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Outstanding, 95-point South American Syrah - Oct 20

The October 2020 Decanter (www.decanter.com) - officially released on Friday 28th August - makes its usual, detailed, panel-based, blind-tasted analysis, this time of the Syrah grape in South America.

For other wines we stock in that Decanter (and there are many, perhaps a record for us), please see this page.

There are some truly super New World wines here. One might foresee unhinged FBBs (Fruit Bomb Blockbusters) made for pure immediacy and without structure: a cut-price take on big Australian Shiraz, if you will.

If that's your expectation - and unless that's really what you seek - be prepared for a very pleasant surprise. These are classy wines.

The headline: We offer two of the top four wines from the review: two, officially-Outstanding 95-pointers, one from each side of the Andes. One of these - we'd say the classier and certainly more structured of the two - is available only from us. We also offer another 5 contenders.

 

 

The pre-amble

Think of Syrah/Shiraz and (unless you're a specialist Latin American Syrah importer) you won't immediately think of South America (NB: for the whole Syrah vs Shiraz distinction, see this article we penned; it's a topic that comes up again later below). Chances are you'll plump first for the Northern Rhône and South Australia.

Put it the other way round: think of South America, and you don't typically think Syrah: you think Malbec in Argentina, Carmenere (and a host of international varieties) in Chile and Tannat in Uruguay.

But, to pinch a term from Decanter in this review, that's to miss South America's "Cinderella" grape (I might have used "underdog", but I prefer "Cinderella"). As they also state, "Syrah has huge potential in South America", (and now I paraphrase) offering resilence to extreme growing conditions, amazing perfume/aromas and an ability to be crafted into a dazzling array of styles (confirming how Syrah is a superb vehicle/vector of terroir).

Of course, South American Syrah - like all South American wines - has to overcome prejudice and some degree of stigma. Just like screwcaps, some die-hards will always regard it as "just not proper". Yet, as some of the top wines that emerge amply demonstrate, serious and classy wines can be crafted here, giving the Rhône's Cornases and St-Josephs a serious run for their money. After all, few now doubt the quality of top Argentinian Chardonnay or Malbec (eg the top Catena wines).

A run for their money? In fact, for quite a lot less money. There is some serious value out there for such fine wines; our two Outstandings average £17.

What explains South American Syrah coming up on the rails? I'd offer the following:

- increasing use of cool-climate locations (especially altitude) - if you want classy, structured Syrah, you need top sunlight, timely heat but, ultimately, a cooler climate than you might imagine. Go too hot, and you get flabby Syrah which lacks the crucial acidity and enticing spice (this being the struggle for Syrah in Languedoc and the reason for the increasing pursuit of higher sites). The Hawkes Bay/Gimblett Gravels story in NZ also bears this out. Originally targetted for Cab Sauv (and Bordeaux blends), it has emerged over time that only the warmest sites there yield fully ripe Cab Sauv because the region now emerges to be just a little cooler than its pioneers reckoned upon. All to the the benefit of... Syrah, with this region now turning out some very top Syrah (eg those of Trinity Hill and Craggy Range).

- vine age - if we know one thing from Barossa, McLaren Vale and many of the esteemed Northern Rhône appellations, it's that the very best Syrah and Shiraz invariably comes from low-yielding, old vines - sometimes in excess of 100 years of age. South America has started from scratch with Syrah, but the oldest vines are now just starting to grey a little. There is clearly thus better to come yet.

- craftsmanship - the steady increase from the 1990s onwards in investment, technology and (especially) expertise - much of it from Syrah-inspired France - is now feeding through to wines that that are the equal of their Old World counterparts. 

- differentiation - let's say you're a new producer in Malbec-saturated Mendoza. Do you want to join the Malbec bunfight? Or strike a pose in a field a little more off-piste? This, too, lies behind some of the top wines in this review.

Use of oak is also an interesting question. Such is its prevalence in the finer Syrahs of the Rhône and Shirazes of Barossa/McLaren Vale that you'd think it was mandatory for anything top-flight in South America. But this is not so. Some of the new winemaking technology arriving (eg concrete eggs) seeks to provide ageing/elevage that interferes less directly with the wine's flavours. Instead, it allows a greater, unfettered expression of the Syrah fruit and terroir (this is not to be confused with similar, euphemistic terms used in the marketing often used for £6/bottle Rioja jovens). With Syrah, given its lighter, fragrant and more nuanced character (cf, say, Malbec and Cab Sauv), such avoidance of oak (especially the powerful effects of new oak) in very top wines shows the appliance of intelligence over pure tradition. Again, we see this in the top wines of this Decanter review.

