A taste of modern wines with ancient roots

By Mike Peters ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-08-16 07:49:06

Marco De Martino was in Beijing last week to present a series of his family vineyard wines at a private dinner hosted by Chile's ambassador to China, Jorge Heine. The chosen wines included a pleasant chardonnay and two standout vintages of carmenere - which has come to be considered Chile's national grape.

But the surprise hit of the night was the De Martino Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2014. A light and refreshing wine, it was like nothing most of us had ever tasted. There is an earthiness to both the taste and the aroma, and my first thought when I smelled it was "Cherry Kool-Aid". That sounds like a put-down (the renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson was smoother, describing the nose as "sour cherry"). But in fact, the wine is as tasty as it is intriguing.

Its individuality comes from the grape (Cinsault) and the chosen fermentation vessel, earthenware jars known in Spanish as tinajas. Though they vary, they are about barrel-size - much smaller than the huge clay amphorae used by Georgian and Armenian winemakers for thousands of years. But the tinajas have plenty of their own traditions, employed by winemakers in southern Europe for several centuries and still used by some Spanish and Portuguese winemakers today.

A taste of modern wines with ancient roots

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