Tag Archives: Chilean 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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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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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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Casa Silva puts Colchagua’s Cool Coast on the Map

Terroir is a big thing in the wine world… It has to do with wines of origin… wines that reflect the geological and geographical and climatic conditions of the vineyards to create wines that cannot be reproduced any place else. Chile has produced wine for more than 450 years, but in the last 20 or so, it has engaged in the search for new places to grow wine grapes… and in a country full of amazingly diverse little nooks and crannies, there is plenty to be discovered!

Casa Silva Cool Coast Flight Plan

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J. Bouchon Las Mercedes Ensamblaje 2006

By Margaret Snook, May 2, 2009

J. Bouchon Las Mercedes Blend 2006

J. Bouchon Las Mercedes Blend 2006

Even without peeking at the label, there are two things that are immediately evident upon the first glance at this wine: (1) it has a good share of Cabernet in it, and (2) this is no spring chicken. How so? First, Cabernet, by its nature, tends to be more plum-colored and less brilliant than most other varieties, so there’s the tip-off. Then the age thing. Again, it shows in the glass—that plummy color goes a bit darker and loses a bit of its original shimmer. Don’t get me wrong, this is no geezer—not by a long shot—but it’s got some evolution on it (which has its benefits). It spent its first year in the barrel (French, we’re told), and a couple more in the bottle. That’s not a long time as far as wine goes, but since most Chilean wine is sold (and consumed) within the first year or two, the fact that this 3-year-old is on the market now is a bit of an anomaly… and as such at least worth paying attention to.

There’s plenty of plum here, from the color to the aroma to the flavor. Some fresh fig, some blackberry, and even a touch of violet too. With a bit of O2 in the glass, Bouchon’s tell-tale mint comes through. Paying a bit more attention, you’ll notice something meaty about it—that’s the Syrah talking. And then there’s a hint of tobacco, most likely from the Malbec.

Take a sip. There’s plum there too, along with a bit of dark chocolate, balsamic vinegar, maybe a bit of soy sauce. It’s got Cab tannins, so there’s some grip there, but they’ve softened and smoothed out around the edges. The Maule Valley acidity is there too, keeping it fresh.

This is a fairly complex wine, which is simply a fancy way of saying that all its descriptors don’t jump out at you all at once. Time in the bottle have allowed its aromas and flavors to meld into something all their own, making them harder to describe individually, making this wine more unique, lending it a character of its own.

To me this fits into my “grown up wine” category. It’s well-made and would make a great food wine (I’m thinking beef roulade with bacon and mixed mushrooms, maybe a wild rice pilaf or rostied potatoes on the side). But it’s kind of a Frank Sinatra wine. I know he was good, but he doesn’t excite me. I want a bit more spark in my wine, just like my music…

Denomination of Origin: Maule Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Syrah (40%), Malbec (15%)
Alcohol: 13.5%
Sold: Vinoteca


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