2011 Almaviva 智利王
The 2011 Almaviva, from a cool, dry vintage, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot which feels young, fresh, serious and quite classical-styled with notes of cassis, graphite and ripe black fruit, but also some raspberries and aromas of sweet spices, licorice and fennel. It has a special brightness and light, starting to slowly develop some complexity. The palate is concentrated, medium to full-bodied with ripe, round tannins, no edges, good concentration and weight. It’s still a baby, a little marked by the oak, but with enough density and freshness to come into greater balance. It should grow up slowly and live a long life. Today I see this 2011 slightly above the 2010, slightly more complex. Drink 2016-2029.
Almaviva is the joint venture of Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Concha y Toro in Puente Alto, the small appellation for luxury Cabernet Sauvignon in the Maipo Valley. Michel Friou arrived in Chile through Paul Pontallier from Chateau Margaux to do a couple of harvests at their Aquitania winery, and was later at Lapostolle until 2004. Since 2007 he has been the winemaker at Almaviva. I met him to taste the latest vintages and discuss the wines. They produce two labels from their 85 hectares of vineyards, but their second wine is only sold in Chile and Brazil. The vineyards were planted in 1978 in the third terrace of the Maipo River by Concha y Toro. The original 40 hectares were used for the first vintage, 1996, and since 2001 they have bought more land and planted vines to complete the 60 hectares they own in total. They replant a small percentage of vines every year to keep a constant average age in the vineyards and at the same time increase density. The initial vintages (I tasted 1996 and 1999) were quite marked by animal aromas which seem to have disappeared lately. I feel a special brightness in the fruit from 2005 on (perhaps as they started harvesting by smaller plots from the vineyards) and the last few vintages show more precision, freshness and balance and are quite classically proportioned with better-integrated oak. The last five harvests have been drier that the average, so for Michel the issue of how and when to water the vineyards is now vital. He’s also moving toward organic farming of the vineyards, believing that they have to move from producing great wines to creating great vineyards. (Ideally, it should have been the other way ‘round.)
Importer: Diageo Chateau & Estates, Napa, CA; tel. (707) 299-2600; www.diageowines.com