Wine by the Light of the Moon

Biodynamic-inspired winery Antiyal celebrates ten years of winemaking in Chile’s Maipo Valley.

By Margaret Snook, December 13, 2008

Moon over the Maipo

Moon over the Maipo

One of my favorite things about living in Chile is the opportunity to do such amazing things as dance by the light of the full December moon on the roof of a biodynamic winery in the Andes. How much cooler can life get?

Last night winemaker Alvaro Espinoza–Chile’s organic guru–and his wife Marina Ashton invited a couple hundred people to join them in celebrating 10 years of their personal wine project, Antiyal.

It all began in 1996 when they planted some Cabernet Sauvignon in their front yard. Two years later the first Antiyal–or “Son of the Sun”–was born and quickly gained fame as Chile’s first “garage wine.”  They have since bought another 4 hectares down the road and closer to the Andean foothills, where they planted more vines, built a new bodega, and moved their llamas up the hill.

It’s all organic and biodynamically managed, which means, among other things, that the lunar cycles play a key role in the winegrowing process, so it was absolutely no coincidence that they chose Friday, December 12 for the celebration. Not only was it a gorgeous summer evening perfect for a high-altitude roof-top party, it was also the date when the moon was closest to the Earth.

The guests were also in for a special treat. The popular Chilean singer-songwriter Joe Vasconcellos performed and closed his generous set with the his hit song “Hijo del Sol Luminoso” (Son of the Shining Sun) in honor of the wine of honor.

Anityal is a well-balanced premium blend of organically grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, and Syrah whose proportions change from year to year. I tasted the latest vintage–the 2006– at the party (not the best conditions for serious tasting, but perfect for the occasion! Wine is made to be enjoyed, not analyzed). It’s rich and full-bodied, without being overblown. There’s plenty of red berry fruit with enough tannins and complexity to find a perfect partner in Marina’s incredible chicken liver pate topped with a red-wine & raspberry reduction.

Hmmm- life’s good.

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