Wine critic James Suckling tossed a bomb in the wine world, and we’re all about to feel the after-shock. He and his team had just finished a year of travel, reviewing over 16,000 bottles, and word spread that he had selected his much anticipated wine of the year. The rumors were right, it was not from France, or Italy, nor America. The best wine in Mr. Suckling’s world was from, of all places, Chile. The 100 point 2015 Almaviva garnered the top award, a watershed moment for South America. Commenting on the wine in his Top 100 Wines of 2017 report, Suckling noted: “It underlines the movement away from overdone, jammy wines to a neoclassicism with energy and finesse. It also highlights how South America, specifically Chile, has come into its own as a wine area, producing superb wines that can compete with the best in the world.” Finesse, energy and neo-classiscm. We like hearing that.
Almaviva, a joint venture between Bordeaux’s first growth Château Mouton-Rothschild and Chile’s Concha y Toro, is a Bordeaux blend made from different plots around and in Puente Alto. A super-grouping of expertise and ambition (not to mention money) has lead Almaviva, a wine steeped in Old World sensibility, to be a breakthrough for Chile.
Regarding viticulture practices, Almaviva is–unsurprisingly–includes a spare-no-expense program. This includes completely harvesting by hand, manual hand sorting, gentle gravity flow systems and, of course, expensive brand new French oak. More tellingly, 2015 in the Maipo valley was cooler, and drier, leading to one of the longest harvest in the estates 25 year history. These cool temperatures along with the long hang time, lead to a once in decade balance of freshness and ripeness. It’s safe to say Almaviva seized the moment to its advantage.
Priced less than $120 a bottle, it is also worth noting that this is the world’s least expensive 100-point wine in history. Come and get it!
2015 Almaviva Red
“A glorious and complex nose of tobacco, blackberries and hints of stones and flowers. Hints of bitter chocolate. Full-bodied, very tight and compacted. Linear backbone gives this form and tension. It has the same character on the palate as well as cayenne and other spice. Loved the 2014 but this shows more fine-grained tannins. So balanced and harmonious. A blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Carmenere, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Needs four or five years in bottle but a joy to taste now.” 100 Points, James Suckling