 

The review itself

We knew this review was coming. In fact, given the pandemic, we knew about this one a long time ago. And these reviews tend to go one way or the other: a total jamboree of high scores (eg Australian Riesling) or a Real Kicking (Gruner Veltliner). Much as I've/we've run into some amazing Syrahs from south of Caracas, I feared we might see this review slap down its subject(s).

Anything but. The judges were much wowed by what emerged. To quote two of the judges:

- "When South American Syrah is good, it’s certainly as good as Australia and New Zealand". (Alistair Cooper MW); and

- "A few wines right at the top could rival any wine from anywhere. But in the middle there were also a lot which were exuberant, rewarding, easy to drink – and very consistent." (Dirceu Vianna Junior MW).

The stats are:

  • 79 wines went under test...
  • ... being 56 from Chile, 18 from Argentina, 3 from Uruguay and 2 from Brazil.
  • There were 4 Outstandings (95+ points) with a highest score of 96.
  • The 4 Outstandings averaged £30 in cost (panic not: there is good news here: our two below are markedly less!)...
  • ... and came from all of Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Yes, Brazil.
  • 15 were Highly Recommended (90+ points) - we offer a few of these for diversity-hunters. 
  • The move towards less high-octane, full-throttle wines was a central theme of the review. Whilst all four chart-toppers are still fairly big wines, none are monsters/FBBs. As Peter Richards MW commented: "Today we saw a move towards a lighter touch, to people reining in the extraction and not thinking that Syrah has to be a powerful beast. It can be food-friendly, or it can be an unassuming wine".

I'd make the observation that the three MW judges here were (probably rightly) looking more for elegance and and structure then power/blockbuster appeal. Another three judges may have seen it differently. It's notable that a clutch of bigger, Shrirazzy players - ones that normally do well with Decanter, Atkin, Suckling, Jancis et al - eg the Caballo Loco Limari - scored only modestly here.

map courtesy of Decanter, www.decanter.com 

 

The Outstanding wines

Two of the top four are pricey options at £38 and £45 a bottle. The panel test makes clear that these are properly-super-duper. I'd certainly love to try a bottle of both.

The one 96-pointer is no longer being imported by its UK importer (unfortunate timing).

Invariably, we have to work out what the Exel customer will go for. Here, as a commercial proposition, we decided to eschew the pricey wines. It may just be a little early in the popularity development of South American Syrah to hope that many customers will pursue these wines when there are excellent, similar/equal-scoring alternatives at just 30-50% of the price. Maybe we're wrong. We'll listen to any appeals on this point, of course. 

Which means that these are our two below, pictured at a recent home-working taste test (when writing this, in fact). There's a lot to these wines, some of which is fleshed out below, but we've also recorded a video tasting of the two for a little more thought and insight (click link or the photo below).

The two are:

Emiliana, Salvaje Syrah (/Roussanne), Casablanca, Chile 2018

UPDATE - after a huge surge in sales on the release of Decanter, UK stocks are very low. We are out of stock at Exel. We may yet see a few more cases and await news of whether there is any more available in the UK or at the producer.

This is fascinating, this one, on many levels. It is certainly the more innovative and modern in approach. Allow me to resort to bullet points for (intended) brevity:

