I have been very fortunate to have shared a friendship with Christelle Guibert for almost two decades. Her sterling work at Decanter Magazine and at the Decanter World Wine Awards as Tasting Director has helped elevate these two entities for many years. Christelle recently announced that she will be moving on to newer, greener pastures just over the proverbial bridge. I just hope her new travails and new role allow her time to continue with her secret double life as a vigneron / winemaker.
Indeed, few outside the wine trade know that Loire originating Christelle owns, grows and makes fabulous white wines in Muscadet under her Vine Revival Terre de Gneiss label with the help of vigneron Vincent Caille. The vines are situated in the village of Monnieres, where the fruit is vinified using biodynamic principles, hand harvested and fermented in an egg. But there is none this year due to adverse weather conditions so Christelle has moved her attentions temporarily to producing a fabulous Muscat orange wine made from 150 year old vines in the Itata Valley in Chile. With the valuable assistance of Leo Erazo, 2000 bottles of the maiden 2016 vintage were produced.
This is a unique, delicious, characterful wine that reminds me of some of the finest natural style skin contact white wines made from Zebbibo (Muscat) in northern Italy. The grapes are organicly grown in bush vines on steep granitic hill side vineyards and are ungrafted and dry-farmed. The wine spent 42 days on its skins in concrete spherical shaped tanks. Only natural yeasts were employed and the wine was bottled bone dry, unfiltered. Stylistically, I would even go as far as to say this is one of the best dry orange wine Muscats I have ever tasted. Track this rare unicorn down quickly before it’s all gone. 🇫🇷 🍷 🇨🇱
Christelle Guibert Tierra del Itata Muscat Orange Wine 2016, 13 Abv. Chile
Seductive dark yellow straw colour, there is a slight haze to remind you of this wine’s natural, minimalist winemaking aspirations. Raised in a concrete sphere, the nose is reminiscent of the most seductive Zebbibo wines, positively overflowing with sweet quince, rose water, lychees, barley sugar, Thai basil, marzipan and pithy new season bitter marmalade on buttered brown toast. The amazing depth and complexity follows to the palate that is full bodied, intensely concentrated, superbly fresh with a vibrant acidity and a piquant, sweet / sour peachy depth. The key to this wine remains its mouth watering freshness allied to its pithy, bone dry liquid mineral finish. Once again, this is a triumph of old vine fruit intensity and passionate artisanal winemaking. Drink now and over the next 3 to 5+ years.
(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)