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95-point Chilean Pinot Noir - Oct 2019

The October 2019 edition of Decanter (www.decanter.com) makes its usual, detailed, panel-based, blind-tasted analysis, this time of Chilean Pinot Noir.

We've the topper of that panel, the sole Outstanding (95-point +) wine (and a  93-pointer at only just over a tenner). The top wine has been into and (rapidly) out of stock a few times here and elsewhere in the UK (reflecting high demand and dwindling supplies in Chile), but we're delighted to hold good stocks at present.

There's a lot of truisms in the panel article, but none greater than, "If there's one thing that gets wine lovers hot under the collar, it's Pinot Noir", and, close to it, "As for the Holy Grail - well, that's great Pinot Noir at a bargain price". 

We'll fully testify to that. When award winners, poll-toppers and highly-rateds are announced, we expect demand to go particularly-super-bananas if they are Rioja (=> 'run for cover')New Zealand Sauvi Blanc (=> 'clear the beaches') and Pinot Noir under £25 (=> 'alert The Fleet').

But "great Pinot Noir"? Oh, Chilean Pinot can entirely do and be that ... but it seldom does or is. The trick for you and us lies in finding those hidden gems, so tests/reviews like this are particularly useful in navigating through that iffy Pinot mire.

A mire? Well, yes. Chile has, since its inception, largely (we stress that) majored in quantity over quality, bulk over boutique ... across almost every variety. As Decanter says, "Chile has long been the source of everyday Pinot - one of the few countries to consistently supply this niche".

It need not be a mire: Chile has quite superb, nay, truly perfect terroirs available for Pinot - it can lay claim to ideal soils (including superb limestone-clays à la Cote d'Or), (very) cooling ocean currents and winds, ideal rainfall regimes, a lack of disease... you name it,  it's there. The cooler northern and southern valleys (respectively Limarí, Aconcagua, Casablanca, Leyda [north] and Malleco & Itata, [south]) - away from the heat of the Central Valley (more suited to Cab Sauv, Carmenere, Merlot) - have all that is needed to produce Pinot Noir that rivals the best of Central Otago, Sonoma/Carneros, Walker Bay ... and all but the very best of Burgundy.

<map from Decanter>

Even that latter statement may look different in 20 years. Which is to say that the Chilean Pinot producers continue to make huge strides in their quality. They just have quite a way to go, especally in terms of perception. Perception is definitely an issue: we have plenty of conversations with Pinot aficionados who will simply not consider Chile as worthwhile.

How to typify a Chilean Pinot? Much of the market - and the reputation in general - is one of lightness ... a lack of depth and seriousness. A minerality - sometimes far from subtle - is not uncommon from desert, rock and volcanic soils. Fruit ripeness is seldom a problem. Oak/barrique handling  - where it occurs (much of the <£12 PN sees only steel) - can be too light (unnoticeable) or too heavy (often an overblown sense of charring) ...  but this too is changing and well-balanced treatment is now more widespread as Burgundian and NZ expertise seeps up and down this daftly-long-and-thin nation.

<I now re-read the above and see that I've not painted the most alluring picture of Chilean Pinot. The key is to find the exceptions: those wines that rise above this common herd. There are plenty in the panel review, and the poll-topper is excellent. That's not pushy marketing: we'd not risk our credibility with you in coming reviews by over-applauding a wine. The topper surprised us. We'll get to that in just a moment; bear with us>.

Results: The panel tested 61 Chilean Pinots: two emerged as Outstanding (95+) (none, note as Exceptional (98+), rather bearing out that getting-there-but-not-there-yet message); another 22 emerged as Highly Recommended (90+). Those 24 top wines average a price of ~£18.50. No particular Chilean valley dominated the results, nor did any particular vintage (2014-18 were all on show).

"Get on with it!"? What, you mean, tell you about the poll-topper? Certainly.

The poll-topper we offer is Viña Tabalí's Talinay Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015. We've a lot more detail on this one, and that's all best viewed on the product page (click that link; there's also an excellent video there). It's a single-vineyard wine from their Talinay plot, just 12km inland from the chilly Pacific, in a micro-side-valley of the main Limarí valley. That plot has two key features:

  • an ultra-cool microclimate from the ocean breezes (see sketch below); and
  • soil that is exclusively from/on limestone and chalk, making it (probably) the only such site in all Chile and much akin to the lieux-dits of the Cote d'Or.