  • It's from Chile's Casablanca Valley. This is pretty unusual in itself. Although the warmer parts of this almost-coastal valley are used for red grapes (esp Merlot, increasingly Syrah), Casablanca is predominantly about white wine, particularly Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (and even then, in a 'cooler' style for those grapes). The coolness of this region stems from the proximity of the cold ocean currents of the nearby Pacific and the fogs that blanket the valley for periods of each day and year. The pursuit of acidity over fruit opulence is clear here.
  • It's organic, biodynamic and low-sulphite. There's more on the product page.
  • It's not (quite) 100% Syrah. A sneaky 3% of Roussanne (that classic white Rhône variety) is in there. Rhône (and esp Côte-Rôtie fans) will be aware of the co-fermentation of the Syrah there with Viognier (ie both grapes fermented as a blend, rather than fermented apart and blended downstream in the process). The co-ferment thinking in the Rhône goes back many years: it's partly to soften the tannic Syrah a fraction (accepted) and it has long been found/believed that co-fermentation with the white gives deeper/better colour to the wines. I'm of a strong view that this is more classic French tradition/shibboleth than fact/science as expounded here for those (including this ex-chemist) that like a scientific paper. That said, this is a great wine, as are the majority of the Côte-Rôties that use this method <am dismounting high horse now>.
  • No oak (at all) is used, only steel. (Fine wine buyers tend to flee when reading this. I too was pretty sceptical until I tried it. Let's bear in mind that £200/bottle Riesling sees no oak either, for the same reasons). The Salvaje does not want for it; the lack of oak definitely does not deliver a crunchy, unhinged or overly green/youthful wine. The idea to Let The Fruit Do The Talking here really works, and does not denigrate the end result.
  • That said, it's really quite 'black'. It has a major depth of colour (it's not the Roussanne, I tell you) and a powerful blackberry/cassis/Ribena(?) hit on/to the nose that you'd swear was Cab Sauv in any tasting exam you ever faced.
  • Even more weirdly, it has a very attractive/addictive aroma of sandalwood and cedar (last experienced in a Glenmorangie I tried) that you'd normally swear was about the use of new oak (but must, you'd have to conclude, be part of the inherent spice notes of the Syrah).
  • Although impressively structured for a 2018, and with quite some years yet ahead of it, this is the more immediate/crowd-pleasing of our duo.
  • Elsewhere, on tasting notes and praise, let me hand you over to the Decanter review which pulls no punches:

  • It's not just Decanter that like(d) this one. Of the previous vintage, Jancis's Purple Pages (www.JancisRobinson.com), when reviewed by their South American specialist, Ferran Centelles in August 2019, the verdict (on awarding the wine a high 17/20) was: "Very spicy, intense, with black fruit, deep and with plenty of character. Super-well worked with layers of tannin and fruit. Very good maturity and sweetness. It is a compact wine with a lot of flavour. I love the touch of herbal freshness that it has. Great feeling of violet flowers, very attractive. Lots of liveliness. Bravo!"
  • At £12.95, it's an absolute steal.

 

Finca Las Glicinas, Terciopelo Syrah, Paraje Altamira, Argentina, 2018

This is undoubtedly more 'classic' than the Salvaje, but no less delicious. What it lacks in absolute immediacy/hit value, it more than makes up for in complexity, 'smoothness' (a term we try not to use but which customers adore) and lasting appeal. Here's a bit more:

  • It's exclusive to us. We tried it and thought, "this, we have to have". So, we're making it so.
  • Much as we'd like to let you have it today, it's only just been released from the producer after barrel ageing and bottle hold (more below) ...  so it's not here yet. See "Availability" below.
  • It's from Paraje Altamira, a southern sub-zone of the San Carlos zone in the sub-region of the Uco Valley of the region of Mendoza in Argentina. Confused? I'm not surprised. This excellent presentation from Wines of Argentina makes it all make sense.
  • It's a single block/vineyard wine (rather than a cross-zonal blend).
  • Altitude is the key here. Whereas the Salvaje derived its (lesser) structure from cool ocean currents, the Terciopelo does so by being over 1000m above said ooean.
  • Structure, elegance and complexity are the story here (vs the Salvaje's more immediate gratification). The Decanter  team much stress that. Sometimes these terms are euphemistically banded about, rather betraying a thin-ness to a wine and suggesting some form of compensation for its lack of punch. Compared only against the Salvaje, that could tenuously be argued, but it would be easy to read too much into this. This is still a big New World Syrah with plenty of potency. It may not punch you on the nose as hard as the Salvaje, but it scraps harder overall.
  • It smells wonderful. The Salvaje has black and spicy aromas. The Terciopelo is redder in nature (although still full of plums and ripe richness), more floral and more fragrant generally.
  • Terciopelo is Spanish for 'velvet'. The wine is well named. It has a very alluring softness/smoothness and balance to it. Despite being a mere 2018, it has the softness of a (good) Rioja Reserva (compared with a more Crianza-y approach in the Salvaje). Of the two, it is more suited to better meals and food, where it will be more in balance.
  • That softness, one would attribute to its 18 months in old/used, French and USA oak barrels. And then another 8 months in bottle before release. That's why it's only just leaving Paraje Altamira now!
  • (not entirely relevant note in a Steve Backshall kinda-way: the terciopelo is also a particularly venomous and grumpy snake in Central America - I had an anxious altercation with one when studying in Costa Rica). 
  • Again, I leave you with the Decanter praise. Make me choose between this and the Salvaje and I choose this, the Terciopelo. Although reflected in the £21.50 price tag (it would be £25+ if coming via the usual intermediary!), it's the better wine.

