We feature today the 2016 release from Maipo producer Almaviva. The winery is a collaboration between Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and the giant of Chile, Concha y Toro. Produced under the joint supervision of both partners, the first vintage was released in 1998. The estate comprises 150 acres, with an average vine age of 40 yrs. (the property had grape vines for decades before it was purchased), and is planted with five varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The Carménère is 24% of the 2016 vintage and performs the same mellowing function, vis-à-vis Cabernet Sauvignon (66%), as Merlot does in Left Bank Bordeaux. Carménère is in fact, surprisingly, an authorized Bordeaux variety although it is now rarely used. But, it is a signature variety of Chile where the climate suits it much better. Wine-making is overseen by Patrick Leon, also the winemaker at Mouton and Opus One.
A background note: the name Almaviva, though it has a Hispanic ring to it, belongs to French classical literature. Count Almaviva is the hero of The Marriage of Figaro, a play by Beaumarchais (the French playwright and American Revolution arms trader) later turned into the opera by Mozart. The label features Beaumarchais’ handwriting.
With Almaviva, Chilean terroir meets French savoir-faire. It has the tannic structure and complexity of a traditional Bordeaux with the riper fruit you expect from a New World wine. The 2016 has a deep, intense and brilliant ruby red color. The nose is delicate with aromas of raspberry and blackberry, which sit nicely with notes of toffee and coffee. The elegance of the wine is underscored by a round and fresh mouthfeel. Tannins are present but subtle and lead to a vanilla and pepper finish. In sum, it is silky, graceful and complex. It is ready to drink now but will keep nicely for the next ten years.
Vina Almaviva Puente Alta 2016 (750ml)
Retail Price: $ 139.99
Sale Price: $121.97
Wine Spectator, 95 pts. - “Elegant, powerful and well-structured, with a refined mix of dark fruit, dried red fruit and spice flavors. Dried herbal notes come in midpalate, with a minerally finish that is long and rich-tasting. Highly Recommended.” (3/2019) #10 top 100
James Suckling, 97 pts. – “A very fine and elegant Almaviva with fresh fruit and herb character. Medium-to-full body, tight and focused with very fine, linear tannins and a chocolate and light cedar undertone to the whole thing. Savory, too. Smoked meat and succulent. It's tight but opens with air. Classicism here.” (12/2018)
Wine Advocate, 95 pts. – “The2016 harvest was complicated by rain in late April, which made them hurry up and finish two weeks earlier than normal. The year was also cooler, and the 2016 Almaviva, a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Carmenère, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot has less alcohol at 13.9% compared to 15% in 2014. The élevage was shortened to 16 months, and they decreased the percentage of new French barrels used—down to 77% from the 82% in the previous year. The wine is fresher and less marked by the oak, a more fluid version, with fine tannins. This is a little different, a lighter and fresher year. It was a very dry winter, complicated by rains. I found very good harmony and fine tannins, balance and freshness in one of the most elegant vintages I remember from Almaviva. This has contained power, very accessible tannins and no green notes at all. It's young but accessible and should develop nicely in bottle, as it has the balance and freshness. This is an elegant and fresh vintage for Almaviva, young and tender, taking advantage of the natural conditions for it. Well done!” (9/2018)
Jancis Robinson – “Ruby with some evolution at the rim. Well-rounded and rich with excellent balance. Riper and broader than a Bordeaux and with no suggestion of green. Good balance, refreshing, and ready to broach already.” 17.5/20 (9/2018)
Past Cellar Selections:
Vajra 2016 - Three Variations on Barolo
Beaucastel 2006 - A Chateauneuf You Don’t Have To Wait For
Montevertine – Chianti for Wine Geeks
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Meix Foulot Mercurey 2017 – Burgundy for Bargain Hunters
Giuseppe Mascarello Nebbiolo 2018
Domaine Huët 2019 – Grand Cru from the Loire Valley
Brunello di Montalcino 2015 – Selected Bottles
Shafer Vineyards – Relentless, One Point Five and Chardonnay
Paul Jaboulet – Majestic Wines from the Northern Rhone
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey – Magic in Burgundy
Domaine A. et P. de Villaine – Budget DRC?
Three Oderros: for the Picnic Table, the Dinner Table and the Cellar
Castilla Ygay 2010 – at 98 pts a ‘First Growth’ Rioja
Burgundy with age from Jean Chauvenet
Cornas and Côtes-du-Rhone from Franck Balthazar
Quintessa 2016 – 98pt Bordeaux Blend from Napa