Coupled with some very fine-know how and winemaking talent, the outcome is excellent. As the panel said, respectively (see full review below or on product page):

  • "Bright, but muted red fruits. High-ish acidity, quite fresh, refreshing. A lovely example of Chilean Pinot".
  • "A wine that teases you and tantalises. Fresh, crisp, elegant, with coiled energy like a spring. Made by someone who understands proper Pinot. The touch of age gives it extra savoury complexity. Tangy acidity, lovely line and a lifted, engaging, food-friendly finish. Lovely stuff".
  • "Another fine example of Limarí Pinot, this has that strong salty feeling together with a firm, solid structure of tannins, well integrated acidity and refreshing red fruits".

Of course, we had a good taste and check ourselves. We can't just leave these things to outsiders, you know.

We'd definitely expected something rather light and insubstantial (I write as a definite Pinotsceptic), perhaps quite one-dimensional and lacking in complexity. But this really surprised us: there is more density, depth, concentration, multi-layeredness and ... well ... ooomph than the usual, and by some margin. Let's not get carried way: this is Pinot Noir, still, and not a Cabernet. What it is, though, is more akin to a NZ (Otago, probably) or Californian PN in style. It's obviously not Corton, Chambertin or Musigny. But then, at £17.95 a bottle, you wouldn't expect that, would you? 

It's good, and it justifies its billing. We heartily recommend it. 

Before we move on, we should point out that we have some near-contenders in the same panel:

- The Viña Ventolera (Leyda valley) 2016 scores a solid 93 points ("ample and generous", "lovely energy on the palate, said the panel); and

 - the 93-point Echeverria Gran Reserva (Casablanca valley) 2017 is a total steal at just £10.60 a bottle ("a polished wine, lovey Pinot typicity", "excellent definition and lift").

 - ... plus 5 more above 90 points (see all wines at foot of page below).

Viña Echeverria

Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2017

£10.60

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Vina Tabali Talinay Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 (1x75cl)

** AVAILABLE AGAIN! **

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Viña Tabali Talinay Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 - October 2019 Decanter review

Established in 2002, (Viña) Tabalí is a pioneer and iconic winery situated in Limarí, on the edge of the Atacama Desert in one of the northernmost vineyard regions of Chile. They were one of the first wineries to settle in Limarí and their wines faithfully reflect their place of origin in which climate and soils play a fundamental role, and bring out the potential of each of their vineyards.

See this video (~4 mins - may take a short while to download) for a beautiful snapshot of what Tabali are about.

After years of geological research, Tabalí is the only winery that producers wines that cross Chile from east to west in the same valley, from their incredibly high and remote site of Roca Madre (second highest vineyard in Chile) in the Andes Mountains' Rio Hurtado area down to their cool climate, Camanchaca fog-blanketed vineyards by the Pacific Ocean. In their quest for the perfection, they now also have a site in the renowned Cabernet and Merlot region of Maipo Valley. The result is a range of truly distinctive wines with elegance, restraint and minerality. In 2014, winemaker Felipe Müller was named Chilean Young Winemaker of the Year and acclaimed for his ability to understand Tabali´s distinctive terroir and use it to create remarkable wines, unique to Chile.

The Talinay vineyard is located just 12 km from the Pacific Ocean, hidden away in a small side-valley of Limari. This unique location provides truly excellent conditions for cool-climate viticulture and is (believed to be) the only vineyard site in Chile to be planted over pure chalk/limestone soil – producing elegant and refined wines. The constant breeze that drifts from the ocean and over the vines creates the coolest vineyards in Limari. Proximity to the dry Atacama desert ensures the vines are virtually rot and disease free. Maximum average temperatures in the summer months never go above 23.5°C which in terms of picking means 2 or 3 weeks later than other Chilean coastal regions. The small grapes were gently ripened by the cool summer days, freshened by the coastal breeze and the local autumn mist, the famous Camanchaca.

The fruit was hand-picked in April and underwent careful bunch selection by the viticulture team. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks using traditional vinification methods. The grapes were carefully selected by hand-first the bunches and then single grapes in order to be sure that only the best were fermented after a cold maceration for 7 days. Gentle manual pigeage (punching down of the vat's pomace/solids) took place daily to extract colour and flavours, finally a very short maceration after fermentation took place in order to enhance the taste profile on the palate. 100% malolactic fermentation took place in French oak barrels, followed by aging in barrel for 10 months.

For more detail, click the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from Viña Tabalí themselves.

Viña Tabalí Talinay Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 - fiche technique

100% Pinot Noir.