 

Availability (of these two)

Now listen carefully. The clamour to buy panel-toppers oftens sees things missed.

The Salvaje is here next week and we have good stocks. You can buy that and take it away in a few days. Simple enough.

But, as above, the Terciopelo is not here. It only hit the Pacific this week (it's coming via Chile and the Panama Canal). It will be here in mid-late October (in good amount). And, with these "deep water imports", there is always the possibility of a hold-up on the high seas (storms, canal waits, not <we hope> pirates) and customs delays when it arrives into the UK. If we've already taken customer money, such delays (after a long wait already) rankle a bit. We can't change the origin, routing, or timing uncertainty of the Terciopelo ... but we can decline taking any funds until it's cleared customs.

And we do want to put it on offer now: customers will be curious and invariably want to secure it when they read of it. 

To this end, we are deploying our usual waiting list aproach. That is, send us an email to/at communications@exelwines.co.uk, telling us how much you require. We will duly reserve some for you when it arrives. A few days before it does, we'll be in touch, asking you to go on-line and buy it and we can then arrange delivery.

IMPORTANT:

  • If seeking to buy other wines from us, do please keep the Terciopelo apart from them in ordering. That is:
  • Please buy those other items online as one action.
  • Send us an email re the Terciopelo as another.
  • Please don't email your overall order: since online sales are immediate and emails over a weekend are not, there is a good chance low-stock items will have been depleted by the time the email can be acted upon.
  • If you want to make other ordered wines wait for the Terciopelo's arrival for carriage reasons, we can hold them for you (although it is not preferred).
  • However, please note that a late arrival of the Terciopelo does not see the other wines sent to you separately to offset the delay. At the prices we offer, we can't do this any other way. A 'delayed free postage' option would means we'd have to charge ~£2/btl more for the wine!

 

That's not quite all...

We've other rated wines from this panel. They may score less well, but the great diversity of Syrah styles available makes a tour of other wines highly interesting, especially if you are a blockbuster fan. Below, you'll find more details of (all Chilean):

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Finca Las Glicinas, Terciopelo Syrah 2018 (1x75cl)

** ARRIVAL & AVAILABILITY **

 

The Terciopelo is not yet here given its release from the cellars in Argentina only very recently.

 

21 Sep - It has just passed through the Panama Canal. It will be here in mid-October (in good amount). With these "deep water imports", there is always the possibility of a hold-up on the high seas (storms, canal waits, not pirates) and customs delays when it arrives into the UK. If we've already taken customer money, such delays (after a long wait already) rankle a bit. We can't change the origin, routing, or timing uncertainty of the Terciopelo ... but we can decline taking any funds until it's cleared customs. And we do want to put it on offer now: customers will be curious and invariably want to secure it when they read of it. 

 

To this end, we are deploying our usual waiting list approach. That is, send us an email to/at communications@exelwines.co.uk, telling us how much you require. We will duly reserve some for you when it arrives. A few days before it does, we'll be in touch, asking you to go on-line and buy it and we can then arrange delivery.

 

IMPORTANT:

 

- If seeking to buy other wines from us, do please keep the Terciopelo apart from them in ordering. That is:

 

- Please buy those other items online as one action. Send us an email re the Terciopelo as another.

 

- Please don't email your overall order: since online sales are immediate and emails over a weekend are not, there is a good chance low-stock items will have been depleted by the time the email can be acted upon

 

- If you want to make other ordered wines wait for the Terciopelo's arrival for carriage reasons, we can hold them for you (although it is not preferred).

