MAINQUÉ

2021 Chardonnay Bodega Chacra

IN STOCK
Grapes Chardonnay
Colour White
Origin Argentina, Patagonia
Other Vegetarian, Bio-dynamic, Vegan, Certified Organic
District Rio Negro
ABV 13%

The 2021 Mainqué Chardonnay is the second white here, produced by Jean-Marc Roulot from 40-year-old ungrafted vines in Mainqué in the Lunita property (where they regrafted the vines to Chardonnay), where they work with cover crops, no chemicals and bees. It fermented with indigenous yeasts, 70% in French oak barrels and 10% each in clay amphorae, concrete egg and stainless steel, and it matured for nine months, 70% in barrel and 10% each in concrete and stainless steel. It has the precision and purity of Roulot, which to a certain extent is the result of thorough work with the press. "He sent us the press program," Piero told me. "And we now have two presses. We are learning." When I thought about what was in common between the reds and the whites, I came up with three words: precision, purity and elegance. It has notes of white flowers and a touch of fennel and other aromatic herbs. It was harvested early in the morning and in the season, and the wine is light and refreshing, ethereal, weightless and with purity and precision. It's a delight! 24,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in December 2021. Drinking range: 2022 - 2027 Rating: 94 Luis Gutierrez, www.robertparker.com (Dec 2022)

*Case price discount: Mix any 12 bottles of wine (or 9 litre equivalent) or 6 bottles of Champagne, Spirits, Sweet Wine or Fortified (4.5 litres) to get the discounted 'case price' for each bottle.

Fresh apricots, white strawberries, cream, crushed stones and lemon meringue on the nose. Subtle spice, such as anise, white pepper and lemon grass. It’s medium-to full-bodied with a textured, phenolic palate. Very fresh and focused with persistency and tense layers of white fruit and minerals. Drink or hold. From biodynamically grown grapes. Rating: 94 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com (May 2022)

Bodega Chacra

23 hectares of Pinot Noir
16 hectares of Chardonnay
1 hectare of Trousseau (not yet in production)
Not all of the vineyards are in full production as some are very old and some replanting is still in progress.

Piero Incisa della Rocchetta is the grandson of the founder of Tenuta San Guido, the producer of Sassicaia, and Chacra is his personal project in northern Patagonia. The estate is in the Rio Negro valley about half way between the Atlantic and the Andes, and consists of alluvial beds left by the ancient glacier and by the river. There is quite a history for Pinot Noir in this region, and in 1964 there were still about 2400 hectares of planted vineyard, but then there was a sharp drop-off and by 1990 only 232 hectares remained. In 2003 Piero Incisa purchased the first of the Chacra vineyards, an abandoned plot planted in 1932, having tasted a Pinot from the area in New York and realising that the area had potential. Since then there has been something of a resurgence in enthusiasm for Pinot, and by 2009 the total Pinot Noir in the Rio Negro was back up to 1681 hectares.

Two more sites soon followed for Chacra, with old vines planted in 1955 and 1967. A fourth vineyard was then planted on the site of the original 1932 vineyard, using only vine cuttings taken from both the 1932 and 1955 plots (all the Chacra vines are franc de pied - planted on their own roots, not grafted). This last vineyard is the basis for the 'Barda' wine. The gravels and coarse alluvial pebbles, with a significant limestone content, together with a fresh, dry climate and great luminosity, allow for the minimum treatment in the vineyard and allowing for organic and biodynamic practices to be followed, which combined with a green harvest in January yields are kept very low. The region is extremely dry, being in the rain-shadow of the Andes, and apart from the area of the glacial bed which is irrigated with river water, the land around is desert. The farms in the valley bed were originally carved out in squares and flood-irrigated using a system of canals and ditches built by the British and the Italians to bring water from the river. The word used to describe them, ‘Chacra’, seems to be a generic word meaning ‘farm’ much as ‘finca’ and ‘estancia’ are used further north. Chacra still uses very limited flood irrigation (max. three times a year) which has the advantage of helping to protect the vines from nematodes and aphids (including phylloxera), but if over-used has the disadvantage of compacting the soils and reducing bio-diversity, so Piero and his team have developed drip-irrigation significantly, and also hugely reduced the amount of water used.

Originally the Pinots were made with the help of consultant Hans Vinding-Diers from nearby Bodegas Noemia, but since 2014 Piero has been in charge of the reds, with the help of technical director Gabriele Graia. Gradual changes to the organic viticulture have refined the wines over the year, and the vinification and use of barrels has also become more precise, with a proportion of the wine aged in cement vats to preserve freshness, so that there has been a gain in purity and that inimitable transparency that only Pinot can produce. Harvested manually, the reds are fermented naturally in large round cement vats (Piero calls them his 'Bentleys') with the minimum of intervention before being aged either in cement vats or Burgundian oak barrels of which about 20% are new. Malolactic fermentation takes place naturally in barrel over the course of the following six months, and the wines are then left undisturbed on their lees before being bottled without any fining or filtration.

In 2016 Piero started a new partnership with Jean-Marc Roulot to produce Chardonnay. The groundwork was done to produce the first vintage in 2017. Piero says that he would never have dared ask J-MR to make wine with him, but a chance encounter showed him that Jean-Marc was enthusiastic about a new project away from the constraints of Burgundy. Chacra had a vineyard of Merlot which never really fitted into what Piero wanted to do, so they bud-grafted this to Chardonnay, giving them an instant vineyard of forty year-old vines – it turned out that this calcareous plot is perfect for Chardonnay. They have since planted much more Chardonnay, and there is considerable excitement about these new wines, which have a taut mineral salinity and complex, nuanced flavours that you'd expect from Jean-Marc Roulot wines.

In 2023 Chacra was awarded the rare 'Robert Parker Green Emblem'.

This wine isn't currently part of a mixed case, but you can always browse our full selection of mixed cases here.
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