Pretty crimson in colour. Crushed red cherry fruit and limestone minerality makes the aroma hugely alluring. The palate shows typical Talinay characteristics of bright, fresh fruit and finesse. A wine with great texture with full, finely balanced summer fruit flavours, balanced salty acidity and a persistent and captivating finish. Ideal with grilled lamb, roast duck, guinea fowl ... and well tested at Exel with cheese on toast (particularly good).

ABV = 13.5%.

£17.95

Vina Echeverria Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Viña Echeverria Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

Viña Echeverría is a family-run estate winery, owned and managed by the Echeverría family. Established in 1930, but with an agricultural heritage going back to the 1700s, Viña Echeverría is as much today, as always, driven by a shared passion for winemaking and an uncompromising search for excellence. Viña Echeverría combines nearly a century of viticulture and winemaking experience with a modern state-of-the-art winery, to produce a range of over 20 quality wines from nine different grape varieties. It has recently been awarded its Sustainable Winery status by Wines of Chile, as well as its ISO9000 certification.

The vineyard is located in the Casablanca Valley, a cool-climate coastal region close to the Pacific Ocean approximately 47 miles north of Santiago. The proximity to the sea results in a Mediterranean climate, with pronounced maritime influence. The cooling sea breezes from the cold Humboldt stream, tempers the heat of the warm, sunny days and creates cool foggy mornings, ideal for top quality Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The soils are clay and sandy soils, which provide good drainage. Careful pruning ensures the correct balance between canopy and fruit.

The 2017 harvest was characterised by high temperatures throughout the ripening period from véraison onwards and late rainfall during spring. The temperatures were warm and favourable during flowering. The warm average temperatures allowed for a high accumulation of sugars in the berries which resulted in earlier harvest than usual, by one to two weeks. The red wines achieved soft tannins, good colour and a great aromatic expression.

Cold pre-fermentation maceration took place at 5°C for four to five days, in order to extract colour and primary aromas. Fermentation lasted for 10 to 12 days at temperatures of 26° to 29°C in stainless steel tanks, with selected yeasts. Post fermentation maceration lasted for five days, then 100% of the wine went through malolactic fermentation. 75% of the wine was aged in French oak barrels for six months, adding oak complexity to the final blend.

100% Pinot Noir.

This elegant Pinot Noir combines aromas of strawberries, black cherries and raspberries with hints of chocolate and mocha. The palate is round and soft, with refreshing acidity and balanced fruit. Works well with earthy flavours such as mushrooms and truffles, grilled meats - pheasant or a rack of lamb. Try with oily fish such as salmon and tuna.

ABV = 13.5%.

£10.60

Vina Ventolera Ventolera Pinot Noir 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Viña Ventolera Ventolera Pinot Noir 2016 - October 2019 Decanter review

Ventolera is an exciting new venture between founder Vicente Izquierdo and one of Chile's top winemakers Stefano Gandolini. The vineyard, which was planted in 1999, is located in the region of the Leyda Valley, just six kilometres from the Pacific Ocean. The area is being singled out as being Chile's newest and most radical cool-climate wine region, which is strongly influenced by the cooling effects of the Humboldt Current that flows up from the Antarctic. Ventolera is a Spanish word which refers to this strong sea wind; its cooling influence is instrumental in producing wonderfully elegant wines.

The vineyard is located close to the sea, with sea breezes producing a cooling effect which combined with the high levels of humidity, enhances the fruit flavours in the grapes. The vines are trained vertically with strict water control which helps to moderate vigour and encourage small concentrated grapes. Yields are approximately five tonnes per hectare. The vines are grown in granite and alluvial soils. All the grapes are hand-picked at optimal maturity levels, before being taken immediately to the winery in order to retain freshness.

The summer season was cool with cloudy weather during January and February, which slowed down the ripening of the grapes. Early crop adjustments were made in order to produce grapes with the optimal balance between alcohol and acidity. The fruit harvested is elegant and delivers beautiful mineral tones.

Hand- selected grapes were vinified in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures of 23°C with a total maceration time of 18 days. The wine was aged in new French oak barrels for 14 months. This wine was bottled without fining.

100% Pinot Noir.

The vibrant bouquet of cherries and raspberries is a distinctive hallmark of the Leyda Valley Pinot Noir. Expressive and layered on the palate, with great freshness, purity of fruit and a long, structured finish.

ABV = 13.5%.

