For the second week running the spotlight is on a wine made from 100-plus year old vines, but this time the wine is white. I don’t set out specifically looking for centenarian vines; it’s simply that they can produce such delicious, characterful wines – liquids that seem to tell their whole life story in their flavours.
This Chilean Semillón (the accent is on the ‘o’ on the label) combines rich fruit with invigorating zing and the variety’s classic lanolin-smooth texture. Starting with intense candied lemon, ruby grapefruit and mirabelle plum, it moves through freshly cut grass, peaches, cream, vanilla, lanolin and a hint of smoke, then finishes with a lick of zesty, honeyed lemon. The effect is dry without being bone dry.
It’s part of Morandé’s new range celebrating the viti and vini cultural heritage of these traditional regions and comes from small producers – farmers who have been in the arid, rain-fed, unirrigated Secano areas of Maule and Itata for generations. They nurture vines like Sémillon, País, Cinsault and Carignan, rather than bringing in fashionable international grape varieties (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon et al). The Sémillon is in granitic soils on a south-facing slope around the Loncomilla area.
A quarter of the grapes were fermented in cement eggs with their skins, the rest were pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks and the two batches were mixed before the alcoholic fermentation was complete. They were kept in stainless steel and a used French oak 4,000-l foudre and there was no malolactic and only a very light filtration.
It’s not a wine that needs food, but it goes very well with shellfish, especially with lemony mayonnaise; with chicken, again particularly if lemon is involved (and herbs); and it would be good with Thai-style crab cakes or lightly spicy pork dishes. It was a bit powerful for white asparagus, but was a good match for the accompanying hollandaise sauce and Black Forest ham. It would be better with green asparagus.
12.5%. Empty bottle weight: 409g.
Morandé Terrarum Patrimonial Semillón 2022, Maule Valley, Chile
£9.99, Waitrose stores and back online shortly
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