A visionary, a pioneer…whatever the term is, De Martino Estate is ahead of its time. Without them, it would be a rather different story for Chilean wines today. When the country was known for their bland bulk wines, the estate was winning hearts with their quality estate-bottled wines. While many were selling the (in)famous Chilean Merlot, De Martino’s were exporting properly labelled bottles with the mistaken/newly discovered in the 90s/long-lost grape, Carmenere. And while other wineries in the region relied heavily on chemicals, De Martino was already 100% certified organic (by 2000).
But their most trailblazing move came in the mid-2000’s when they came to a complete pause and did an overhaul.
Their wines, they realized, were so ‘Parker-fied’ that they lost who they were. One would call it an identity crisis, but the estate took a few steps back to soul-search, re-access, and re-strategize. A break that was risky but necessary. Because by the 2011 harvest, De Martino found its own voice once more – with a more elegant and balanced wine style and great drinkability. Each wine’s personality and its terroir were perfectly showcased. Their winemaking approach became more hands-on, with no additives and more natural with neutral, mellow barrels for ageing.
‘One step back, two steps forward’ seems to be the running theme because the De Martino journeyed ‘back in time’ to Itata next. Itata is the oldest wine-producing region in Chile (dating back almost 500 years). All wines were made organically and in tinajas (or amphorae), vessels locally made with adobe clay. De Martino resurrected this traditional way of winemaking, successfully crafting their first vintage of Cinsault in 2012 and then Muscat in 2013, their first orange wine. (Intrigued? Check out these amphorae wines on WP!)
And so, with every vintage, with every vineyard, De Martino Estate continues to produce exciting and authentic wines that personify the different regions of Chile. By being in the forefront, they are able to inspire other winemakers in Chile to find their own soul and essence in their bottles.
(Original article published on Jancis Robinson's site)