After the tour of the winemaker Max Weinlaub at New York:
Viña Maipo stands out in the US press
Viña Maipo wines had a positive appearance in the US press after the visit of their winemaker at the Big Apple in October 2016. Below a summary of the most outstanding news in magazines and media press published in the recent months.
Chile’s Viña Maipo Offers Impressive Wines at a Wide Range of Prices
February 23, 2017 | 10:30 am By Gabe Sasso
From an $11 chardonnay to a $110 syrah, these wines reflect regional character and precision winemaking.
Viña Maipo was founded in 1948, and utilizes numerous sustainable farming practices.
Viña Maipo is part of the Concha y Toro family of wineries. Considering that a plethora of properties exist under their umbrella, it’s most impressive that they can offer quality and value at every conceivable price point. The wines of Viña Maipo are part and parcel of that. Ranging in price from right around $10 to over $100, each release offers fair (or better) quality in the bottle than the sticker price would suggest.
Founded in 1948, the winery has been run by winemaker Max Weinlaub for the last decade. He tends to 5,000 acres of vineyards of both estate and grower properties. While Viña Maipo isn’t certified organic or biodynamic, they utilize numerous sustainable farming practices. Their wines provide value, but aren’t specifically what one would describe as value wines. What they are are wines that highlight the grapes in question and the vineyards in which they were grown. Most importantly, they’re delicious.
Vitral Reserva Chardonnay 2016 ($11). These grapes, too, are from Aconcagua, Central Valley, and Coquimbo Valley, Aconcagua Valley. Aging was accomplished over six months in stainless steel fitted with French oak staves. Tropical and stone fruit aromas dominate the nose. The fresh, fruit-forward palate features golden delicious apple, yellow cling peach, and oodles of spice. Vanilla bean, bits of pear, and a dollop of vanilla are evident on the solid finish.
Vitral Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($11). The grapes for this wine come from Aconcagua, Central Valley, and Coquimbo Valley. Aging took place over four months in stainless steel. Gooseberry aromas emerge from the nose along with hints of jalapeño. The palate is stuffed with yellow melon, citrus, and hints of savory herbs. Lemon ice and wet limestone characteristics are evident on the lovely finish.
Gran Devoción Carménère 2013 ($25). In addition to carménère (85 percent), some syrah (15 percent) was blended in here, with all of the fruit coming from the Maule Valley. Aging occurred over 14 months in a combination of American and French oak. Viña Maipo does a particularly outstanding job here with Chile’s signature red grape. Fresh red cherry, violets, and black pepper inform the nose. Juicy red fruits tinged with black are joined by savory herbs throughout the dense palate. Cinnamon; dark, dusty chocolate; and continued fresh red fruits dominate the long, complex finish.
“Handpicked” Syrah 2012 ($35). This is a blend of 86 percent syrah and 14 percent cabernet sauvignon. The fruit came from Quinta de Maipo, Maipo Valley. The wine spent 30 months aging in French oak. Blackberry and wisps of herbes de Provence are evident on the welcoming nose. Black fruits are strewn throughout the juicy, layered palate. Smoked bacon, black raspberry, and bits of chocolate sauce are evident on the long, lusty finish.
Protegido Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($50). This cabernet sauvignon has 1-percent dollops of cabernet franc, syrah, and petit verdot blended in. Cabernet sauvignon is one of the grape varieties that thrive in several growing regions within Chile. This one comes from Maipo Valley, the winery’s home region. Red berry fruit aromas are intermingled with bits of black fruit and spice. Red raspberry, cherry, and dark chocolate notes drive the intense, full-bodied palate. The persistent finish has bits of earth, dried red cherry, chicory, and a hint of thyme. This cabernet will evolve gracefully for the next dozen years or so.
