At a lunch with members of MOVI (Movimiento de Viñateros Independientes) in Santiago in early 2014, I tasted a representative wine from each member winery in the consortium of independent vintners. It was a stunning lineup, with each wine showcasing considerable expertise and offering wonderful flavors. And more to the point of MOVI and its mission, each wine had great personality and offered a unique insight into one of the most exciting wine groups I've met anywhere.
MOVI isn't the whole story of wine in Chile, but it is a wonderful chapter in that story, and may even be composing a sequel that points to Chile's future as a dynamic player on the world's wine stage. For the story of MOVI's founding and goals, please see the blog post on the group.
I've grouped the wines here in the order they were poured by the vintners from MOVI, and used the groupings described by founder Sven Bruchfeld in the blog post. Because location is a key to MOVI's organization of categories, I've included the region of origin in parentheses with each wine name, and the winery names are also linked to the individual winery's website. These websites are a treasure-trove of information and insight and in some cases, as with Garcia + Schwaderer, the site itself is nearly as much a work of art as the wines they make.
Group I: The New Chile
Garcia + Schwaderer Marina 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca)
Beautiful pale white gold color with glints of green. Dry and flinty on the nose with very balanced fruit and minerality. It's a bit sneaky in how it creeps up on the palate, maintaining that fruit and mineral balance - this is a complete package and the best sauvignon blanc I've had from Chile - I love it.
Kingston Alazan 2011 Pinot Noir, (Casablanca)
Very varietal pinot noir character with textbook notes of cherry, dried orange peel, a hint of grilled herbs. There is a very pleasing elegance here - dry, good aroma, long palate, lots of subtle power. This is wonderful and it grows on you as you sip it - I could drink this all day!
Villard Estate Gran Vin 2011 Pinot Noir (Casablanca)
Inspired by the success of pinot noir in Carneros (a cool growing region that spans both Napa and Sonoma in California), in 1989 Thierry Villard and his family were the first to plant pinot noir in cool-climate Casablanca.
This is a bit funky on the nose with a wild character that won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I find it immensely appealing and very Burgundian in inspiration. The wild, herbal character is nicely set off by very sweet fruit and a rock solid foundation of ripe tannins with a surprisingly chewy texture. It has a long finish to round out a very lovely, exciting pinot noir.
(Jean-Charles "Charlie" Villard says this is aged completely in French oak, but only 20% of it is new)
Attilio and Mochi Tunquen 2011 Malbec (Casablanca)
Floral aromas, medium color (what a surprise for those accustomed to Argentine malbec!), chewy and dense, but still elegant on the palate. What an enticing wine - forget what you expect malbec to be and just kick back and enjoy this gorgeous medium weight wine. This will pair with all sorts of meats, from tuna to grilled chicken.
Trabun 2011 Syrah (Cachapoal Valley)
In this wine we can taste the Andes' influence on the cool climate of Cachapoal
Deep brilliant purple, this is a beautiful syrah, juicy on the palate and very elegant. Trabun favors restrain over the sort of raw syrah power we get warmer areas like Australia.
Soave and fruity with a lovely, long finish
Starry Night 2011 Syrah (Maipo)
This wine has a lovely garnet color with great grip on the palate and very deep and pure flavors. There is a lot of very dark fruit here with violet notes in the background and carrying through on the long finish.
Polkura Block G+I Syrah 2010, (Marchigue, Colchagua Valley)
Sven Bruchfeld's wine has a brilliant magenta color with a deep purple core. The bouquet is so forward and vibrant it practically quivers in the glass, but on the palate, the wine is all coy, silky restraint. This is subtle and beautifully round and balanced on the palate, with a silky texture and and long finish. This is one of those wines that teases - I'd say it's a wine for contemplation, but I confess it's so delicious, I can't keep it in the glass long enough for contemplation.
Group II: The Classics - Reloaded
Rukumilla 2009 Red Blend (Maipo)
Appealing black cherry color, with complex aromas of tart, crunchy fruit. On the palate, the black cherry and red fruit notes are clear and pure, backed up with earthy forest floor flavors. This is a wonderfully impressive wine, really lovely as it gathers its subtle power on a long finish.
