A taste of mod­ern wines with an­cient roots

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE / DINING - By MIKE PETERS michaelpeters@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Marco De Martino was in Bei­jing last week to present a se­ries of his fam­ily vine­yard wines at a pri­vate din­ner hosted by Chile’s am­bas­sador to China, Jorge Heine. The cho­sen wines in­cluded a pleas­ant chardon­nay and two stand­out vin­tages of carmenere— which­has­cometo be con­sid­ered Chile’s na­tional grape.

But the sur­prise hit of the night was the De Martino Vie­jas Ti­na­jas Cin­sault 2014. A light and re­fresh­ing wine, it was like noth­ing most of us had ever tasted. There is an earth­i­ness to both the taste and the aroma, and my first thought when I smelled it was “Cherry Kool-Aid”. That sounds like a put-down (the renowned wine critic Jan­cis Robin­son was smoother, de­scrib­ing the nose as “sour cherry”). But in fact, the wine is as tasty as it is in­trigu­ing.

Its in­di­vid­u­al­ity comes from the grape (Cin­sault) and the cho­sen fer­men­ta­tion ves­sel, earth­en­ware jars known in Span­ish as ti­na­jas. Though they vary, they are about bar­rel-size — much smaller than the huge clay am­phorae used by Ge­or­gian and Ar­me­nian wine­mak­ers for thou­sands of years. But the ti­na­jas have plenty of their own tra­di­tions, em­ployed by wine­mak­ers in south­ern Europe for sev­eral cen­turies and still used by some Span­ish and Por­tuguese wine­mak­ers to­day.

Span­ish colonists, you may have guessed bynow, brought the tech­nique to Chile in the 1500s. Mod­ern­iza­tion and com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Chilean winer­ies pushed the tinaja tra­di­tion into ob­scu­rity, but the en­ter­pris­ing De Martino fam­ily made a pro­ject of re­viv­ing it, and the re­sults have turned heads around the world.

“It’s the sort of sum­mer red that would be de­lighted to be served cool,” Robin­son wrote in a col­umn about the 2012 vin­tage, “and has no tough tan­nin so could be drunk with­out food as well as with fish.” We’d say the same of the 2014, though we were happy to en­joy it with a grilled beef filet — in­trigu­ingly wrapped in al­monds and sea­weed and served along­side an as­para­gus risotto. •••

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.