2011 Baptiste Cuvelier 'Cuvee del Maule'
Cabernet Sauvignon (42%), Carignan (32%), Pais (8%), Carmenere (7%), Cinsault (7%), Merlot (4%)
This is one of the crazier wines I've tasted this year. I found it at Binny's hiding near the bottom shelf. Cuvee del Maule is an eccentric and unconventional "kitchen sink" blend that I really enjoyed. It's super nerdy and attractively puzzling at times though. It also has a hell of a story.
Baptiste Cuvelier focuses on crafting concentrated and powerful Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot from Argentina, but wanted to make a different style of wine with a new venture into Chilean wines. They ended up with this all natural blend--focused more on fresh fruit and acidity and reflective of Chile's oceanic influence--a counterpart to the concentrated and age-worthy Bordeaux reds from Argentina.
The first harvest went well but tragedy struck in 2010 when a devastating earthquake hit central Chile. Unlike the earthquake in Napa several months ago, the 2010 earthquake was one of the most devastating in modern history. With a magnitude of 8.8, it was so powerful that NASA said it shifted an axis of the earth and shortened the day (see here). Suffice it to say, the winery was damaged and much of the wine was lost. The original blend from the 2009 vintage was crafted from the surviving barrels and some of the proceeds were donated to one of the hardest hit regions, Maule. The bottle I bought is the third vintage, created under much less harrowing conditions but with a similar eye toward crafting a natural wine from organic grapes with no added yeast or manipulation and only minimal sulfite additions during bottling.
The nose on this wine is incredible but it needs a few minutes to open up. Take a deep whiff of this and meditate on it a bit. A single word came to my mind: ethereal. Ethereal is one of those words that seems so ridiculous and bullshitty as a wine descriptor, but it couldn't be more appropriate here. The nose is powerful but light and high-toned with bright and fresh aromatics. Blueberry and blackcurrant, white flowers, spice, coffee, and a hint of barnyard. The palate is thin, without much tannin, but racy acidity anchors a lot complexity and a long finish. Whew, this was a doozy, and was even better on the second day.
I couldn't find any information on Baptiste Cuvelier's website about this wine but there is a great video from Best Wines Online that interviews the winemaker, who talks a lot about this bottle in particular. It's a really interesting wine, super food friendly, and one to meditate on, if you want. Plus, it's got a great story, and who doesn't love a great story?