Alto Tajamar Syrah 2012 ($110). One vintage after another, Viña Maipo picks their best lots of syrah and cabernet sauvignon for this wine (the percentages this vintage are 92 and 8, respectively).. Blackberries, roasted espresso, and hints of vanilla bean are present on the nose. The palate is dense, layered, and loaded with black fruit flavors such as black raspberry, cherry, plum, and more. Leather, earth, spices, and a touch of chocolate sauce are present on the prodigious finish. This remarkable wine is just another example of the level of greatness that can be achieved in Chile. Alto Tajamar is opulent and powerful while also being elegant and precise.
Source: Snooth Drink Great Wine
2016 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
January 13, 2017 | By Gabe Sasso
Viña Maipo 2012 Alto Tajamar ($110)
One vintage after another they pick their best lots of Syrah (92%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (8%) for this wine. Blackberries, roasted espresso and hints of vanilla bean are present on the nose. The palate is dense, layered and loaded with black fruit flavors such as black raspberry, cherry, plum and more. Leather, earth, spices and bits of chocolate sauce are present on the prodigious finish. This remarkable wine is just another example of the level of greatness that can be achieved in Chile. Alto Tajamar is opulent and powerful while also being elegant and precise.
Source: Beverage Journal
December 12, 2016 | By Kristen Bieler
Helmed by winemaker Max Weinlaub, historic Vina Maipo winery champions premium Chilean Wine- and Syrah
Chile has long grappled with one of those good-to- have problems: It can make highquality wine with almost any grape. With a diverse range of soil types and microclimates, the influence of the ocean and Andes mountains, and huge temperature fluctuations from day to night, dozens of varieties thrive here. While this denies them the marketing impact that, say, Argentina has with Malbec, it’s a blessing for winemakers who like to experiment.
That said, there are a few grapes that work exceptionally well, and winemaker Max Weinlaub believes Syrah is one of them: “We see a great potential with this grape. I believe Chile can become an important benchmark for Syrah.”
Viña Maipo was among the first wineries to plant Syrah in the late 1990s and has been increasing plantings ever since. Now that those vines are mature, Weinlaub is even more encouraged by what he is witnessing: “From Rapel, we get Syrah that is fruit-forward and accessible, from Maule comes more powerful Syrah and Maipo gives examples that are elegant and complex, very Rhône-like in their aromatic intensity.” Others have taken note, and today Syrah, though still a minor player, is the sixth most planted grape.
While Weinlaub showcases Syrah on its own, he has discovered it serves as a critical supporting actor in other wines as well for the much-needed acidity it contributes. “When dealing with very ripe grapes, as we often have in Chile, I prefer not to add tartaric acid,” he describes. “Adding Syrah is my natural trick for acidifying.” Small amounts of Syrah can be found adding spice and brightness to several Cabernets and Carmeneres in Viña Maipo’s line-up.
A Pioneer’s Journey
As Chile enters a new chapter with a greater emphasis on premium wine production, Viña Maipo—one of the country’s most historic producers—embarks on a new era. Founded in 1948, the winery was christened with the name of the town and Valley where it was located (one of the few wineries in Chile permitted to use the name of the region in its brand name). Concha y Toro purchased Viña Maipo two decades later and grew its footprint. More recently, Viña Maipo has focused on its top-tier offerings, a move that was accelerated in 2007 with the appointment of Weinlaub. “My aim has been a shift toward regional and site-specific wines,” he explains. He has helped fine-tune farming practices in the 5,000 acres of land under Viña Maipo’s control—60% of which are estate vineyards.
Of the many exciting developments in Chile’s wine scene, the general population remains unaware, believes Jesse Salazar, Union Square Wine & Spirits: “We need people to get their heads around Chile as more than just a wine factory, but a vast and diverse agricultural landscape.” Salazar joined Victoria James, wine director at NYC’s Piora restaurant, and Chris Raftery, head sommelier at NYC’s Corkbuzz, to discuss the category and taste through a range of Viña Maipo’s wines. For example, Chile’s white wine production remains under-the- radar, laments James: “People think of Chile as a red wine producer, and while they may be slowly beginning to appreciate the great Sauvignon Blancs that can be made there, I think Chardonnay suffers from the same reputation problem that Syrah has for a lot of consumers: They were overexposed to poorly made styles and need to rediscover what the grape can be.” Viña Maipo sources their Chardonnay grapes from cool-climate regions like Casablanca and Limari, and crafts a low- oaked, bright style which sommeliers and consumers alike are looking for now.
