2016 Pedro Parra y Familia, Cinsault “Imaginador” Itata, Chile.
Pedro Parra is one of the world’s most sought after terroir specialists, literally he is Doctor Dirt, with a Ph.D on the subject, and with a masters in precision agriculture, he consults all over the globe and is currently working with some of France’s top winemakers as well as crafting his own naturally styled wines from his native Chile. The Concepcion born and raised Parra makes his wines from ancient vines in the Itata region, Chile’s first viticultural area established back in the 1,500’s when the Spanish missionaries arrived here and planted vineyards, mostly Pais (Listan Prieto) aka the Mission Grape, the 200 million-year-old Batholith terroir is home to 200 to 300 year old still producing vines, some of the oldest on the planet, and the granite soils give a striking mineral presence, with the cool costal breezes helping extend the growing season to add complexity and natural acidity. Along with the Mission Grape there is old vine Carignan, Muscat, Palomino and Cinsault, and like South Africa the Cinsault takes on a unique and complete character allowing for impressive solo efforts from this varietal which usually is a blending grape in it’s home regions of Provence and the Rhone where it is considered a bit too simple to go it alone in most cases, while Parra’s version is impressively expressive and deep. I’ve become a huge fan of Parra’s wines and especially enthusiastic about this Cinsault and this 2016 is my favorite to date, with it’s vibrancy and purity it really thrills in the glass, less raw and funky than the prior examples it delivers a wonderful performance with each sip getting better than the last, it shows a bright intensity and stylish charm that is beautiful in bouquet, medium bodied and with ripe fruit on the textured palate. It starts with vivid and lush cherry, dusty floral tones, flinty spices and light cedary notes before gaining a darker sense with plum and forest berry fruits coming through along with wild lavender, minty fennel and candied citrus that adds complexity and live to this lovely garnet/ruby Cinsault. A touch more mineral freshness, fuller fruit and with a bit more width than a southern Rhone version this Parra example manages a deep expression of place and leaves a thoughtful impression, it’s makes for an exceptional hand made wine, especially for the price, drink over the next 3 to 5 years.
($26 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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