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2012 De Martino Legado Gran Reserva Chardonnay, Limari Valley
De Martino is one of the most progressive and exciting names on the Chilean wine scene, deservedly named Chilean Winery of the year in 2011. Through a network of intellectual partnerships and vineyard acquisition, it has quickly built up a reputation for organic viticulture of the highest quality, farming from over 350 different vineyards.
The corporate vision focuses on sustainability, terroir, and, by logical extension, excellence. By concentrating on the very best sites for the varieties in question, be they in Limari, Elqui or Maipo, and by the development of a world class winemaking team, De Martino now sits at the very top of the Chilean vinous hierarchy.
The Alto Piedras vineyards make up 5 hectares of the sub-Denominacion of the Isla de Maipo, a de facto island as the vines are surrounded by two branches of the Maipo River. Two other self-evident truths are located in the nomenclature; firstly that the terrain is rocky, volcanic gravel to be precise and secondly that the vines are quite high up. Chile’s indigenous grape, Carmenère, is here aged for 18 months in new French oak.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
The Limari Valley is seen as the most exciting and innovative wine-producing region in Chile. It is located 400 Km to the north of Santiago and only 20 km from the Pacific Ocean. Great natural phenomena seem to converge here with not only the ocean, but also the arid Atacama Desert and the Andes Mountains all close by.
The vineyards are deprived of rainfall in spring and summer, a problem addressed by a series of reservoirs, canals and pipelines bringing water down from the mountains.
This is region famed for the clarity of its skies and the purity of its air and mineral-rich soils; this natural benevolence has been harnessed by winemakers such as Jose Pablo Martin of Tamaya (one of region's most avant-garde wineries) and is captured in the wines, which are typically free from chemical or other forms of intervention.
The valley is planted with a range of grapes, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon (720ha), Merlot (190ha), Carménère (124ha), Syrah (112ha) and Chardonnay (134ha)
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