The Carmenere Conundrum
Carmenere—the closest grape Chile has to a signature variety—is another variety with a spotty track record. Bad Carmenere has hurt the entire country’s reputation, believes James: “For consumers who have had poor Carmenere, it has ruined their perception of Chile.” With lots of natural pyrazines—the compound which makes a wine taste green and vegetal—Carmenere must be planted in the right place, its vines managed in a very specific way and picked at exactly the right time. “If you do all these things, you can make great Carmenere,” says Weinlaub. “You have to be very skilled to avoid bad Carmenere; for decades no one understood this. Even recently, there were Carmemere vines in Casablanca, which is way too cold for that grape.”
Viña Maipo’s version was a happy stand-out—supple, spicy and immensely drinkable, the group concurred. “I want to showcase the roasted red pepper and cinnamon spice this grape offers, with hints of truffle and earth,” says Weinlaub.
As Chile’s potential is still being realized, industry support—such as the enthusiastic endorsement of sommeliers—is essential. James features five Chilean wines on the Michelin-starred Piora’s wine list. “They are often a hand-sell; If a customer asks for Opus One, I tell them we don’t carry it but try this Chilean red instead. They are never disappointed.”
2015 Vitral Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Chile
“Chilean Sauvignon Blancs offer a nice middle ground,” said Weinlaub. “They are not a bomb of fruit or a bomb of grass.” Made with grapes from coastal vineyard sites, this bright example sees only stainless steel. James described it as grassy, racy, lean and fresh; Raftery liked its crisp jalapeño and white grapefruit notes. $11
2015 Vitral Reserva Chardonnay, Chile
From vineyards in Casablanca and Limari, this Chardonnay clocks in at a slightly lower alcohol than usual, a result of the cool vintage. Salazar praised the mix of green apple and cream soda notes with just a hint of voluptuousness. Raftery liked the salty, crisp lemon notes. $11
2015 Vitral Carmenere, Chile
This tasty Carmenere was a group favorite—particularly for the price. “I would drink this out of a carafe and find a lot of pleasure,” said Salazar. Raftery and James found it accessible and delicious—perfect served with a slight chill. $11
2013 Protegido Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle de Maipo
Dollops of Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Petit Verdot fill out this fullbodied Cabernet marked by spice, smoke, black fruit and chocolate. $50
2013 Viña Maipo Gran Devocion Carmenere / Syrah (15%)
Valle de Maule Carmenere thrives in Maule Valley’s clay, alluvial soils. Raftery found it nicely charred and complex, “a great alternative to a California or Australian wine” at an attractive price point; “a great BBQ brisket wine,” he added. Salazar believes the addition of Syrah could be a great selling point for the misunderstood varietal, since it’s familiar.$25
2012 ViÑa Maipo Limited Edition “Handpicked” Syrah, Valle de Maipo
Grown in rich, clay soils, this Syrah from the Quinta de Maipo vineyard owes its firm backbone to the addition of 14% Cabernet. James complimented its nice structure and smoky black pepper notes. $35
2012 Alto Tajamar (92% Syrah, 8% Cabernet), Quinta de Maipo Vineyard
Weinlaub only crafts 100 cases of this top Syrah bottling each year, made from the best blocks of grapes from three different soil types in the Quinta de Maipo vineyard. Full-bodied and expressive, it shows fresh berry and cocoa flavors and softened tannins. Raftery noted that in spite of power and concentration of fruit, there is still fresh acidity.$110
Source: Beverage Dynamics
http://beveragedynamics.com/2016/11/04/interview-vina- maipos-max- weinlaub/
Interview: Viña Maipo’s Max Weinlaub On What’s Impacting Chilean Wine
November 4, 2016 | By Jeremy Nedelka, editor of Beverage Dynamics.
