Boutique wineries were always the missing part of the Chilean wine scene – that is until the advent of MOVI. A small band of artisanal winemakers, MOVI is an association that has now grown to 34 estates and its influence is spreading as members show the world a different side of Chilean winemaking. This is not about wealthy families with hundreds of acres of international varieties but about individual, hand-crafted wines. Peter Dean tried a selection and recommends eight that are worth putting on your radar – some of them are a whole lot of fun too, as he explains.
“This is a fascinating opportunity to try a 100% Marselan the cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache that only officially came into existence 31 years ago, but has since been approved in Bordeaux,” writes Dean.
When you read the back label of La Despensa Boutique it’s impossible to imagine that this is a new wine from Chile.
“Quite how a guy from Dorset ended up making wine in Chile is anyone’s guess. But here I am, with my long-suffering Chilean wife, rapidly heading towards financial ruin… and loving every minute of it. When you drink this wine you’re drinking my bad back, my headaches and my sleepless nights…”
La Despensa is no ordinary wine from Chile and neither are the other wines from MOVI, a group of winemakers who have joined forces to show the world a new perspective on Chilean wine. The Movimiento de Viñateros Independientes to give MOVI its full name was formed in 2009 when 12 like-minded winemakers got together as their wines all shared similar characteristics – artisanal, hand-made – and were far from the mass produced ‘industrialised’ wines that were so popular at the time in Chile.
Now expanded to 34 members but still representing just 0.1% of the country’s production, MOVI doesn’t have a set of strict rules like a regulatory body, more a shared philosophy about how wines should be made; some of the characteristics MOVI wines have in common are that they can involve old vines, dry farming, organics, biodynamics, horse-drawn ploughing, ‘lost’ varietals and unusual blends. If someone wants to join the group, they host a wine tasting to which the 34 members are invited, they taste and if they approve the winery is part of MOVI.
Derek Knapp, who has been working in Maule with Garage Wine since 2008, explains that when they arrived in the area, they were able to buy grapes from local producers for their wines, but he quickly realised that there was a need to bring the producers together.
“We created the opportunity for smaller producers to sell their wines internationally, as the regulations weren’t designed around small businesses. MOVI is on a special board with the SAG, the regulatory body of agriculture, to simplify the paperwork and also teach its members how to survive as small sellers, to work with others, collaborate and do things that they can’t do on their own,” Knapp says.
Tasting through a selection I was sent I confess to being very impressed – these are individual wines which are made through a lot of care and attention and take a very different slant on a region that (in my opinion) is only just starting to re-find its way again after the explosion of the 80s and 90s.
Some of the many highlights of MOVI wines
Maurizio Garibaldi Malbec/Syrah/Durif 2016, Maipo Costa, Chile
Maurizio Garibaldi is a third generation winemaker and one of the rising stars of the new winemaking scene in Chile. He has earned his spurs at Villa Maria, Veuve Clicquot, Les Vins de Vienne as well as numerous wineries in Portugal. His grandfather emigrated from Italy aged 16 after World War 1 and made wines with his son until 1973 when the land was confiscated after Pinochet’s rise to power. The vineyard for this complex red blend is 41km from the coast at an altitude of 800m on a weathered granite hillside. The blend consists of 55% Malbec, 23% Syrah, and 22% Durif (aka Petite Sirah). Before bottling, the wine is aged for 20 months in French oak, followed by a further two years in bottle before release.
Deep garnet with cherry red edges; the nose is seductive with flowers, cherry, and blackberry, oak and spices with a touch of roasted meat; the palate is medium to full, intense, juicy and ripe with a nice precise, balanced register on the tongue. Good balance between rustic and fresh elegance. 13.5% abv. (RRP £31)
Maurizio Garibaldi Sauvignon Blanc
The vineyard for this classy mineral-driven Sauvignon Blanc is just 18.5km from the coast and high up, which is reflected in both the wine’s aromatic profile and salty, textured palate. The vines are grown in shallow topsoil on a weathered granite hillside. The grapes are hand harvested, then the wine is split into 70% fermented in stainless steel, 30% fermented in French oak, with 11 months on the lees.
