2017 Rafael Tirado Laberinto Pinot Noir

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Wine Critic Reviews for 2017 Rafael Tirado Laberinto Pinot Noir

A Pinot Noir from Colbún in the Maule Andes; clones 777, 115 and Davis planted in volcanic soils. A fairly intense red in color, the pleasant nose contains cherries and strawberries over a bed of earth. Complete and classical, it takes you by surprise on the palate with the chalky texture, gentle, juicy tannins and heightened freshness. A delicious wine.

Vinous Media | 92 VM

Wine Details on 2017 Rafael Tirado Laberinto Pinot Noir

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Producer Rafael Tirado
Region Maule: Maule's southern position is responsible for many of the differences between this region and the Central Valley of Chile. The nights are colder, rainfall more consistent, yet the days are still very bright and sunny. These conditions make room for a long, steady growing season, resulting in wonderfully balanced flavor profiles of the grapes, leaving them ripe and juicy with perfect acidity levels. Previously only recognized as the producer of Pais, Maule has adopted some international wines in the recent past, helping rebuild its reputation.

Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon can now easily be found here. The lovely Carignan vines typical for this region resist the modern tendencies of their motherland. These wines showcase gentle earthy spirit with remarkable depth and bulks of plums and blackberry in each sip. Compared to its more famous Chilean counterparts, Maule still has a long way to go. Still, fame isn't everything. While the world is busy focusing elsewhere, this enticing region builds its portfolio rapidly, as if awakened from a long period of winter. It's one of those rare places that have retained character, withstanding the pressure to conform. This resilient yet soft spirit certainly shows in Maule's wines, waiting to be discovered and treasured for what they're worth.
Subregion Maule Valley
Climat/Vineyard Cenzias Vineyard
Country Chile: Each winegrowing country tends to have a signature grape variety; one that is both beloved by local vintners and one that usually tells a story. Chile is no exception; its key grape is of French origin and one that was considered extinct. Carmenere was thought to have been completely destroyed after the phylloxera outbreak in the 19th Century, but was rediscovered in Chile in the 1990s. It was a major stroke of luck as it has completely re-invigorated the Chilean wine industry. Chile is one of South America’s most important wine producing countries and is often associated with good-value wines. In the last few decades it has become well known for its world-class reds, commanding attention and top-dollar pricing. Names such as Almaviva, Concha y Toro and Casa Lapostolle have become globally recognized, fueling the country’s economy and it’s already thriving wine industry.

Today, the Bordeaux varietal excels in its adopted home and its wide range of terroirs. Since the 1990’s Chilean producers have adapted their vinification methods and extended the ripening period. This has greatly increased the quality of the fruit and the wine produced. Carmenere featured in blends and single variety bottling is continuing to gain traction on the world market. Chile is no “one-trick pony” however, and has made huge strides in competing on the world-level. Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have always been mainstays, while Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec have been a supporting cast. Pinot Noir from the cooler parts of Chile is beginning to make an impression and Syrah is increasing in popularity in many wine producing regions. White wine plantings are led by Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Riesling and Semillon, expanding not only the quantity of varietals cultivated, but also many different stylings. This, of course, could not be possible without Chile’s vast array of micro-climates and terroirs.

Chile’s topography is very favorable to viticulture and despite the fact that the country is only 100 miles wide, it does spans 2,700 miles of land running north-south. The thin strip of land is situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains which creates an array of climatic variations. The growing regions are greatly influenced by the Pacific and the Antarctic Humboldt currents, which brings cooling breezes to coastal vineyard, while the sheltering presence of the coastal mountain range makes Chile’s Central Valley relatively warm and dry. The high altitudes of the Andes provides a temperate climate in many places that may be otherwise considered hot and arid, but even more importantly, the melt water supplies natural irrigation, supplying the many regions in the foothills with a much needed water source.

Chile’s location between the Pacific Ocean and the forbidding barrier of the Andes has allowed the country to be spared from phylloxera. It is ironic that a Bordeaux varietal that was nearly exterminated in Europe, survived this world-wide epidemic, only to help revive its protective host’s viticultural industry. Today, Chile has 194,000 hectares under vine, with an annual wine output of 10.3 million hectoliters, placing it among the top ten wine producing nations in the world.