For nearly 70 years, Viña Mapio has been making wines in the Maipo Valley of Chile, and sources its grapes from 5,000 acres of estate-owned and grower vineyards. Viña Maipo’s portfolio of brands sells approximately 100,000 cases per year in the U.S. For the past 50 years, the winery has been owned by Concha y Toro, Chile’s largest wine group. And for the past decade the brand has been headed by Chief Winemaker Max Weinlaub, who I recently had lunch with as we sampled Viña Maipo’s portfolio of wines.
The following is an excerpt from that conversation, and the wines we sampled are in the gallery below.
Beverage Dynamics: What’s having the biggest impact on Chilean wine right now?
Max Weinlaub: The perception among many consumers is that Chile means inexpensive – quality wines, but at a low price point. It’s difficult to move price points, especially when you start at a lower point and set the expectations there. We believe Chilean wines can be successful at higher price points, but it will take time to change the overall consumer perception. Our goal right now with Vitral is to give consumers “Chile in a glass,” and our price point for that brand is $9.99 per bottle.
BD: Which varietals do you find interesting to work with?
MW: We’re developing our own style of Sauvignon Blanc in Chile – not as expressive or powerful and gooseberry-driven as in New Zealand, but not as austere as in France. We have something unique to express there. The Carmenere is also an interesting but tricky varietal. It was rediscovered in 1994 and the industry was excited to show everyone this new product from Chile. But the first wines were not very well-accepted, and it took time to learn that the varietal requires a special climate, soil and management. If you know how to deal with those factors, you can show the good parts of Carmenere. That’s my commitment and my challenge.
BD: How does Chile’s geography impact your grapes, which are grown in every part of the country?
MW: Our philosophy is to find the best conditions for each varietal. For our ultra-premium offerings, they come from a specific area where the climate and soil are a key factor in the result. For our red wines, we have clay near the coast that keeps nutrients and moisture, which is important for the Carmenere and Merlot. For Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s a little different. In the south, we have more extreme weather conditions with a wider temperature fluctuation between day and night, which creates a concentration of colors and tannins. Each region is distinctive, and we have vineyards in most of the valleys throughout Chile.
Logically, you would think that the biggest differences in climate and soil and factors affecting the grapes come when you move from north to south, since Chile is so long and narrow. But actually, the biggest differences occur when you move only a few miles from west to east.
BD: Do your brands have a distinct style that carries over from one vintage to the next?
MW: I make the best blends possible given that season’s conditions. But that said, I believe there are two types of consumers: those who are looking for consistency and want the wine to taste the same (which we try to do with Vitral), and others who want change and enjoy the way each vintage affects the taste.
We respect the same style for every brand, but the taste for some is not exactly the same. For a brand like Gran Devocion, there will be differences from year to year depending on the blend and the grapes. So I respect its style, but try to reflect that vintage’s specific conditions as well.
BD: I’ve heard you’re a big advocate for Syrah. Why Syrah?
MW: In the middle of the 1990s, this conversation would have only been about Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. At the time, Carmenere wasn’t planted in Chile and the industry was concerned about our restricted offerings. As an industry, we decided to try Syrah after the successful results in Australia.
Viña Maipo was one of the first wineries planting Syrah in Chile, and today we still grow grapes on those original vines. In one 500-acre vineyard where we grow Syrah, we have three micro-regions. The lower terrace was formed by the Maipo river and has a lot of sand, then there’s a steep slope with a north-facing ill, and an upper terrace about 3-4 meters up that was formed when the volcanoes in the area were still active and deposited a layer of ash. We use Syrahs from those different regions within a single vineyard to create different blends. It’s a very versatile varietal.