Almaviva 2019 tasted and ratedBy Patrick Schmitt
We reveal our view of Almaviva’s just-released 2019 expression, along with the winemaker’s thoughts on the vintage, which were shared during a presentation to the UK wine trade yesterday.
Joining 50 professionals in London via Zoom yesterday, Almaviva winemaker Michel Friou introduced the 2019 vintage of this sought-after Cabernet blend from Chile’s Puente Alto, an area of the Maipo that sits just beneath the steeply-rising slopes of the Andes mountain range.
To show the influence of climate and subtle winemaking changes on Almaviva over a range of vintages, as well as the character of the wine as it matures, Friou chose a selection of past expressions, taking in the 2003, 2010 and 2015 vintages of the wine, before finally presenting the 2019 – the 24th vintage since the brand released its first wine, which hailed from the 1996 harvest.
On the subject of the current release, which was offered by La Place de Bordeaux last Thursday for €105 per bottle ex-négociant, he expressed his delight at the quality of the wine, which followed an “exceptional” vintage – last year’s 2018 release came from an especially good year for producers right across Chile.
“2019 was a wonderful surprise after 2018, which was considered an exceptional vintage, and so we didn’t think we would have such a good vintage the year after,” he said.
However, the two years differed, with the 2019 growing season starting later than 2018, while following a drier winter.
Importantly, a dry and warm summer in 2019, like 2018, led to a fast veraison, which Friou stressed was beneficial as it led to a homogenous ripening process: there was little variation in the bunches from any single plant or berries in the same bunch.
He also said that the older vines at the Almaviva estate, which average over 40 years, ripened slowly, allowing the grapes to be harvested later than usual, producing “wonderful” wines, with a similar fruit intensity and balance to 2018, but, “a bit more density, and smoother tannins.”
Later on, he commented that he preferred the tannins in 2019 to the 2018 expression, because they were “more rounded” in the more recent-release, while noting that there were some “floral notes” in the 2019, which weren’t present in the 2018.
Nevertheless, he said that neither harvest had produced a better wine, just expressions with slight differences in style.
In terms of one critic’s view, as previously reported by db, James Suckling described the 2019 vintage as “extremely perfumed”, awarding it 97 points. He gave the 2017 vintage of Almaviva a ‘perfect’ 100 points, naming it his “wine of the decade”, and the 2018 release 98 points, calling it “a joy to taste”.
I tasted the wine ‘blind’ as part of a 60-strong line-up of fine wines from Chile last month.
Without knowing what the wine was, I gave it 98+ points, and wrote the following note, which can be read below.
- Varieties: 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Carmenère, 5% Cabernet Franc,
- 3% Petit Verdot,
- 1% Merlot
- Region: Puente Alto, Alto Maipo
- Closure: Natural cork
- RRP: £120
- Score: 98+
My highest scoring wine of the tasting, it combines a fine but firm structure with soft but concentrated fruit, and so many delicious, complementary flavours, from fleshy dark cherry and crushed strawberry to dense blackcurrant and ripe raspberry, then chilli pepper spice, creamy vanilla and gently toasted bread. A fine, intense, serious, age-worthy wine that’s accessible in its youth.