Viña Carmen unveils its first multi-vintage Cabernet blends in Asia

Viña Carmen has joined the likes of Penfolds and Opus One in unveiling its first multi-vintage blend of Cabernet Sauvignon which puts the focus on the grape and terroir instead of vintage variation, according to its chief winemaker.

Carmen blended four vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon to create its latest premium red called ‘Vintages Blend’

The wine, called ‘Vintages Blend,’ is a product of four different vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon from the winery, according to the winery’s chief winemaker Emily Faulconer, mixing the 2016, 2015, 2013 and 2014 vintages. 

“The idea of the wine is really to show the typicity of Cabernet from the place without the influence of each vintage. That’s why we blend different vintages,” Faulconer explains to dbHK in at Vinexpo Hong Kong, where the wine made its debut in Asia.

“The way they talk about it is very logical. When you have a single vintage wine, you have more characters of the vintage, but when you blend, you talk more about the place, the varietal, so it’s a fun way to experience it,” she continued, making references to Penfolds’ G3, a blend of three Granges, and Opus One’s ‘Overture’.

The wine is made using 75% Cabernet from 2016 vintage, together with 10% from 2015 vintage and 7.5% from both the 2013 and 2014 vintages to create what the winery calls a “re-invented classic” from Maipo Valley.

Founded in Maipo, Chile in 1850, Viña Carmen is the oldest winery in the country, and in recent years, has been pushing for more innovations, according to Faulconer.

“In the past few years, it has been quite innovative. We re-invent classics. We still make classic wines, using classic varietal like Cabernet Sauvignon, but we try to bring new things,” she said.

Under these guidelines, the winery also launched a new wine range called ‘Carmen DO’ with the first commercial vintage being 2016. With only limited production, the range aims to rescue local and neglected varieties to represent Chile’s viticultural heritage by working with small-scale grape growers with low intervention.

“This is a project that we are doing that is completely different from the classics,” enthused Faulconer. For one thing, the range does not use Cabernet Sauvignon, the winery’s flagship grape, and instead focusing on varieties such as the less planted Semilion and Moscatel. The former’s current planting in Chile has dwindled to roughly 800 ha, down from its peak of 30,000 ha, and was previously used mainly in bulk wine production, according to the winemaker.

“The idea is to rescue the variety, and there are really beautiful old vines with a lot of structure and balance,” she explained, adding that the first experiment started in 2015 with only one barrel from a small plot. The result was encouraging, leading the winery to expand its production to 280 cases for the 2016 vintage.

In addition to the two new launches, the winery also makes other wine ranges including ‘Grand Reserva’, ‘Gold Reserve’ single vineyard wines, ‘Winemaker’s Blend’, ‘Premier 1850’ and ‘Insigne’.

The ‘Vintages Blend’ will be available in Hong Kong later this year via its local importer Royal Orchid Wine.

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