Friday 12 January 2018

'Vino Naranja' 2017, Cacique Maravilla

The Bichi wines blew my mind but then I didn’t know Mexico made wine so when I say ‘The Bichi wines blew my mind’ it must be understood in the context of I had no context except preconception and that this was obviously wrong because they were so good.

I wondered if I was totally wrong about Chile too. Maybe grapes grown in full sun in perfect conditions could make wine that didn’t hit you with the force of a cannonball from far space. Though I wasn’t sure. I was also a little afraid: 365 days of sun shining on vines that didn’t have to work a day in their 158 year-lives had vested the bottle I was about to open with 13% alcohol. 

And it was Moscatel. 

Apart from a crazy amount of sediment, I didn’t think it had much going for it. 

*** Spoiler alert ***


I was wrong

(and wrong about the vines not having to work, too)

But I'm exaggerating. I wasn't born yesterday: of course I didn’t buy a wine for its sediment. Mostly I went on colour (a lychee new moon! Peachy opal! Satin ballet slippers! Bobby Brown blush! Sun-charged smokey lemon quartz!) ... and because it was a 2017 and it was the first days of 2018 and I wanted to write that AND because a friend suggested Manuel Moraga and the guy in Henry's suggested the 2017 'Vino Naranja'. He’d never tried it he said, but he thought it was 'big'. 

Like I said, I was scared.

Like said, I was opening it:

It was pineapple juice.

It was Incan soda.

Elderflower marrow.

Agave pith from the Atacama desert.

It was a cactus juice spring bubbling out from the mythical city of El Dorado sipped from a rough-cut quartz cup. Its sediment swirled like shaman water. Like a storm on a Honeydew melon moon with the texture of an electro-pulse jellyfish. It smelled like Tepache soaked amaretto cookies. Tiny bubbles tears streamed down the sides of the glass like pebbles washing up and down the shore.

Blind, it could have been a Nestarec. Or a cousin to Ramaz Nikoladze's Tsitska.

But it wasn’t ‘big’. 

Not in any way ‘big’ except for GINORMOUS on juice and joy and its association to moon beams.

So like I said, I was wrong.

What do we know about Manuel Moraga? Well the man has an emoji moustache. He's a  seventh generation descendant of a not-so-bad conquistador who came to Chile looking for gold in 1777 and who the local Mapuche people called 'Cacique Maravilla' (wonderful leader) — but in a we respect you for respecting us-way, and not a whatever you say boss-way. 

He works his family's 15ha of vines in Yumbel in the Bío Bío Valley (at roundabout the same latitude as southern Spain) the same way his ancestors did, without chemicals or additives or irrigation. He started bottling his wines in 2010 before which he sold it in bulk to the commercial wineries that my dady buys from have made small scale vineyards untenable. He tends pre-phylloxera País (what the Mexicans call Misión), Moscatel de Alejandría, Torrontés and Corinto as well as more recently planted Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Soil is volcanic. Climate is Mediterranean. Rainfall relatively high for Chile.... 

...Is anyone there?

Tasting notes

Colour of a melon-coloured moonstone or nude chiffon. Smells like fresh-pressed pineapple juice and opens into pear nectar. Tastes like elderflower infused cactus juice and wild pink grapefruit. The alcohol content is masked by juice. 

Open for a while, though and it becomes thicker. More syrupy. The pineapple juice now from concentrate. It develops a pithiness, some saltiness. Maybe a soapiness. Next day it lost its fruit to sours. Drink within the hour while it's juicy — not like you wouldn't.


"Vino Naranja" 2017
Manuel Moraga, Cacique Maravilla
Moscatel de Alejandría
Bío Bío Valley, Chille

2 months skin contact

From: Henry's, New York

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