Garage Wine Co. Lot #36 Cabernet Franc Maipo Alto 2011

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photoChile. I last wrote about Chilean wine nearly five years ago. You might infer from this that I see little merit in Chilean wine, and I would admit this is true, at least with respect to what has crossed my palate in this market. I have not sought out wines from Chile either, leaving me to wonder if something more exciting is possible from the land of commodity wine. With this wine I confirm it is.

Garage Wine Co., a new venture in Maipo run by a Canadian ex-pat Derek Mossman, is at the vanguard of Chile’s revolution to site-specific, varietally focused, elegant wines. The winery is a founding member of MOVI (Movement of Independent Vintners), probably the most important movement in Chilean wine. MOVI is a collection of small producers, founded in 2009, that seeks to promote more interesting, distinctive wines from boutiques rather than the large land-owning wineries. They also focus on old-vines, dry-farming and recovering vineyards, particularly of old-vine Carignan in the Maipo, lost to the dominant large production, marketing heavy Chilean ventures. Reportedly, results are varied, but there are some superb examples. Luckily, this wine is one of the successful achievements of the movement.

Making Chile Matter

Up front, this Cabernet Franc is a stunning achievement in superb table wine making. Grown at 700 metres altitude in the Maipo valley, the wine is made with natural yeast fermentation in large 1,500-2,000 litres vats, which helps explain why this wine is so distinctive.

The wine is highly expressive, with funky leaf notes, green veggies, lots of dark fruit and chocolate. Frankly, the wine rocks. It’s balanced, elegant, replete with proper tannic structure (from grapes, not wood), and is very fresh. This acidity marks it as distinct from most Chilean Cabernet Francs and Cabernet Sauvignons, which often taste too ripe and too controlled, with little unique. The other distinction is the much greater level of phenolic complexity, clearly a result of earlier picking. This complexity gives the wine, despite its 14% ABV, a sense of pleasure and rightness for food that, in my view, is sorely lacking in the majority of Chilean wine.

Colour me re-informed.

Excellent and Highly Recommended Value
$27 at Garagiste (someone, please import this)


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