£23.00

Dominique Derain Las Nubes Pinot Noir 2018 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Dominique Derain Las Nubes Pinot Noir 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

Dominique Derain has farmed vines and made biodynamic wines in his estate located in the old presbytery in the village of Saint-Aubin (Hautes Cotes de Beaune) for thirty years, ever since he bought the estate in 1988. Before being a vigneron, he was a cooper. He is now retired, but has passed his estate on to Julien Altaber and Carole Schwab. He still helps them out in the vineyard and in the winery. Now that he is “an old man” (his own words) and has so many years of experience farming and making wine biodynamically, he regularly receives requests from many vineyard owners throughout the world to vinify wines for them. Dominique enjoys these challenges at this late stage in his life. He met the Chilean vigneron who farms these Pinot vines, one Julio Denoso, through a mutual friend who owns a wine and photograph shop in Paris called Faute ‘O Vin. The friend took Julio to visit Dominique; Julio tasted the wines and proposed to Dominique that he come out to Chile to vinify some of his wines there. A firm friendship has now been forged (Dominique refers to it as “une histoire humaine très sympathique”).

This north-east corner of Casablanca region is only 20 minutes from the ocean, benefiting from relatively mild temperatures, and decent rainfall. The young Pinot vines are planted on terraces at an altitude of 350 metres on granitic-clay soils rich in manganese, and farmed biodynamically.

The grapes for Las Nubes were manually harvested at night to retain acidity, whereupon Dominique did a saignée of the grapes destemming 60% with the remainder whole bunches. Transferred to a cuve tronconique béton, the wine was macerated with skins overnight, whereupon 7hl of juice was drawn off. The wild ambient ferment proceeded in a cement egg, then free-run juice and the press juice were blended and transferred to 40-hectolitre stainless steel vat with adjustable lids, and containing an air chamber, where the wine subsequently spent a further three months ageing and completing its alcoholic fermentation.

Las Nubes was bottled without filtration and fining and zero sulphur was added. The lab analysis gives a total SO2 of just 0.001. You can taste (the lack of) it! The name means “the clouds” and it’s derived from the name of the area in which the vineyard called Montsecano is situated. The owner of the vineyard (Julio’s uncle) asked Dominique to put the name Las Nubes on the label.

A delightful light red, closer to a mid-rosé in colour, with lifted primary red fruit on the nose and on the palate. With its delicate extraction, we are reminded of a really cracking Beaujolais, a kind of Pinot-primeur. This is a very Chilean cuvée by Dominique, a super fruity and very expressive Pinot Noir. The intention here is for a fresh, immediately enjoyable wine, and it hits the spot!

£25.15

Vina Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below) and ... 

Viña Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

... and the (forthcoming) 2018 vintage was also awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status (see blue link below).

Viña Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

Few wineries encapsulate the development of coolclimate winemaking in Chile as well as pioneering Viña Leyda. The first producer to explore this coastal area, a rising star of New World winemaking, it took its name from the local railway station and later lent it to the entire DO of Leyda Valley. If Casablanca Valley represents Chile’s first tentative steps into cool-climate production, Leyda is a series of determined, confident strides: just 14km from the Pacific, the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah planted here express a crispness, minerality and fine-boned structure not found elsewhere in Chile’s viticultural paradise. Viña Leyda now has more than 200 hectares under vine, but the approach remains one of micromanagement, with detailed mapping of each vineyard and individual lot, and constant experimentation with clonal selection and viticultural techniques.

This 100% Pinot Noir comes a vineyard located in the Leyda Valley, just 12 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. Pinot Noir Las Brisas (= breezes) comes from a selection of two blocks with a southwest exposure that sit in an excellent microclimate: The western exposure provides a direct breeze from the Pacific (hence the wine’s name), and the southern exposure provides less direct sunlight, thus a slower grape maturation. It is one of the last Pinots to be harvested. The soils’ surface contains granite, directly related to the wine’s vibrancy and juiciness. 

The grapes were harvested by hand between March 5-14, with 22.8-24° Brix. A vibrating table selected bunches before destemming, gently crushing and filling stainless steel tanks. Half was vinified in open tanks, the other half in closed tanks. The cold maceration lasted four days at 10°C, followed by the alcoholic fermentation. During fermentation, gentle pumpovers were used while maintaining temperatures between 24°-26°C. Once ready, the wine was racked into used barrels (30%), stainless steel tanks (37%) and untoasted French oak (2-y-o) barrels (33%) in order to undergo the malolactic fermentation and age for 10 months before bottling.