This is a Sauvignon Blanc with some attitude – there are notes of cut grass, fresh herbs, peach, lime zest while the palate has wonderful balance between luscious, ripe fruit and bright, mineral-driven acidity. There’s a core of saline and crushed rock here – great balance, texture and a refreshing finish. (RRP £17.99)
La Despensa Wines, Boutique 2019, Doogle Wines SpA, Chile
A fresh and lively field blend of Grenache (45%), Syrah (45%) and Mourvedre (10%) that has a small amount of Marselan added after the wine has undergone malolactic fermentation in concrete tank – to beef up structure and colour. Overall the wine is aged for 10 months and then a further six in bottle before release.
Medium vivid purple in colour, the aromas are complex and heady with red berry fruits, violets, spices (black pepper) liquorice and mint, with some attractive earthy notes, chocolate and pipe tobacco all vying for attention. The palate is fresh, ripe, but balanced by fine-grained tannin and a bedrock of acidity and crushed rock minerality. The finish is lengthy and leaves a tingle on the tongue. Really interesting and more-ish. 14% abv (RRP £21.45)
Viña Polkura, Random Unexpected Wine, 2017, Chile
Syrah traditionally takes the lion’s share in this annually-changing blend of the best performing parcels, conceived once winemakers Gustavo and Gonzalo realized that the grapes they were selling as growers were good enough for them to make into wine. In 2017 this red blend is made up of Syrah (45%), Malbec (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (18%), Grenache (3%) and Tempranillo and Petit Verdot (2% each). Medium garnet-red; black fruit dominates a bouquet that also has black pepper, liquorice, tar and menthol; the palate is medium to full bodied, rounded, full of flavour, tannins and acidity well integrated and so well balanced. At 14.5% abv there is some heat on the finish but not overly so. Impressive. (RRP £15.99)
Nerkihue, Quiebre Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Colchagua Costa
Excellent Cab Sauv/ Petit Verdot blend (92%/ 8%)) from Chile that is a very pure expression – the vines are low-yielding and grown on clay-loam slopes not far from the cooling Pacific – with the wine aged in 4th/5th use neutral barrels after fermenting in steel. The wine is structured and has intensity but there’s a green edge both on the nose and palate, with fresh, pure blackcurrant fruit, bramble, a little mint lift; the tannins are there, textured and ripe. There’s a sense that this is how Cabernet Sauvignon ought to taste and feels very true to its terroir. (RRP £19.99)
Vina Polkura, Malbec, Colchagua Valley, 2018
Deep, intense, serious Malbec, that has an attractive and vibrant bouquet of mulberries, black cherry, violets, iodine and a minty lift. There is a good deal of concentration (and alcohol 14.5%) on the palate, but the balance is good with ripe tannins, fine abrasive texture and decent acidity that keeps it fresh in the mouth, bitter edge on the finish. Only 800 bottles produced and a lovely demonstration of what Chile Malbec can do in the hands of a caring boutique winery. (RRP £21.99)
Tringario, Ludopata Marselan, Chile 2020
A fascinating opportunity to try a 100% Marselan the cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache that only officially came into existence 31 years ago, but has since been named as one of the four new grape varieties to be approved in Bordeaux as a way of combatting temperature increases.
Mainly grown to date in the Languedoc, this example was made in Chile and fermented in concrete eggs, so it really is a great example of the variety in a ‘pure’ form.
Very deep cherry red with purple edges, the nose is fresh, full-on black fruit, cherry, plum, blackcurrant; the palate is medium-weight, rounded, smooth and then displays structure and just-ripe tannins, balance maintained with a splash or blood orange acidity. I liked this and worked well with a vegetarian supper. (RRP £17.99)
Cold Shower Wines, Mission Impaissable, 2019
Yes this is a serious label and yes this is actually a seriously made wine – Pais (aka Mission – geddit?) from 120-150 year old vines grown in the Colchagua (Cold Shower – geddit?) Valley in Chile. Fruit-forward, glubbable or smashable, this is a wine for pure enjoyment and will be a crowd-pleaser at many an occasion – certainly a talking point with the label! The nose is complex, red fruit-driven (raspberry, plum), the palate is medium weight, with the grape’s acidity and dry stone texture balancing the fruitiness of the wine. 14% but it feels lighter and fresher. A lot of fun. (RRP £19.99)
MOVI wines are imported into the UK into the UK by Propeller Wines.