Chilean Wineries: De Martino’s Viejas Tinajas


Today I was lucky enough to attend a seminar hosted by Snooth on the Wines of Chile. The wines we tasted today were a selection of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Carmenere and even a Malbec. It was a seminar centered around how so much of Chile can be considered cool climate terroir whether the vineyards are close to the coast, in the mountains or under continuous cloud cover for part of the day.

Tasting those lovely wines brought me back to thinking about my incredible 2008 trip to Chile, a country I loved. What’s not to love about a country that has areas like Patagonia below.


Or Atacama. Before I go on and on about Chile as a tourist destination, one of the best for its diversity I am convinced, I wanted to write about wines from De Martino I had the occasion to taste last year right around this time.


De Martino was established in 1934. They work all over Chile and are a winery I admire for their products, their winemaker, their attention to organic farming and sustainability and their carbon neutral status. I worked on a project for them last year and felt that I couldn’t write about their wines but since I am no longer involved with the project, I thought I would mention two wines that really caught my interest from the Viejas Tinajas line which I did not work on at all.

Viejas Tinajas are old terracotta amphorae. The ones used to make the De Martino wine are over 100 years old. The wine is made in the Iata Valley which is near the city of Concepcion, between the Bio Bio Valley and the Maule Valley. It is made on an old, dry farmed vineyard in the heart of the Coastal Mountain Range, some 22 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. There is abundant rainfall and considerable diurnal temperature variation. This valley is where the first vines in Chile were planted some 400 years ago.

We tried two wines made in this style, one a Muscat from 2012 and the other a Cinsault from 2012. The Muscat was made from ungrafted vines planted in 1975. The wine undergoes extensive maceration on the skins in the amphorae for six months. The wine is then separated from the skins and put back into the amphorae for another six months before bottling. Nothing except sulfur dioxide is added to the wine, neither yeast nor other substances. It was also unfiltered. The wine had great nutty character and the floral and grapey fruit aromas of Muscat. The texture and structure of the wine was also interesting with considerable acidity.

The second wine was the Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2012.This wine came from 31 year old bush trained, ungrafted vines. Cinsault tends to have low acidity and that is why they chose a vineyard close to the coast to enhance the acidity in the grapes. Again, the wine matured in the amphorae without the addition of yeast or enzymes, only a small dose of sulfur dioxide was added to preserve the wine when it was being transported. Granite soils help the Cinsault to grow and brought nice minerality, sapidity and acidity to the fore. The wine had lovely herbaceous notes and red fruit. This was the second vintage that they made. I was impressed also to find out that these tinajas were actually part of the history of this country and were used in earlier centuries to transport Pisco and other liquids. De Marino’s winemaker Marcelo Retamal seemed pleased with this wine at the time and I can certainly see why.

The wine is available in the US and is moderately priced, depending where you buy it, anywhere from $17 to $23.

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