Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Comparative Chilean Carménère with TerraNoble

TerraNoble is a Chilean winery that was founded in 1993 with the intent to highlight wines from the Maule Valley. The following year, Chilean Merlot was correctly identified as Carménère, and TerraNoble committed itself to this rediscovered grape.  They chose to establish their winery and initial vineyard (La Higuera Vineyard) in an area called Valle del Claro within the San Clemente district - the highest region in the Maule Valley. Over the years TerraNoble expanded their holdings into the Casablanca and the Colchagua Valleys with the later including the Los Lingues Vineyard near the Andes and the Los Cactus Vineyard near the Pacific Coast. 

This development offered a clear opportunity to produce single vineyard Carménère wines using the same winemaking techniques in order to compare and contrast wines made near the coast to those produced near the mountains.  These techniques included an 8-12 day fermentation at 26-27º C and a one-two week post-fermentation maceration -- all depending on the lot. Finally, the lots were combined into French oak barrels and untoasted foudres to age for 14 months. The resultant wines were the 2017 TerraNoble CA1 and the 2017 TerraNoble CA2 (both $24.99). 

The CA1 comes from the Los Lingues Vineyard located at the base of the Andes Mountains and benefits from a temperate Mediterranean microclimate. At night though, the vineyard experiences a strong diurnal temperature to 20º C that helps the grapes ripen slowly over time while retaining acidity.  The soils consist of high draining sand, clay, and granite with few nutrients. These conditions help produce a fresh Carménère wine with lively acids, dark black fruit, a slightly green and herbaceous palate, and firm tannins. 

The CA2 derives from the coastal Los Cactus Vineyard which shares a similar temperate Mediterranean climate with a cooling effect from the constant sea breezes. The soils are silt and sandy loam over a granite base that provides good drainage and similar low nutrients.  In some respects, the CA2 is similar to the CA1 -- but with less intensity. It's lively, but not as acidic with a higher fruit expression.  And the tannins are slightly less firm. But the primary difference is the absence of herbs and green characters. 

They both are delicious wines, but my favorite was the 2016 TerraNoble CA1 ($24.99) that the winery snuck in as a vertical to the 2017 CA1 but with a slightly different winemaking protocol. This wine has a similar freshness and herbaceous green character, but the tannins were much more rounded. Excellent. 

Disclosure: We received samples from TerraNoble in order to share our opinion about their products, but this isn’t a sponsored post.

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