Category Archives: Wine

Antiyal: Starting the new year with the Son of the Sun

2010 was a rough year for Chile… so it seems only fitting to start 2011 fresh with a wine that evokes hope and light for the new year.

Antiyal 2007

Bottle Nº 1603 of biodynamically managed Antiyal 2007, from Maipo Alto, Chile

When you think about food & wine pairing, do you think about the occasion as well? I do. So when I was choosing the first wine we would drink on 01/01/11, I wanted it to be meaningful. I checked through all the special wines in my “cellar” (ok, so it’s a closet) for just the right one.

It had to be Chilean—my heart, soul, and life are here. I love Chile, and I love its wines. I wouldn’t dream of kicking off the new year with anything BUT a Chilean wine!

I considered the different icon wines: Almaviva, Lapostolle Clos Apalta, Errázuriz Don Max, Viu Manent El Incidente, Tarapacá Tarapacay, Canepa Genovino, San Pedro Cabo de Hornos, Seña, Concha y Toro Don Melchor, Cousiño Macul Lota, Errázuriz Kai… there were many to choose from, all excellent, many that truly evoke Chile, not only in  vitivinicultural terms, but in the emotional, cultural, and historic sense.

I finally narrowed it down to two: VIA Wines Chilcas Las Almas Carmenere 2008 and Antiyal 2007.

Las Almas is a Carmenere—hard to get much more Chilean than that! And the word “alma” means “soul” in Spanish, and the idea appealed to me. 2010 really was rough; it built character—it “strengthened our constitution” (as a close friend would say), and I’m truly hopefully that 2011 will have more heart, more soul. Chile’s collective “alma” could use a boost and Las Almas was a strong contender.

But then there was Antiyal. Son of the Sun in Mapudungun, the language of Chile’s native Mapuche peoples. A biodynamically made wine from carefully tended grapes in Maipo Alto. A wine that I have an emotional bond with. I know the owners—organic/biodynamic guru-winemaker Alvaro Espinoza and his wonderful wife Marina Ashton—and have been to the winery many times—have even danced on the roof by the light of the moon.

Biodynamics works by recognizing the very close tie between the earth and the cosmos, and after a year in which Mother Nature was very restless, it just seemed right to invoke the Son of the Sun to appeal to her good nature for a calmer, more peaceful 2001.

Antiyal 2007 it was then.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not just about emotions. This is one exceptional wine from Maipo Alto. Thick deep plum-red legs dribble slowly down the glass as aromas of rich, dark fruit waft out of it. Blackberries, plum, prune, with a pinch of spice, licorice, and hint of leather on the complex and heady nose. No need to stop there! It’s lush and juicy with more plum and blackberry on the palate, with a wonderfully long finish.

The tannins are there-but nicely balanced and sure enough of themselves to make their presence known without stealing the show. My tasting notes say “a ripple of muscle under a flowing silk shirt” (Can you tell I’d been watching Chinese movies?).

Delicious acidity keeps all that richness bright and juicy, although the alcohol is high enough that I put it in the fridge on this warm summer evening (New Year’s is summer here in Chile) to bring the temperature down to a very pleasing  16ºC / 60º-ish F.

Antiyal 2007:

53% Carmenere
23% Cabernet Sauvignon
25% Syrah
14.5% alcohol
Unfiltered and made with 100% organically grown, biodynamically managed grapes.

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Chile’s Culinary Front: the Best of 2010

It’s that time of year again: Chile’s El Mercurio newspaper’s Wikén magazine has announced its favorite Chefs and Restaurants for 2010. Here’s the skinny–in English– along with a bonus track…

El Mercurio's Revista Wikén, Aug 27, 2010

Cover Revista Wikén, Aug 27, 2010

At our house we always read Wikén, the weekly food, wine & entertainment supplement that comes with El Mercurio every Friday, but there is one edition per year that we especially look forward to. And today was the day: the Annual Ranking of Chile’s best chefs and restaurants.

You can read the whole thing yourself in Spanish here: (El Wikén: Mejores Chefs y Restaurantes 2010), but I’ll give you the basics in English right here, complete with comments as a bonus track. All restaurant addresses and phone numbers are listed in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page.

Click to discover what the crew at El Mercurio (and I) think about the Best Chefs, Best Restaurants, and up-and-coming people, trends & foodie hangouts in Chile er, Santiago, er, kinda the same thing… ? What do YOU think?

Continue reading

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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: Continue reading

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Just Say NO to Crispy Wine

¿Vino quebradizo?

Chilean Spanish uses lots of words borrowed from other languages, especially English, and, not being a purist, I generally have no problem with that—why would I? English is full of “borrowisms.”

But when it comes to “winespeak,” there’s one misused crossover that drives me up the wall. Wine is not, cannot, and never will be “crispy.” And I’ll tell ya why… Continue reading

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MOVI wins Vitivinicultural Initiative of the Year Award

By Margaret Snook

What a great night!
Chile’s Círculo de Cronistas Gastronómicas (Chilean Circle of Food & Wine Writers) held its annual awards ceremony last night to deliver its awards to those who rock Chile’s food & wine world. (See my write-up and the complete list of winners at Cachando Chile).

MOVI members, winners of the 2009 Viticultural Initiative of the Year Award, March 30, 2010 (Photo (c) MSnook)

As a member of this group, I had the right—and tremendous honor—of presenting an award to a group of innovative winemakers, several of whom I am proud to include among my friends (and not just on Facebook!).

I was very pleased to present the Iniciativa Vitivinícola del Año (Vitivinicultural Initiative Award) to MOVI, the Movimiento de Viñateros Independientes (Independent Vintners Movement). Continue reading

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