Chile, Cachapoal Valley

Abolengo is our latest discovery in the mountains of Chile's Cachapoal Valley. A 'start-up' microwinery — if not ‘nanowinery’ — formed in 2014 by friends Jamie Ross and Carlos Irarrazaval.

Carlos and his family have been growing high quality red grapes since the mid-1990s, supplying leading Chilean wine producers from their large estate in the Cachapoal Valley (whose history goes back to the wife of Chile’s Spanish Conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia). Jamie, who is British, has a long and close association with Chile, having first worked there in wine in the late 1980s. Cachapoal is one of Chile’s top wine producing regions, with excellent Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. But it is Carmenère, the one-time Bordeaux variety now thriving in Chile — for which the area is best known, particularly in the sub-appellation Peumo, where the vines for Abolengo are located.

With its south-facing vineyards, alluvial and granitic soils, and coastal breezes that both temper the heat and heighten luminosity, the Irarrazaval’s ‘La Rabicana’ Peumo estate has outstanding growing conditions for grapes that go into the Carmenère/Syrah blend. For the white, Chardonnay is sourced from Lontué, 90 km further south in the Curicó Valley, where cool nights follow warm days thanks to air falling from the Andes, creating physiologically well-balanced and expressive grapes.

With the help of consultant winemaker Jorge Gutierrez the small team here are just beginning as producers, lovingly making very small quantities of hand-crafted, authentic wines.