 

- However, please note that a late arrival of the Terciopelo does not see the other wines sent to you separately to offset the delay. At the prices we offer, we can't do this any other way. A 'delayed free postage' option would means we'd have to charge ~£2/btl more for the wine!

 

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their October 2020 panel tasting of South American Syrah (see blue link below).

 

Finca Las Glicinas, Terciopelo Syrah 2018 - October 2020 Decanter review

  

See also our video tasting of this wine and our other Outstanding from this review.

 

Finca Las Glicinas (FLG) is a family business dedicated to growing quality grapes to produce premium wines, and to producing wines with selected vines from our own terroir. Our vineyards are located in Alto Valle de Uco, more specifically in the region of Paraje Altamira, La Consulta, in the Department of San Carlos, in the Province of Mendoza. Their signature wines include Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and some complex blends which have a distinct identity, typical of the estates of Paraje Altamira.

The family adventure of Finca Las Glicinas began in 2003 when, fascinated by the beauty of the landscape, they decided to acquire a Malbec vineyard, which had been planted in the year 1999 in the heart of Paraje Altamira. They were inspired and guided by an old family winemaking tradition, which started many generations ago in the Piemonte region of Italy.

The premium Terciopelo line of FLG's red wines are principally characterized by their complexity. With these wines, the scrupulous selection from the vines in the vineyard is followed by the meticulous processing of the wines at the winery. These are mineral wines. Their fruity and floral notes, harmoniously combined with the wood/oak in which they are aged, gives them a classical elegance. An enforced bottle storage before release adds to that quality. Currently available in the Terciopelo line are this Syrah plus a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and a delicious and complex red blend.

For this wine, the Terciopelo Syrah 2018, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Finca Las Glicinas, Terciopelo Syrah 2018 - fiche technique

Syrah 100%.

Visually, intense purplish-red with bright flashes. On the nose, Tercioplelo Syrah 2018 presents a complex array of aromas of both red and black berry fruits. The spices, typical of Syrah, are melded with notes of tobacco and cocoa from the oak. On the palate, freshness particularly stands out, with excellent acidity and a full, rounded mouthfeel. This is a wine of great structure and complexity, whose subtle mineral notes distinctly express its origin in the terroir of Paraje Altamira.

ABV = 14.6%.

** PLEASE SEE AVAILABILITY SECTION ABOVE! **

£21.50

Vina Echeverria Gran Reserva Syrah 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their October 2020 panel tasting of South American Syrah (see blue link below).

 Vina Echeverria Gran Reserva Syrah 2015 - October 2020 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 an extensive collection of quality wines. The 'No es Pituko' range represents a radical departure from the rest of the more traditional Echeverría wines, both in look and make-up, being vinified naturally, without any additions at any stage. Viña Echeverría has recently been awarded its Sustainable Winery status by Wines of Chile, as well as its ISO9000 certification.

The grapes come from the Aconcagua Valley, located 40 miles north of Santiago, which is a small wine region famous for producing some of Chile’s greatest red wines. The vineyard sits at 243 metres above sea level, with clay and sandy soils to the east; granite and clay to the west. With cold nights and warm dry days, intense sunlight and a long growing season, it is ideally suited to produce healthy vines and grapes. Daily breezes moderate the otherwise high temperatures found in the Aconcagua Valley and reduce the risk of vine disease. The Antarctic Humboldt current, which flows up the west coast of Chile, helps to maintain this effect. The Syrah vines are from ungrafted selected clones of pre-phylloxera French rootstocks producing grapes of optimum quality and flavour.

The season was marked by a spring without frosts, resulting in a good flowering and fruit setting of the varieties. Higher temperatures during December and February favoured a rapid accumulation of sugar and acidity loss; therefore the vineyards were given an adequate water regime to control the ripening process. Reds ripened slowly as the temperatures returned to normal during March and April . The harvest took place one week earlier than usual and resulted in wines of high quality, with intense fine tannins and high aromatic potential.

The grapes were fermented to dryness in 12,000- and 15,000-litre open stainless steel tanks over a period of eight days. Selected yeasts were used and the temperatures were maintained between 24 to 28°C. Once fermentation was complete, an extended skin maceration took place for an additional 10 days. The wine then went through 100% malolactic fermentation, before being matured in 225-litre French oak barrels, for 12 months.

