We met up with Enrique Carelli (Junior), the Director of Bodegas Carelli, who chatted to us about our range, 34°, and the producer behind the brand.
The Carelli building was built in 1845 and bought by Enrique Carelli in 1943. With only a slight renovation 15 years ago, the building has stayed true to its original design. The large stone blocks and high ceilings keep the environment cool and the conditions ideal for the making and storing of wine.
Due to the Mendoza climate, the main obstacle that they have to overcome is the lack of rainfall throughout the year. In fact, there is only ever usually rain in December and so they have to look at other ways to water the vines. To overcome this they take their water from the ice caps at the top of the nearby mountains. This is collected through channels that transfer the water down and they have created a dam to store the water to use at their convenience. The water is distributed to the vines through a dripping system, which drops water on the vine every couple of hours. This extreme control contributes towards the quality of the wine.
The grapes are hand-picked for highest quality and placed into a de-stemmer to make the grapes ready for crushing and pneumatic pressing. Carelli’s main focus at this point is retaining as much of the fruits characteristics in the grape as possible so temperatures are kept cool, helped by the conditions the building creates. Their wines are mostly 100% varietal wines, however there is sometimes the occasional 1% of other grape varieties for quality and taste purposes.
The Carelli 34° range is of excellent quality and truly defines Carelli and their winemaking skills. The wines are doing superbly in the UK. The Cabernet Sauvignon has just been awarded bronze in the 2011 Sommelier Wine Awards, run by Imbibe magazine, which is a 100% blind tasting from a panel of sommelier.
The story behind the label 34° is a rather humorous anecdote that both father and son find enjoyable to regale. It dates back to when Enrique Senior was in charge, just before Enrique Junior was born. At the time he had only daughters, which was regarded by their local village as a serious problem. They soon voiced their concerns at him having no son to carry on the winery. Then an elderly man in the village proclaimed that he had the recipe for how to make him a produce a baby boy. He told him that he had a farm where they could go for 10 days to stay in and hunt and then he would be able to have a son.
Not worried about his lack of a son but not wanting to offend the man, Enrique humoured him in his harmless invitation. Enrique went and they hunted and relaxed on the farm for 10 days. During this time he was given a special tea and when asked what it was he was told the tea was brewed from Ostrich stomach. Sure enough, after the 10 days, Enrique went home and the next child they had was a baby boy and the “heir” to the Carelli winery.
20 years ago Enrique Senior was told that this farm was to be sold and, unwilling to let that happen, he bought the farm because of everything that it represented. The farm is situated at 34 degrees latitude, the name of the range.