Kankana del Elqui Solar Nº 10: new Syrah from Viña San Pedro

Tis the season… for new Chilean wine releases that is.
Viña San Pedro launched the latest results of its “Origins Project” last night: Kankana del Elqui Solar Nº 10 2007 Syrah, and I’ll tell you right up front: es una delicia… Even if you don’t speak Spanish, it should be easy enough to understand that this is one delicious wine.

Viña San Pedro Kankana del Elqui Solar Nº 10 Syrah 2007, Elqui Valley, ChileI originally planned to tell you the back story, that this is a cool-climate Syrah from an increasingly important denomination of origin (appellation) at the edge of the desert (Elqui Valley), about the climate and the soil, about where the name Kankana comes from (indigenous name for a mountain nearby), the story behind the label design, but no. We can get to all that wine-geeky stuff some other time.

Wine is about pleasure, so a wine review should start there. So I’ll tell you what you really want to know first, and then we can all go about our day and I’ll come back and tell the rest of the story later.

What you really want to know:

What’s in the Glass:

Straight to the point: I loved this wine, right from the first dribble of deep dark purply-red juice out of the decanter, to the blueberry nose, to the last lingering hint of edgy fruit on the long finish.

A truckload of fresh-picked blueberries backs right up to the glass and pours itself out with more black fruit and a slight floral note up front. Give it a swirl, let the elements start to mingle, and then things really get interesting. A bit of darkest chocolate (think 90% cocoa) followed by a whiff of tobacco leaf, cigar box, even a hint of incense—alright, you get it—it’s complex. Take a sip. It’s deep, dark, crisp, and juicy, with just enough tannins to let you know this wine’s no wimp. The overall effect is streamlined and mineral-edged lean—if you’re into big-bomb Shiraz you’re in the wrong place—but even if you are, try it anyway and you may surprise yourself. This one’s about balance; it’s got lots going on and all working together. The alcohol is on the high side (14.1% oops, my geek is showing), but serve it slightly cool and you’ll never notice because all the other elements are in sync, and yep—you got it—pleasure in a glass. I’ll have another please…

Pleasure deserves company:

Even though there’s plenty going on in the glass, this is no center-stage wine that demands your full palate attention. Nope, this is a friendly sort that would be happy to sidle up to the right dish. My imagination wandered as I sipped, and I started fantasizing about juicy grilled lamb choplets, a nice medium-rare rib-eye, a tantalizing T-bone, and mentally invented bacon-wrapped beef and dried fig skewers… dishes full of flavor with a bit of fat and a slight fruity-based sweetness to tie it all together. A wine-loving cook could really go places with this wine.

Look for it. Try it. You deserve it!

Price in Chile: $25,000 pesos.

By Margaret Snook for “Tasting Chile”

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