Syrah 100%. 

A highly aromatic Syrah, as blackberry, blueberry and raspberry characters are presented in this wine of great personality. Hints of bitter chocolate combine seamlessly with notes of black pepper, cinnamon and tobacco on the palate. Well balanced, with a juicy and long lasting finish.

ABV = 14.5%.

£10.95

Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Syrah 2017 (1x75cl)

** THIS WINE IS HELD IN NO OR LOW STOCK (SEE AMOUNT HELD BELOW) BUT MORE IS QUICKLY BROUGHT IN TO ORDER. ORDERS PLACED BY 9am EACH MONDAY WILL BE WITH US FOR DESPATCH ON THE THURSDAY. **

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their October 2020 panel tasting of South American Syrah (see blue link below).

Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Syrah 2017 - October 2020 Decanter review

The Errazuriz Estate was founded in 1870 when Don Maximiano Errazuriz planted his first vineyards at Panquehue in the Aconcagua Valley - 100 km north of the Chilean capital. Recognising that this valley, with its cool, rainy winters, hot, dry summers and moist Pacific Ocean breezes, was ideal for growing grapes, Don Maximiano sent for the finest clones from France and with tenacity and perseverance transformed this barren land into a world class vineyard.

Today, the tradition of quality lives on with Don Maximiano's descendant, Eduardo Chadwick. Eduardo is the fifth generation of his family to be involved in the wine business. Eduardo has overseen the modernisation of the winemaking technology at this historic Estate whilst maintaining a distinct identity for its wines. Dedicated to producing estate grown wines of superior quality, Errazuriz has built a reputation as the 'Premier Family Wine Estate of Chile'.

Errazuriz's philosophy is best expressed by Don Maximiano who said, "from the best land, the best wine." Vina Errazuriz believe in the concept of terroir and strive to produce the finest wines by controlling every stage of the winemaking process, from grape growing in the Aconcagua and Casablanca valleys, to winemaking with the most natural techniques. An emphasis is placed on the delicate handling of the wines, with the aim of producing wines with elegance and complexity.

The Errazuriz Winery was established in 1870 when the founder Don Maximiano Errazuriz first brought vines to the area. The beautiful original 1870 building still stands with the spectacular underground cellars still being used. Two brand new winery buildings were completed in 2010; one for Max Reserva wines and one for thef lagship wines. The Don Maximiano Icon Winery is an architecturally stunning masterpiece with oak fermenters and environmentally friendly ground-source heating/cooling. Sitting alongside the original 1870 building, these new developments show the importance of respecting our heritage whilst having a clear vision for the future. Both were showcased by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson in the 7th Edition of The World Atlas of Wine as benchmark examples of a state-of-the-art modern winery. In October 2017, Errazuriz became Chile’s first recipient of the Robert Parker Wine Advocate Extraordinary Winery Award for Best Chilean Winery 2017.

The grapes for the Aconcagua Costa Syrah are sourced from the Aconcagua Costa vineyard, located 12 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. Planted by Viña Errázuriz in 2005 and 2009, the soil is composed by a thin layer of loamy texture and placed on a base of clay and metamorphic rock (slate/schist), providing the mineral notes present in the wines that are grown in these vineyards.

After a winter of historical records in terms of temperatures and rainfall, temperate and dry conditions followed during the months of August and September. As spring and summer unfolded, we experienced dry conditions, as well as constantly warm temperatures, especially during November and January, which created ideal circumstances for optimal flowering, fruit set and veraison, in addition to a harvest in excellent sanitary conditions. March brought relief to the usually warm summer temperatures, allowing the grapes to continue a gentle ripeness process, preserving their acidity and freshness.

Grapes were hand-picked between March 11th and March 28th, and carefully transported to the winery in small boxes of 15 kilos approximately, to avoid damaging the grapes. Once there, they were carefully inspected, crushed and deposited in stainless steel tanks, where they went under alcoholic fermentation with native yeasts. The total maceration time (in contact with the skins) was between 8 to 20 days; 10% whole clusters. During 14 months, 10% of the wine was aged in new French oak barrels, while 75% was aged in French oak barrels of second and third use. The remaning 15% was aged in foudres.

