Happy Gillmore

by Liz Caskey on August 25, 2009

Gillmore_Cabernet_FrancHacedor de Mundos, Cabernet Franc Reserva 2006

I will confess that this wine has been on my radar for a long time. For one reason or another, perhaps because it was Cabernet Franc which kind of came off as “uninspiring”, I put off trying it. On my last visit to my favorite wine shop, La Vinoteca, after the usual chitchat and an impromptu tasting, I decided to give this wine a go. Looking back, all I can say is, what was I waiting for?

Gillmore is a boutique, family-run business in the up-and-coming Maule valley, about 200 kilometers south of Santiago. This valley is producing knock-out reds including some unusual ones from old vines like Carignan, Cabernet Franc, and of course, Carmenere and Cabernet Franc. The young, 30-something Daniela Gillmore is the “juice” of this business paired with the talented winemaking of her husband Andres Sanchez. They really have invested all their creative energy into making this business an expression of their lives in Loncomilla, the micro region in the western reaches of the Maule.

The philosophy of Gillmore is to farm using century-old rootstock that has been grafted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Carignan, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Syrah . They use dry farming which depends on the winter rains and does not irrigate during the hot summer months. The stress placed on these old vines produces low yields of tiny, concentrated berries which produce naturally balanced wines. Also bare in mind that Loncomilla is 3 hours south of Santiago and the next to last vineyard heading towards Constitución on the coast even though summers can be scorchers, on average, cool breezes and lower temperatures abound.

This Cabernet Franc is the superstar of their top line, Hacedor de Mundos, literally meaning “Creator of Worlds”, a fitting name. Perhaps that is what they are seeking in each bottle–to create a new experience for you, the consumer. On the nose, even with only 15 minutes decanting in the glass (and a lot of swirling), this wine was immediately approachable, olfactively speaking. Cherry and berry aromas combined with a seductive whiff of spices and even a slightly minty/herbaceous note.  In the mouth, the wine was pleasingly crisp, fresco, as they say in Spanish, which characterizes a red with good acidity and vibrancy.

From there, the flavor went in crescendo. The tannins were firm yet not abrasive and with that acidity, it pulled through in a nice, long finish and good aftertaste. Balance, balance, balance–this wine certainly had it. It was fruity yet a little restrained without being a garden-variety fruit bomb. Quite frankly, it was one of the most delighful Chilean reds I have tasted in a while. If this is a compliment, my husband and I polished off the bottle over dinner and conversation, something that rarely happens these days (I have become a lightweight!). Most importantly, this wine had what I am always seeking: personality. It spoke not only of its origin and the positive energy with which it was made, thinking back after the wine was gone (and totally enjoyed), I felt like I had met a charming new friend at a dinner party with great conversation and a unique yet shared perspective. Not only did I remember him/her, I wanted to hang out again! 

 At US$16 (about 9,000 Chilean pesos), this is a total deal. Get it at La Vinoteca in Santiago or for those in the US, with a little searching, it is findable. Worth the effort to discover this grape variety, this valley, this place, this winery, and this amazing couple making it with all their passion.