We have just received a limited supply of 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, 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. Two weeks ago we featured the outstanding San Leonardo, a Northern Italian Bordeaux blend, where Carménère plays the same critical role.
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.
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.” (9/2018)
Past Cellar Selections:
San Leonardo – The Bordeaux of the Italian North
Find Value in Bordeaux Second Labels
Ceretto Barolo 2015 – Expressing the Terroir of the Langhe
Chateau Léoville Barton – vintages 2010 (100pts!), 2009, 2000
Chateau Prieuré-Lichine 2016 – Classified Bordeaux, 94–96 pts.
Maison Leroy Bourgogne 2017 – $90 for a Bourgogne Blanc? . . . Maybe Yes
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey – Born to Burgundy
Eyrie Vineyards – Benchmark Oregon Pinot Noir
Domaine de Baronarques – A Mediterranean Mouton!
Chateau Montelena - New World but Classically Styled
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou – Like a Rolling Stone?
Gran Enemigo 2014 – 98 pt. Cabernet Franc