This is a great example of Pinot Noir, aromatically fresh and complex. A juicy, fruity and elegant wine. It has a beautiful, bright colour. Clean and fruity on the nose, with hints of red cherries, raspberries and a subtle wild herb note. Las Brisas is delicate and refined on the palate. Juicy with ripe flavours of berries combined with mineral notes and a lively acidity.

ABV = 13.5%.

£15.20

Vina Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their February 2020 edition panel tasting of New World, single-vineyard Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Viña Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2018 - February 2020 Decanter review

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below)

Viña Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

Few wineries encapsulate the development of coolclimate winemaking in Chile as well as pioneering Viña Leyda. The first producer to explore this coastal area, a rising star of New World winemaking, it took its name from the local railway station and later lent it to the entire DO of Leyda Valley. If Casablanca Valley represents Chile’s first tentative steps into cool-climate production, Leyda is a series of determined, confident strides: just 14km from the Pacific, the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah planted here express a crispness, minerality and fine-boned structure not found elsewhere in Chile’s viticultural paradise. Viña Leyda now has more than 200 hectares under vine, but the approach remains one of micromanagement, with detailed mapping of each vineyard and individual lot, and constant experimentation with clonal selection and viticultural techniques.

This 100% Pinot Noir comes a vineyard located in the Leyda Valley, just 12 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. Pinot Noir Las Brisas (= breezes) comes from a selection of two blocks with a southwest exposure that sit in an excellent microclimate: The western exposure provides a direct breeze from the Pacific (hence the wine’s name), and the southern exposure provides less direct sunlight, thus a slower grape maturation. It is one of the last Pinots to be harvested. The soils’ surface contains granite, directly related to the wine’s vibrancy and juiciness. 

The grapes were harvested by hand between March 5-14, with 22.8-24° Brix. A vibrating table selected bunches before destemming, gently crushing and filling stainless steel tanks. Half was vinified in open tanks, the other half in closed tanks. The cold maceration lasted four days at 10°C, followed by the alcoholic fermentation. During fermentation, gentle pumpovers were used while maintaining temperatures between 24°-26°C. Once ready, the wine was racked into used barrels (30%), stainless steel tanks (37%) and untoasted French oak (2-y-o) barrels (33%) in order to undergo the malolactic fermentation and age for 10 months before bottling.

This is a great example of Pinot Noir, aromatically fresh and complex. A juicy, fruity and elegant wine. It has a beautiful, bright colour. Clean and fruity on the nose, with hints of red cherries, raspberries and a subtle wild herb note. Las Brisas is delicate and refined on the palate. Juicy with ripe flavours of berries combined with mineral notes and a lively acidity.

ABV = 13.5%.

£15.20

Montes Alpha Aconcagua Pinot Noir 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Montes Alpha Aconcagua Pinot Noir 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

Montes was established in 1988 by Aurelio Montes, Douglas Murray, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, with the aim of producing the best wines in Chile from the best regions. The Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, first produced in 1987, broke the mould for premium wines in Chile. Since then, Alpha has developed to become the core range in the Montes portfolio. The grapes and sites are carefully selected in order to ensure varietal integrity and complexity. Viticulture is hands on rather than mechanical or industrial.

The Pinot Noir vineyards are planted on gently rolling hills with different aspects and are trained to vertical shoot position. The sites are irrigated via a 'Sustainable Dry Farmed' system, developed by Aurelio and his team, which allows for extremely precise and minimal irrigating, reducing their water footprint by 65%. The vines only require minimal work with the canopy, which enables the growers to obtain healthy grapes with good balance at harvest time. Yields vary between 7,000 and 8,000 kilograms per hectare. The proximity of the vineyards to the Pacific coast endows the wine with tremendous freshness, minerality, and cold-climate typicity. The granitic soils of the Coastal Mountains have varying percentages of clay, which contributes elegance, creaminess and a unique sense of place.

The grapes were cold soaked at 10°C for 5-7 days to extract aroma and colour, especially important for thin-skinned Pinot Noir. After that, the must was fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and then kept on the skins to give structure and colour for another 15-20 days. After malolactic fermentation, the final blend was aged in French oak barrels (25% new) for 10-12 months.

See also (for more detail) the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical/vintage note from the winemakers themselves.

Montes Alpha Aconcagua Pinot Noir 2018 - fiche technique

100% Pinot Noir.

This Pinot Noir is bright ruby red in colour. The nose presents aromas of ripe cherries and raspberries, white pepper and a touch of violets. Medium-bodied, the palate has silky, smooth tannins, fresh and vibrant acidity, and shows well-integrated French oak. The long and perfumed finish is smooth and elegant.

