Old vine Carignan wine from Maule, Chile


Derek Mossman of the Garage Wine Company, one of the Vigno producers

Vigno (pronounced veenio) is short for Vignadores de Carignan. It’s a new collaborative project to promote old vine Carignan wines from Maule, and the name Vignadores is a mutation from the Spanish term for winegrower, viñadores, with the ‘g’ from Carignan added in.

Old vine Carignan is a neglected treasure of the Chilean wine industry. It was first planted on a large scale in Maule in the early 1940s, when, in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake in 1939, the Ministry of Agriculture proposed encouraging the planting of Carignan to improve the region’s wines. The thinking was that the naturally high acidity and colour of Carignan would improve the local wines.

So for more than 50 years the vineyards of Maule have been home to dry grown, old vine Carignan. Previously a workhorse variety that was used to blend, Chilean winemakers are now realizing they have a precious resource.

Vigno has 12 founder wineries, representing a mix from the small to the very big. They are: Bravado Wines, De Martino, Garage Wine Co, Gillmore, Lomas de Cauquenes, Meli, Miguel Torres, Morande, Odfjell, Undurraga, Valdivieso and Viña Roja.

The rules for Vigno is that the wines must be made from at least 65% old, dry-farmed Carignan vines from Maule, with any balance being also old vine Maule fruit. The vines have to be unirrigated and head pruned bush vines (gobelet).  

This sounds like an exciting, authentic sort of project, so I was pleased to be able to taste through wines from all 12 members with one of the producers, Derek Mossman of the Garage Wine Company.


Vigno De Martino 2008 Maule, Chile
90% Carignan, the balance Cinsault, Malbec and Carmenere. Very sweet open nose with some spice and a bit of rubbery character. The palate is very ripe and sweet with freshness and nice acidity, as well as high tannins. 88/100 (The Wine Society, Caves de Pyrene)

Vigno Gillmore Carignan 2008 Loncomilla, Maule, Chile
100% Carignan. Sweet, pure and fresh with good acidity and attractive plum and raspberry fruit. Supple, ripe and rich with grippy tannins on the finish. 89/100 (Naked Wines)

Vigno Viña Roja Carignan 2008 Loncomilla, Maule, Chile
Sweet nose is aromatic and warm with some spiciness. Quite fruity with notes of ginger and herbs. Very high acidity on the palate with supple cherry fruit and some spiciness, finishing grippy. Unusual, but lovely. 90/100

Vigno Odjfell Carignan 2009 Cauquenes, Maule, Chile
Bold, ripe, sweet and very rich with some alcoholic heat (15.5%) but also sweet cherry, plum and berry fruit. High acidity. Very interesting with nice sweet fruit, but also a little alcoholic. 88/100 (UK agent Alliance Wine)

Vigno Undurraga Carignan 2010 Sauzal, Maule, Chile
Very sweet and appealing with pure cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit. Fine and rich. The pure, sweet fruit is ripe and seductive, and the wine is saved from spoofiness by the lovely freshness and purity, with good acidity. 90/100 (UK agent Moreno)

Vigno Garage Wines Co Carignan 2010 Sauzal, Maule, Chile
90% Carignan, 10% Grenache. Elegant, sweet, open nose with lovely pure raspberry and cherry fruit, with some fine spiciness. The palate is open and elegant with sweet, supple fruit. So appealing with lovely pure sweet fruit at the core. 92/100 (UK agent Bibendum)

Vigno Valdivieso Éclat 2008 Melozal, Maule, Chile
65% Carignan, 20% Mourv
èdre, 15% Syrah. Ripe, supple, sweet and rounded with open cherry and berry fruit. Sweet with ripe fruit dominating. Rich style with fresh fruit. 88/100 (UK agent Bibendum)

Vigno Morande Carignan/Syrah 2009 Loncomilla, Maule, Chile
69% Carignan, 26% Syrah, 5% Chardonnay. Sweet nose has a vanilla oak imprint with attractive sweet cherry and berry fruit. The palate is ripe and open with some elegance as well as noticeable oak. This could age really well. 90/100 (UK agent Coe Vintners)

Vigno Lomas de Cauquenes Carignan 2007 Cauquenes, Maule, Chile
This is the flagship wine of the co-op. It is supple, sweet and spicy with good acidity as well as ripe cherry and plum fruit. Nicely fresh with a real sense of harmony as well as spicy, slightly tarry, plummy fruit. 89/100

Vigno Bravado Wines Garcia Schwaderer Carignan 2009 Melozal, Maule, Chile
Intense, sweet, fresh nose showing berry and cherry fruit. Supple, sweet, smooth palate.  An attractive, ripe wine, showing sleek pure fruit and a spicy frame. Smooth and elegant. 89/100 (Naked Wines)

Vigno Miguel Torres Cordillera Carignan 2008 Maule, Chile
85% Carignan, 8% Syrah, 6% Merlot. Ripe, sweet open cherry and berry fruit nose with a spicy, slightly rubbery edge. The palate is fresh and smooth with appealing purity of fruit. Distinctively Chilean. 88/100 (UK agent JE Fells)

Vigno Meli Carignan 2009 Maule, Chile
Sweet, ripe and quite lush with intense berry fruits and some slightly rubbery Chilean notes. Warm and tannic in a ripe style. Hot finish. 87/100

See also:

Chile's diversity (series based on a visit)
Visiting Chile (series)

Wines tasted 01/12
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