Family-owned brand sees much success in just 17 years.
THE family-owned Luis Felipe Edwards started off in the business of wines as a grower of grapes, not a producer of wines.
In 1994, Luis Felipe built a winery to fulfil his vision of producing wines, as Chilean wines had become increasingly popular around the world.
The first of the wines to be released were the Cabernet and Chardonnay varieties in 1995 and by 2010, the winery had exported 1.6 million cases to 51 countries and 2.3 million cases to 60 countries in 2011.
“In just 17 years, we have gone from an unknown producer of wines to become the fourth biggest producer of Chilean wines,” said the company’s Asia, Pacific and Middle East director Nick Tullet at a wine dinner at Mandarin Grill, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur featuring savoury seafood creations by 2008 Bocuse d’Or Europe winner chef Geir Skeie, alongside Luis Felipe Edwards’ wines.
The Norwegian chef Skeie manages two restaurants called Brygga 11 in Sandefjord and Leirvik in Norway.
Tullet said in terms of volume, the label was currently the largest Chilean wines available in Malaysia with established markets in Penang, Johor Baru and Kota Kinabalu.
To start off dinner, we savoured the Luis Felipe Edwards Marea De Leyda, Sauvignon Blanc 2012, a young drink with fresh fruit flavours on the palate.
Its rich and intense aromas, and citrus and grassy notes set off a nice balance with chef Skeie’s presentation of Shellfish Cocktail with Avocado Cream and Tomato Boullion.
Tullet said the Marea range, notably the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah were grown in the Leyda Valley – a coastal region that was suitable for these varieties because of the cool climate.
Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir varieties are predominantly grown here, with smaller plots of Chardonnay and Syrah.
The Maipo river which flows through the valley brings large volumes of snow-melt water for irrigation.
The area’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean and influence of granite soils clay and quartz on the surface, allows for the concentrated fruit and minerality flavours in the wines.
For our second course, we indulged in the delicate taste of Dill and Lemon Flavoured Norwegian Ocean Trout 39 Degrees, Smoked Egg Cream and Pickled Vegetables.
With the obvious herbal and fresh salmon flavours, we appreciated the charm of the Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Family Selection, Chardonnay 2012.
Aged in oak barrels, this complex yet elegant white, offers the flavours of citrics, pineapple, honey, nuts and almonds.
Its grapes are grown in the Casablanca Valley, another coastal area, 18km from the sea, known for its cool conditions and frequent fogs.
The valley is also significantly cooler than valleys of similar latitude.
The Luis Felipe Edwards Reserva, Carmenere 2011 from the Reserva range is aged in oak for a minimum of eight months to show off an intense garnet red with fresh fruit and oak notes, with high complexity and excellent mouth structure.
This full-bodied wine with balanced acidity and round, supple tannins was chef Skeie’s choice for the Fennel and Orange Infused Shrimp Soup, Shrimp and Fennel Salad.
The tasty and plumpness of scallops in the Grilled Diver Scallops with Celery Variation, Tomato and Tarragon witnessed chef Skeie using simple techniques and aromatics to tantalise the palate.
The lightness of the Luis Felipe Edwards Marea De Leyda, Pinot Noir 2010 from the Leyda Valley danced along nicely with the dish, to exhibit gentle fruit flavours and soft ripe tannins.
Our seafood adventure continued with the main course of Tarragon Baked Norwegian Salmon, Olive and Mussel Boullion/Summer Vegetables that was paired with Luis Felipe Edwards Dona Bernarda, 2009.
This particular range holds a special place in the winery’s history as it honours Luis Felipe Edwards’ wife Bernardita.
Using only the highest quality Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with Carmenere, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Petite Syrah, and Mouvedre from the estate’s vineyards in the Colchagua hills, the Dona Bernarda pays tribute to mothers, wives and women as a symbol of family life, stability, beauty and respect.
Recognised as the first icon wine released by Luis Felipe Edwards in honour of Bernardita, the grapes are sourced from the best vineyard blocks, hand picked and gently crushed and fermented in small batches.
The Dona Bernarda is aged for 18 months in new French oak to exude flavours of deep plums, black cheery and violets, with a lingering softness on the palate, long length and complexity in the finish.
Chef Skeie’s Norwegian Apple Cake with Hazelnuts, Baked Apples and Cinnamon Ice Cream was a pleasing finish to dinner as we relished the Luis Felipe Edwards Reserva Late Harvest 2010 from the Colchagua Valley.
Made from selected fully ripened Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, the wine reveals a smooth honey undertone and obvious oak flavours as this golden coloured drink is aged in French oak barrels for four months.
The wines are distributed by Milawa (M) Sdn Bhd. For details, call 03-6258 8262 or visit www.milawa.com