DWWA 2013 International Trophies: Red Bordeaux Varietal Under £15
Aromo, Barrel Selection, Maule Valley, Chile 2010 (14%)
Plummy and sweet: green herb, black cherry and blackcurrant aromas with mint and black pepper. Full-bodied yet elegant, with juicy herbal fruit, oak, and a savoury character.
UK £8.60–£15; GLw, WFt
Tasted against • Château les Donats, L’Évolution, Bergerac, Southwest France 2011 • KWV, The Mentors Cabernet Franc, Coastal Region, South Africa 2010 • Crossroads, Winemaker Collection Cabernet Franc, Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand 2010 • Finca La Luz, Callejón del Crimen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina 2010
Barring the lone Old World intruder from Bergerac, the competition for this Trophy was a southern hemisphere affair. A clutch of wines from some of the New World’s most renowned regions battled it out for the ultimate prize, but the victor was a handsome wine shaped from a trio of Bordeaux varieties.
You might not be familiar with the name, but Aromo is a sizeable and historic operation based out of the Maule Valley. Founded in 1922, it was taken over in 1940 by the Henríquez family, which still controls it now. Total annual production is more than eight million litres, much of which is destined for the domestic and other South American markets. Only a small percentage of this is fine wine.
I remember visiting in 1999 and being taken on an extensive tour of the industrial-scale Talca plant with its vibrant, somewhat anachronistic mêlée of bustling workers scrubbing carafes side-by-side with million-dollar Tetra Pak bottling lines. At the time I recall noting that the Cabernet-based wines were the ones to watch.
Aromo’s vineyards are spread across four sites within Maule and this is a blend of predominantly (85%) Cabernet Sauvignon with 10% Carmenere and 5% Petit Verdot. The result is scented and characterful without being overbearing, perhaps partly the result of a slightly cooler vintage in 2010, as well as some careful winemaking.
It’s great to see a Maule wine winning an International Trophy, as this previously overlooked region gains increasing and deserved prominence.
Peter Richards MW