See also the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Syrah 2017 - fiche technique

100% Syrah. 

The 2017 vintage of Aconcagua Costa Syrah displays a bright, intense, deep ruby red color with violet hues. The nose reveals pink pepper, blueberries, fresh raspberries, with hints of dill and incense, while the palate has soft hints of incense and a spicy profile, framed by notes of fresh black fruit. A wine with soft and elegant tannins, whose entrance stands out with a refreshing acidity, showing nerve and juiciness. A linear and deep wine with very fine grained tannins.

ABV = 13.5%. 

£15.60

Errazuriz Max Reserva Syrah (Shiraz) 2016 (1x75cl)

** THIS WINE IS HELD IN NO OR LOW STOCK (SEE AMOUNT HELD BELOW) BUT MORE IS QUICKLY BROUGHT IN TO ORDER. ORDERS PLACED BY 9am EACH MONDAY WILL BE WITH US FOR DESPATCH ON THE THURSDAY. **

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their October 2020 panel tasting of South American Syrah (see blue link below).

Errazuriz Max Reserva Syrah 2016 - October 2020 Decanter review

The Errazuriz Estate was founded in 1870 when Don Maximiano Errazuriz planted his first vineyards at Panquehue in the Aconcagua Valley - 100 km north of the Chilean capital. Recognising that this valley, with its cool, rainy winters, hot, dry summers and moist Pacific Ocean breezes, was ideal for growing grapes, Don Maximiano sent for the finest clones from France and with tenacity and perseverance transformed this barren land into a world class vineyard.

Today, the tradition of quality lives on with Don Maximiano's descendant, Eduardo Chadwick. Eduardo is the fifth generation of his family to be involved in the wine business. Eduardo has overseen the modernisation of the winemaking technology at this historic Estate whilst maintaining a distinct identity for its wines. Dedicated to producing estate grown wines of superior quality, Errazuriz has built a reputation as the 'Premier Family Wine Estate of Chile'.

Errazuriz's philosophy is best expressed by Don Maximiano who said, "from the best land, the best wine." Vina Errazuriz believe in the concept of terroir and strive to produce the finest wines by controlling every stage of the winemaking process, from grape growing in the Aconcagua and Casablanca valleys, to winemaking with the most natural techniques. An emphasis is placed on the delicate handling of the wines, with the aim of producing wines with elegance and complexity.

The Errazuriz Winery was established in 1870 when the founder Don Maximiano Errazuriz first brought vines to the area. The beautiful original 1870 building still stands with the spectacular underground cellars still being used. Two brand new winery buildings were completed in 2010; one for Max Reserva wines and one for thef lagship wines. The Don Maximiano Icon Winery is an architecturally stunning masterpiece with oak fermenters and environmentally friendly ground-source heating/cooling. Sitting alongside the original 1870 building, these new developments show the importance of respecting our heritage whilst having a clear vision for the future. Both were showcased by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson in the 7th Edition of The World Atlas of Wine as benchmark examples of a state-of-the-art modern winery. In October 2017, Errazuriz became Chile’s first recipient of the Robert Parker Wine Advocate Extraordinary Winery Award for Best Chilean Winery 2017.

The grapes for Max Shiraz primarily come from Max vineyards in the Aconcagua Valley. Located in the interior of the valley, the vineyard soils have a predominantly silty texture and are of colluvial origin. The special conditions of nutrition and drainage of the diverse soils help control plant vigor, producing balanced fruit loads with small bunches and berries.

The challenging vintage of 2016 performed different scenarios through the season, with a cool spring and a warmer than average summer. A rainy and cool October was followed by pleasant spring days in November, promoting a healthy flowering and fruit set. At the beginning of the summer temperatures gradually increased, reaching during January temperatures higher than the historical averages. February was warm, with oncoming sunny weather interspersed with cool morning fog, prevailing through to the end of the growing season. All of this conditions delivered wines of outstanding vivacity and character.

The grapes were handpicked early in the morning and inspectedon a double selection table, crushed, and desposited into stainless steel tanks for fermentation. Maceration period ranged from 12 to 25 days. The wine was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, 25% of which were new.