Clos Andino Grande Réserve Carménère (Peumo, Cachapoal)
Medium weight and broad fruit flavors. Hints of leather, blueberry and crunchy red fruit. Lovely balance of acidity, fruit and minerality. Very elegant with a wide, medium weight fruit impression on the palate. Very good.
Peumayen Gran Reserva 2010 Syrah (Panquehue, Aconcagua)
Nice earthy nose with hint of barnyard complexity. Sweet fruit, mint and underbrush, like garrigue in the Rhône. A lighter style of syrah, and welcome for it - the complexity is still present with a degree of elegance lacking in syrah made in a heavier style. Very deft, engañar!
Flaherty 2012 Red Blend (Aconcagua)
This blend of tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon and syrah is surprisingly soft on the palate, even delicate and lacking a bit of focus. Lovely flavors but pales against the wines that came earlier. On its own I think it could be beguiling. On second tasting it shows very sweet fruit, perhaps a bit too sweet - just lacking in balance.
Viña Von Siebenthal 2007 Toknar (Aconcagua)
This is a stunning wine. Who knew a 100% petite verdot could have this level of complexity?
Cedar and complex herbal aromas on the nose, and in the mouth wonderful structure.
The ripe tannins are firm but not hard and the flavors spread across the palate with subtle fruit and earthiness. The most surprising thing is the elegant balance - the wine is very present on the palate but for all that impression it remains medium weight, very agile, almost subtle. This makes a compelling case for petite verdot - quite amazing
Laguardia de Bezana 2010 Aluvion Gran Reserva Red Blend (Alto Cachapoal)
The blend is primarily cabernet sauvignon and syrah with a bit of carménère. Seventy percent of the wine is aged in one and two-year-old barrels for 18 months.
Pretty crimson color. A bit lactic on the nose, holding the fruit back a bit, but on the palate it is silky and elegant with good length on the finish. Not my favorite but respectable, and this certainly lives up to the MOVI mission of making wines that are distinctive and have personality
Group III: Old is the New "New" in Maule and Atacama
Gillmore Hacedor de Mundos 2009 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon (Maule Valley)
This is juicy and beautiful, and something of a surprise. It's not the most varietally typical cabernet, but it is wonderfully appealing. Lighter in color than the standard cab, and a bit hot on the finish but it is beguiling with its fruity sweetness. The overall impression is of freshness and elegance - this is lovely. I'd have a second glass in a heartbeat.
Meli 2012 Carignan (Maule Valley)
This property is owned by Adriana Cerda, a very respected elder stateswoman of the wine industry in Chile and, clearly from this wine, she continues to be a pioneer.
The first impression is of softness, then it becomes more complex with a bit of smoke on the nose and tartness on the palate. It has great length with a crunchy fresh fruit impression continuing on the long close with graphite and black fruit, even a bit of tar. This is a very well made and unusual wine.
Garage Wine Company 2012 Lot #39 Carignan (Maule Valley)
Bright crimson color with elegant, soft aromas of red fruit. The fruit impression is persistent, continuing on the palate and the long finish. Very nice
Reserva de Caliboro Erasmo 2010 Red Blend (Maule Valley)
This dry-farmed blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot is a compact wine that offers a first impression of soft fruit then slowly shows its considerable focus and intensity. The medium weight belies the wines tightly wound core - it needs time to show the depth it is only now starting to reveal. Very nice.
Armidita Pajarete 2012 Moscatel (Atacama Valley)
After the last four wines from the south of Chile, the final glass takes us to the far north and a desert region primarily famous for its Pisco This wine uses grapes most often associated with Pisco in Chile as well, giving surprising aromas and flavors that are a riff on what we think we know about moscato from other countries. Luscious without being cloying, this is a marvelously satisfying dessert wine.
Obtaining The Wines
Finding these wines outside of Chile is an ever-changing effort. Your best bet is to check with the individual websites for importer information. Polkura is blazing a new trail by offering direct online sales of its wines in the U.S. in addition to working through regular export and retail channels. If there is suitable interest, perhaps others will follow. These wines certainly deserve that interest.