THE flavours before me were Chilean and somewhat familiar so I turned to VCT Group of Wineries Asia commercial executive (group subsidiaries) Paul Gerken for an insight into the Maycas Del Limari and Canepa labels.
What he said, raised an eyebrow as I had come across the recognisable touch of Concha y Toro, the established South American winery with a pronounced presence in some 130 countries worldwide.
The thing is, a different marketing strategy had been adopted for the Maycas Del Limari and Canepa, elegant boutique wines deemed for a niche clientele.
“Let’s keep the Maycas Del Limari and Canepa wines separate from the range of Concha y Toro wines as they cater to a different market,” said Gerken.
So, unlike Concha y Toro’s numerous labels, the Maycas Del Limari and Canepa wines, I gathered were snobs of the extended family.
Concha y Toro’s enigmatic winemaker Marcelo Papa’s effort and confidence in Chile’s Limari Valley brought about the birth of the Maycas Del Limari
In 2003, Papa and director of viticulture Jose Guilsasti bought syrah and chardonnay grapes from the valley for vinification as Winemaker’s Lot wines. Four years down the road, the valley’s climate and limestone-rich soil lent the Maycas Del Limari vintage its welcome difference in the world of wines.
“The Limari Valley was an under developed region but Papa discovered the speciality of the region as the vines grew near cacti and in a semi-desert area where outside the valley the temperature was 35°C and within it was 25°C.
“And the nature of the soil offered minerality to the grapes resulting in their distinct appeal,” Gerken elaborated.
The Canepa winery, on the other hand was an independant winery with a history dating back to 1930 when the first bottling plant was established in Valparaiso.
In 2007, Canepa signed a strategic alliance with Concha y Toro to strengthen its image and improve its distribution network.
With the Straits Wine Company hosting the wine tasting at Porto Romano in Mont Kiara recently, we indulged in the refined flavours of the entry level Canepa Classico Chardonnay 2009 from the Central Valley.
This easy-to-drink medium bodied white with sweet, fruit forward flavours was aged in stainless steel vats offering delicate acidity unlike the oakiness of Canepa Reserva Chardonnay 2008, aged for six months in French oak.
While both whites were made to excite the palate, I had my sights on the strengths of Maipo Valley Canepa, Reserva Chardonnay’s delightful and fruity accents, not to mention subtle notes of vanilla and toast from the French oak.
Now, sauvignon blanc is a personal favourite so it was not difficult to savour the delicate appeal of the Maycas Del Limari Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2007 and Canepa Finisimo Sauvignon Blanc 2008 while snacking on canapes.
The Maycas white is a lovely bodied, drinkable wine from the cooler climate Limari Valley while the latter, from the warmer Casablanca Valley showcased balanced acidity and a nice fruity finish.
But the whites were not to dominate the night as we anticipated the reds to assault our senses further when bottles of Canepa Classico Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from the Central Valley, Canepa Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Maipo Valley), Maycas Del Limari Reserva Syrah Tinto 2007 (Limari Valley) and Canepa Finisimo Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Colchagua Valley) were brought out.
Deep ruby red with harmonious tannins, the Canepa Classico Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is a medium bodied red with a pleasing finish while the ripe tannins of the Canepa Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 were obvious on the palate.
The Maycas Del Limari Reserva Syrah Tinto 2007 is another brilliant red, aged in oak for eight months to reveal a peppery edge.
Gerken identified the Limari Valley syrah as being not as spicy as the Australian syrah and notably lighter than the Canepa Finisimo Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, an enjoyable red with spicy, blackberry flavours.
The Canepa Finisimo Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 gets its distinctness in taste as it is aged for 10-months in oak resulting in a brilliant ruby red drink with red fruit aromas.
The Canepa and Maycas Del Limari are available at hotels, restaurants and selected wine shops in the city.
For details, call 03-7842 6363.