Chardonnay Family Selection 2020 – Caleuche.
Once upon a time the life of Chardonnay lovers was easy. On the one hand there was “New World Chardonnay” and on the other hand there was “Old World Chardonnay”. Nowadays life of Chardonnay-lovers has become more complicated – and interesting. Consumers demand and exponential knowledge enhancement in (relatively) young wine growing areas has levelled the playing field between Old and New World Chardonnays. In blind tastings it can be hard to distinct a New World from an Old-World Chardonnay. In this review we find out if we can categorise the 2020 Chardonnay Family Collection by Caleuche – Vino Aromo.
About the Variety
Chardonnay is a non-aromatic grape. Neutral in aroma and flavour Chardonnay is a so-called winemaker’s grape. Due to the neutral character, the winemaker has a active role in defining the style of the wine. Depending on the desired style of the wine, the winemaker whether or not can appeal to winemaking technics like malolactic fermentation, maturation in stainless stain or barrels, lee-maturation, bâtonnage and so on.
One Variety, Two Styles
As mentioned there used to be a clean differentiation between what was considered a “New World” and an “Old World” Chardonnay. These days the lines have blurred a bit, driven by changing customer demand, but let us have a closer look at the two “original styles”.
New World Chardonnay
The first wave of new world Chardonnays were rich and bold and were containing aromas of butter and cream, caused by the applied malolactic fermentation. The wines underwent long maturation on new small barrels, preferably made of American oak, adding structure and flavours like vanilla and butterscotch. To make it complete, maturation on fine lees and bâtonnage was applied. Bâtonnage is the French term for stirring settled lees back into wine. Lees are the sediment of winemaking, usually made up of dead yeast. Bringing this back in contact with the wine adds flavour, aroma and texture.
Old World Chardonnay
On the other you had the “Old World Chardonnays”. These old-world Chardonnays were lean and clean. Vinification of old-world Chardonnay was focussing on keeping freshness and catching the terroir. The vinification was servile to the grape and terroir and abovementioned winemaking technics were used cautiously.
About the Region
The appellation of the wine is Denominación de Origenes (DO) Valle del Maule. Maule Valley is a sub region of the Chilean Central Valley. As you undoubtedly know Chili is located in South-America. The long and small country is wedged between the Andes-mountains in het east and the Pacific Ocean in the west. In general, the climate is warm Mediterranean – and that certainly applies to Maule Valley. Due to the dry and sunny conditions the grapes ripen well. The heat is moderated by the Humboldt-current. This cold Antarctician current allows the grapes to preserve their natural acidity. In comparison to other subregions of Central Valley, the temperature in Maule Valley is a bit more moderate.
About the Winery
Caleuche is a label by Viña Aromo, a family owned Chilean wine company based in Santiago. Viña Aromo was started in 1922 by a French family and since 1940 it is owned by the Chilean family Solar. Nowadays Viña Aromo is one of the major players of the Chilean wine industry. According to the Chilean legend, the Caleuche was a ghost ship filled with wine drinking witches. Unfortune citizens who came to close to the ship, were eternally transformed into pieces of wood. So: drinking this cursed wine is not without risk and takes some courage.
About the Vinification
40% of the handpicked grapes were cold macerated. Cold maceration extracts colour, tannins and aromas. 30% of the pressed and clarified juice was fermented in French oak barrels and 70% American oak barrels. The wine was aged sur lie in barrels for 4 months, the total barrel aging time was 6 months.
About the Wine
The golden yellow wine with some green reflections displays ripe yellow fruit like banana, peach and plum. The malolactic fermentation translates into pronounce aromas of butter and cream and the maturation in barrels results in tones of vanilla, butterscotch and herbs like dill and fennel. The wine also shows some ripening tones like honey, caramel, almond and dried apricot. Based on the nose one would expect a rich and bold wine, but the mouth gives a little plot change. It all starts with full-flavoured mouth filling ripe fruit like pineapple and peach, maintained by a firm herbal core with tones of dill and fennel. A nice mouth cleaning acidity prevents the wine to get plump or overwhelming. Together with a flowery layer the acids are leading to a warming (14% ABV) medium lasting aftertaste with flavours of vanilla and almond.
The 2020 Caleuche Chardonnay Family Collection is undoubtably to categorize as a new world style Chardonnay. The wine is ripe and rich with noticeable influences of winemaking technics like barrel aging. However, the has more to offer than just a dime a dozen. The winemaker has found an excellent balance between the ripe and rich flavours on one hand and uplifting freshness and drinkability on the other hand. Therefor we reward this Chardonnay with a 92-point DWA score.
Taste date: March 2023
Score: 92/100 DWA Score
Website: Vina Aromo