Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting one of Chile’s first wineries, the historical Cousiño Macul. Nestled in the beautiful Maipo Valley, this winery boasts 90 year old Cabernet vines, the oldest vines still in production in Chile.
The winery derives its name from the founder, Matías Cousiño, and Macul, the name of the estate. Macul is Quechua (an indigenous language) for ‘right hand’, indicating the right side of the river that runs through the Maipo. The Cousiño Macul winery has been family-owned since its inception and is now operated by the 6th generation of Cousiños. Lucky for the Cousiño family, the superior wines from stellar vintages aren’t released to the public, kept instead for the family’s private cellar.
Like most higher end wineries in Chile, Cousiño Macul uses French oak for production, but displays in their museum the original barrels which were made of Chilean oak. I’m sure many Canadian consumers of bulk-produced Chilean wines have sometimes noticed a green pepper, under-ripe, or pea-pod type notes, attributes that can be imparted by the use of Chilean oak. The French oak used for Cousiño Macul wines contributes to the round, toasty, and smoky properties.