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.