Type of Wine Chile Red: Whether you prefer the potency of an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, the seductive appeal of Syrah, or the compelling puzzle of a top-notch Pinot Noir, Chile has more to offer than you can even imagine. Their wines are more than eloquent when it comes to terroir expression, and they paint these varietals in a heavenly light.
Varietal Pinot Noir: As one of the oldest grape varieties in the world, Pinot Noir has a long and storied history which began more than 2,000 years ago. This story spans form the time of ancient Roman influence to modern day trailblazing; Old World and New World grape growing. It also involves the most unlikely of “characters” from Cistercian Monks to the Holy Pope and even Hollywood actors; each playing a part in the development of the Noble Pinot Noir grape variety. For a grape that appears simple on the surface, it may be one of the most complex varietals on earth, playing a major role in the formation of some of the most profound and distinguished winegrowing regions in the world.

Pinot Noir’s exact origin remains relatively unknown as it is far too ancient to have been recorded precisely. It is thought to have been cultivated in the rocky hillsides of Burgundy by Roman hands as early as the 1st Century AD. At that time, Roman agronomist Columella identified and tasted wine that very much seems to be consistent with today’s description of Pinot Noir. There are complex theories on how either the Greeks or Romans took cuttings of Vitis Vinefera (Pinot Noir) from the area of Transcaucasia (modern day Turkey, Iraq and Iran) and brought the wild vines to France. Speculation aside, what we do know is that the wine-loving ancient Romans spread their dominion far and wide, leaving grapevines in their wake. Their innovative devotion to cultivating wine in French soil set in motion, nurtured, and influenced the winegrowing culture that we very much enjoy today.

Around 1000 AD, long after the dismantling of the Roman Empire, the history of Pinot Noir in Burgundy begins to have clarity, greatly due to the extraordinary record keeping of the Cistercian Order of Monks (formed from the Benedictine Order). The Cistercian Monks began gaining authority outside the area of what we know today as Dijon. Devoted to hard labor and prayer, the monks began cultivating the rocky hillsides of early Burgundy, painstakingly documenting detailed records of their vineyards. Centuries of specifying their practices, describing exactly how and exactly where vines thrived or failed and how the resulting wine tasted, the Cistercian Monks unwittingly created the world’s first harvest reports while simultaneously inventing the idea of terroir. These records and the notion that wines reflect their growing locales, permanently shaped the fundamentals of winegrowing and making terroir a critical concept.

This concept really gained attention when Pope Urban V refused to return the Papal court to Rome from Avignon due to unavailability of Burgundy wines south of the Alps. The lack of commerce routes inhibiting the Burgundy wine trade did not affect the Cistercian Order of Monks as they were driven towards higher quality and excellence through religious devotion instead of monetary gain. Both the outward remarks of the Pope and diligent efforts by the monks helped place Burgundy in a class of its own.

Pinot Noir would eventually spread its wings and infiltrate Champagne, Loire and Alsace, Provence, Sancerre and Languedoc, finding hospitable terroir and new purposes along the way. From bubbles to “pink” wine, it adapted to the soil, revealing the terroir through the wine itself. The early developments and manipulation of the Pinot Noir grape within France was a precursor for the inevitable. The varietal spread through Europe and eventually making a trip around the globe landing in the Willamette Valley, Oregon (planted in 1965 by David Lett).

The Pinot Noir grape quickly found a niche in Willamette Valley where it shares the same latitude of 45 degrees north, experiencing similar sunlight as well as a similar cooler climate to that of Burgundy. A few years later it would be introduced to California where it found terroir hotspots in both cool and surprisingly hotter climates, thus spreading to Napa, Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Carneros among others, birthing New World Pinot Noir winemaking. And, of course, there was the Pinot craze that occurred after the release of the movie Sideways which manifested “Pinot snobs” around America. The 2004 American comedy set the market on fire, increasing sales of Pinot Noir in the state of California by 170 percent.

The varietal of Pinot Noir thrives in cool climates with terroir consisting of marl and limestone soils of extremely variable composition that mimics that of its ancestral home of Burgundy. For a grape that is notoriously difficult to grow, Pinot Noir is ubiquitous in winegrowing regions around the world, spanning 115,000 hectares. It may be a fussy grape, but when planted in the right location and climate, it reveals the qualities of its host terroir in many different manners.

The Noble Pinot Noir grape has greatly impacted the world of winegrowing and making while birthing the concept of terroir; from fruit forward Pinots produced in warmer California localities to New World Oregon wines with Burgundian nuances to Rose in Provence, bubbly in Champagne to the infamous Domaine de la Romanee Conti and its eye watering prices and unrivaled quality. Pinot Noir has long lived the quiet, elegant lifestyle giving Old World winemakers and consumers an ethereal pleasure. New World winemaking has granted it the opportunity for worldwide consumption on any budget and creating the Pinot Phenom. The varietal is now enjoying the best of both “worlds.”

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