See also the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Errazuriz Max Reserva Syrah 2016 - fiche technique

100% Syrah. 

Beautiful and bright ruby red with violet highlights. The wine shows aromas of red fruits such as raspberries, cherries accompanied by notes that remind of blueberry tart, along with a hint of tobacco and black pepper. In the palate it feels fresh and juicy, with a medium to long persistence, fine tannins and a pleasant sensation that surrounds the palate.

ABV = 13.5%. 

£12.35

Montes Outer Limits Zapallar Syrah 2017 (1x75cl)

** THIS WINE IS HELD IN NO OR LOW STOCK (SEE AMOUNT HELD BELOW) BUT MORE IS QUICKLY BROUGHT IN TO ORDER. ORDERS PLACED BY 9am EACH MONDAY WILL BE WITH US FOR DESPATCH ON THE THURSDAY. **

Awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter in their October 2020 panel tasting of South American Syrah (see blue link below).

Montes Outer Limits Zapallar Syrah 2017 - October 2020 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.

The Zapallar vineyards are truly coastal, being just 7 kilometres away from the Pacific Ocean, an ideal location for the growth and development of varieties such as Syrah. Montes’ 45 hectares are the only vineyards planted in this area, situated at an altitude of 120 – 150 meters above sea level. The clay-loam, granitic soil provides moderate drainage and gives rise to intense, aromatic wines, exceptionally balanced with body, flavour, and ripe tannins. Zapallar is without doubt an “Outer Limits” terroir, with an extreme climate for winegrowing which has put Montes’ winemaking abilities to the test.

The 2017 vintage was characterised by favourable weather conditions – little rainfall and plenty of sunshine. This meant grapes needed little viticultural intervention to help ripen evenly and without risk of disease. Good weather continued well into the growing season and as harvest approached, temperatures dropped slowly, allowing fruit to retain acidity and develop aromatic complexity. This vintage has delivered fruit of exceptional quality, displaying a level of balanced ripeness not seen in recent vintages.

The grapes were hand-picked early in the morning to preserve freshness and fruit purity. They were then hand sorted at the winery before undergoing a temperature-controlled five day cold maceration at 6-8°C on the skins to extract colour and aroma. The must was then slowly brought up to 26-28°C and inoculated with specially selected yeasts. Fermentation followed taking 10 days to complete. The wine then remained on its skins for a further five days to ensure good colour and tannin extraction. 65% of the wine was then racked off into a concrete egg, which allows continuous contact with the lees. The other 35% was racked off to second-use French oak barrels and aged for 12 months. After ageing, these two portions were blended together and lightly filtered to retain the full character of the wine.

100% Syrah.

This wine is deep ruby red in colour with violet tones. The fruity nose recalls ripe black and red berries with notes of smoke, Serrano ham and coffee. The palate is vibrant and well balanced with very smooth tannins and remarkable structure and volume.

ABV = 14.5%.

£20.15

Caballo Loco Grand Cru Limari 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded a high 17 points (of 20) on Jancis Robinson's Purple Pages (www.JancisRobinson.comreviewer Alistair Cooper MW - in Feb 2020 (see blue link below).

Caballo Loco Grand Cru Limari 2015 - jancisrobinson.com May 2020 review

Awarded 86 points and Recommended status by Decanter in their October 2020 panel tasting of South American Syrah (see blue link below).

Caballo Loco Grand Cru Limari 2015 - October 2020 Decanter review

The Caballo Loco Grands Crus were created by Valdivieso to show the different wines that are fundamental components of the icon Caballo Loco wine. For this reason, specific wines from specific valleys wine were born, where each strain/blend reflects the maximum expression of that valley.

One can arguably see these wines as understudies for the "true" Caballo Loco, but they are more than that, being quite superb - and full-throttle - wines in their own right, made with all the care, attention and know-how of the NV/"solera" version.

This Grand Cru Apalta represents all the fruit power and smoothness of the Limari Valley, showcasing the excellent Syrah (100% here) of this region.

For full details, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Caballo Loco Grand Cru Limari 2015 - fiche technique

A big, full-bodied wine with delicious aromas and flavours of ripe red cherries, coffee and dark chocolate. It has a luxurious texture and a lingering finish.

ABV = 15.0%.

£24.15
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