ABV = 14.0%.

£14.15

Vina Leyda Pinot Noir Lot 21 2015 (1x 75cl)

The 2016 vintage (not yet available in the UK despite the implication in the review!) was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Viña Leyda Pinot Noir Lot 21 2015 - October 2019 Decanter review

Few wineries encapsulate the development of coolclimate winemaking in Chile as well as pioneering Viña Leyda. The first producer to explore this coastal area, a rising star of New World winemaking, it took its name from the local railway station and later lent it to the entire DO of Leyda Valley. If Casablanca Valley represents Chile’s first tentative steps into cool-climate production, Leyda is a series of determined, confident strides: just 14km from the Pacific, the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah planted here express a crispness, minerality and fine-boned structure not found elsewhere in Chile’s viticultural paradise. Viña Leyda now has more than 200 hectares under vine, but the approach remains one of micromanagement, with detailed mapping of each vineyard and individual lot, and constant experimentation with clonal selection and viticultural techniques.

The fruits of those labours are reflected not just in their impeccable Reserva range, but in the exciting series of single vineyard and single plot wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay and a trio of top-quality Pinot Noirs.

100% Pinot Noir from estate vineyards in the Leyda Valley, where maritime influence and summer breezes create an extraordinary environment for Burgundian varieties like Pinot Noir.

This single-vineyard wine comes from a selected parcel where all labor is performed by hand, vine by vine. Clusters are carefully selected to keep yields extremely low. Less than 1.75 pounds of fruit is produced by each plant. The grapes were hand harvested, by women only, on March 29nd. The first cluster selection was made in the vineyard followed by a second one made in the cellar in sorting tables. The clusters were destemmed followed by a careful berry selection.

60% of the berries were crushed softly and 40% kept as whole berries. The grapes were chilled down to 46-50° F for 6 days for cold maceration. Alcoholic fermentation took place at 75-78° F during 7 days with a punching down/pigeage regime of 3-4 times per day. After dryness, the wine was immediately racked off the skins into french oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and aged for 10 months. 10% of the barrels are new.

Lot 21 Pinot Noir is a complex and elegant wine, with delicate aromas of strawberries, red cherries, orange peel and herbs with a subtle earth complexity. The first impression on the palate is of fresh, sweet red berries. The middle palate has nice volume with concentrated cherry flavors and soft ripe tannins that cover the entire tongue. The finish is bright and lingering.

£25.80

Outer Limits By Montes Zapallar Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2020 edition panel tasting of New World, single-vineyard Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Outer Limits By Montes Zapallar Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 - February 2020 Decanter review

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Outer Limits By Montes Zapallar Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

Montes was established in 1988 by Aurelio Montes, Douglas Murray, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, with the aim of producing the best wines in Chile from the best regions. The Montes wines are consistently good because they are meticulous throughout the entire production process. The Outer Limits wines were born out of Aurelio Montes' desire to push Chilean viticulture in a new direction. The 45 hectare Zapallar Vineyard in the Aconcagua Valley was Montes' first venture into the 'outer limits'. Due to the balance and concentration in the Outer Limits wines, they can be enjoyed now or allowed to age for a few years, rewarding with a wonderfully complex bouquet.

Grapes come from a single vineyard in Zapallar located seven kilometres from the coast in Aconcagua. Montes is the first producer to plant vines and make wines here. Due to the cool climate, similar to other cool coastal regions in Chile, the wines have racy acidity, minerality, elegance and distinct aromatics. The grapes were all hand harvested at the end of March, later than other areas, due to the cool climate.

The 2016-17 season was generally very dry but bud break and bunch development was good despite the expected 50% yield reduction – an impact of the previous year. As a consequence, the fruit had a higher concentration of phenolics and the well distributed bunches within the canopy ensured healthy fruit. Despite the high summer heat, harvest occurred on schedule and delivered fruit with good acidity levels and ripe tannins.

The grapes were cold-soaked at 10°C for five days to extract aroma and colour, especially important for thin-skinned Pinot Noir. After that, the grapes were fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and then kept on their skins to give structure and colour for another 20 days. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was aged in French oak barrels (20% new) for 10 months.

100% Pinot Noir.

This elegant Pinot Noir has a very aromatic nose, pronounced notes of ripe cherries, blackcurrants, violets and a hint of mild toast from ageing in French oak. A smooth palate with round tannins, alongside a fresh fruit character. Vibrant acidity gives the wine a bright and perfumed finish.

ABV = 14.0%.

£20.20
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