What is the Carignan boom all about and why is it deeply linked to Maule, one of Chile’s most traditional terroirs? Winemaker Arnaud Hereu from Viña Odfjell discusses his own discovery of old vine Carignan in Maule and why he believes this historic Chilean wine region is one of the most exciting terroirs of Chile.
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Clip transcript: Carignan boom, Maule and the terroir of Chile
Arnaud, you are a French man from Bordeaux and you’ve been here in Chile for over 20 years making wine. Why do you think Maule is unique or interesting?
Well, first of all Maule is very traditional wine region – it has been here forever. And during a long, long time the wine industry was not considering Maule as a quality region. It was known for huge volume, cheap wine – good and cheap.
Twenty years ago as a winery we started to look for different grapes. Because we have a big vineyard close to Santiago with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and we needed something different. So we started to look around and of course we went to Maule – the big wine area, vineyard area.
And for us it was a surprise because it is a very traditional vineyard area where you have old vineyards – Cinsault, Carignan, Pais, also Cabernet Sauvignon… So when we start to look around that we discovered, that Carignan you can see around me, that is around 100 years old – maybe a little bit more.
As a French man as you said, for me it was really important to taste it, to try it. And the result was amazing, really. In 2001 we did the first Carignan for Odfjell, and it was a hit. Really the wine was beautiful, and because of that wine all the Carignan wave started in Chile.
So really for me, Maule and especially Cauquenes is a very important wine region for that aspect, but also because I really believe it is maybe the most traditional region in the entire of Chile.
And traditional in what way? I mean around us we can see all these head-trained, old vines. What makes Maule different to other regions in Chile?
Maule is not industrial. I mean if you look at the vineyard, it’s bush vine, we still work a big portion of the vineyard with horses. You have a lot of small producers. Each producer works his vineyard in his own way. If you are talking about terroir in Chile, I would say Maule, Cauquenes, maybe Itata, are the real terroirs in Chile.
More on the Carignan boom and Maule:
- Maule Fast Facts & Terroir Essentials
- VIGNO: Coming of Age
- Carignan Profile
- What is VIGNO?
- Photogallery of Maule
- Wine Drinking with Wine Makers: Arnaud Hereu and Andres Sanchez