Highlights: A País Pair from southern Chile’s Carter Mollenhauer

Karine and her husband, Edgar Mollenhauer run their family winery in the Maule, making a few small-production wines from indigenous grapes. Their idea is to elevate the reputation of purity and authenticity of Chilean wine through organic farming, and minimal intervention in the cellar. Everything is done by hand, with gravity (instead of pumps), and native ferments.

Working internationally (California, Barossa, Côtes du Rhône) and throughout Chile (Don Melchor, Seña, and Viña Carmen), Edgar grew the need to rediscover the wines of his native country, so he could enjoy making and drinking the types of wines he discovered around the globe. They began the Carter Mollenhauer project in 2014.

I tried a pair of their País. 

Ribera Huenchullami Morros Costinos Secano Costero 2020, DO Maule, Chile
Ribera Huenchullami is a side project with friends, and only a handful of bottles were made. This coastal vineyard is only 5.6km from the cool Pacific, and Edgar believes it to be the closest old vine País site to the coast in Chile. These dry farmed, ungrafted bush vines were planted in 1920 in mica schist soils. This was foot trodden whole cluster in open vat, native fermented, before a 6 months’ rest in French barrels. Buzzy quartz hums throughout, with a long, fine tannic grip tightening wild plum, downy cherry, iris, lit with bright, brisk acidity. Very saline on the unfined / unfiltered finish. 91/100

Carter Mollenhauer Aurora de Itata País 2020, DO Itata, Chile
From Pachagua, in Itata, this is dry farmed ungrafted bush vine País, planted around 1800, making them 200ish years old. It is rooted in quartzic granite, around 100m. It was native fermented, with 90% whole cluster, and gently foot trodden before resting in 3000L concrete, (14% in 225L older French barrels) for 8 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Quite light bodied and hued, this carries ample fragrant iris, wild plum, wild blueberry, tayberry along the slight palate, hugged with long, fine tannins. The salinity lingers long on the finish. So bright and finessed. 93/100

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Treve Ring

Treve Ring is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveller. [She is also Correspondent Anorak.]