue Vine, Grand Itata Blanco Riesling Moscatel 2015 – R 345
Produced with a blend of Moscatel, Riesling, Sémillon and Chasselas (locally known as Corinto) from a vineyard planted in 1922 on granite soils. It was pressed in open presses and fermented in concrete tanks with indigenous yeasts without temperature control. After racking it from the lees, a small portion was moved to used 500-liter oak vats while the majority was returned to the same concrete vats where it matured for one year before bottling in February 2016. There is more Moscatel and Riesling in the blend, but even if they are very aromatic grapes, you won’t get their primary, fruit-driven aromas as this is more austere and more about the place and the soil than the varieties. The palate is also very tasty and with the tasty, fresh feeling from the granite. – Wine Advocate, 92/100

Rogue Vine, Jamón Jamón Moscatel 2016 – R 345
The new 2015 Jamón, Jamón from the Grand Itata range is a skin-fermented Moscatel in the Itata tradition with extended maceration; it was kept in concrete with the skins for two months. The vines were planted in the 1930s on granite soils and are head-pruned and dry-farmed. It matured in old 500-liter oak barrels until February 2016. This is very, very expressive in the nose with notes of quince, flowers and orange peel. It’s also spicy. The palate is medium-bodied, with very fine tannins. A white for white meat. Only 600 were produced in this first vintage, which was born almost as an accident; volumes should grow in future vintages. – Wine Advocate, 92/100                                               

Rogue Vine, El Insolente Carignan 2014 – N/A
If you want to show someone who’s never been to Itata why the place is so exciting, give them a bottle of this amazing, old vine Carignan. – Tim Atkin MW, 95/100     

Rogue Vine, Macho Anciano Malbec 2015 – R 550
The 2013 Macho Anciano Single Vineyard is a Malbec from a cool climate vineyard planted in 1920 and farmed in the traditional way in Itata, head-pruned and non-irrigated on the classical granite soils. The wine matured for two years in cement vats before bottling. Dark in color, there is something earthy and organic, hinting on cured meat and wet soil aromas intermixed with the flowers and dry plums in the background. The palate is medium-bodied with soft, polished tannins with good acidity and liveliness. The 2015 I previewed is much cleaner; they got rid of the barrels they were using and the wine is fermented and kept in cement spheres. I look forward to the newer vintage. – Wine Advocate, 88/100

Rogue Vine, Super Itata Blanco Sémillon 2014 – N/A
Fashioned from 100-year-old Sémillon vines and made naturally, this is a sweetly fruited, rich wine with viscosity and savoury depth. The nose shows hints of Sémillon’s waxy intrigue while the palate shows green and yellow fruits, with almost a hint of peppery spice. It is broad, long and textured. Only 432 bottles made! – Roland Peens (October 2017)

 

 

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