- Rapel Valley- Colchagua &
Posted - January 20 2009
By Daenna Van Mulligen
Hilltop vineyards at Luis Felipe Edwards looking out over the Colchagua
is actually broken into two
sub-appellations – Cachapoal and Colchagua. In the Rapel the heat
is immediately obvious and drip irrigation is common. Taking advantage of higher
temperatures for ripening and tannin structure, red varieties abound. Cachapoal
is the more northerly, and easterly of the two appellations (only about 60
kilometers from Santiago) but both have a similar breakdown of vine plantings –
predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Merlot and Carmenere.
Colchagua is roughly
double the size of Cachapoal and rolls across Chile from the Andes, almost to
the Pacific. Like Maipo Valley Colchagua enjoys three diverse terroirs – the
Andes, the Valley and the Pacific. It was in the Valley of Colchagua that we
wove our way up steep mountain slopes in four-wheel drive trucks, for nearly
half an hour, to vineyards at 1000 m above sea level at Luis Felipe Edwards. The
planting and irrigation systems are fantastic, the slopes treacherous but the
views – stunning. And it was also here that the spring sun baked. The
temperatures during my visit rose above 36 degrees which made hats essential
while touring various vineyards.
Anakena is a winery
committed to paying homage to Chile's indigenous peoples - the ancient peoples,
their symbols and their beliefs. The labels and symbols used on Anakena wines
all represent these ancient pre-Columbian cultures.
Anakena's premium label -
Ona is named for the Ona peoples who were the first inhabitants of Tierra del
Fuego. And as a group the Ona remained apart from Western Civilization for
longer than any other indigenous group - a stunning ten centuries.
vineyard's are spread over four regions; 155 hectares in the Alto Cachapoal
where the winery is located. Here, close to the Andes Sauvignon Blanc,
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Malbec
and Syrah are planted. Also in Cachapoal, in the middle valley near Las Cabras
is 45 hectares of Carmenere, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. In the other half of
Rapel - in the warmer Colchagua, in Ninquén, 70 hectares of Carmenere, Cabernet
Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. And finally in the cooler Leyda in San
Antonio, 128 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and
Single Vineyard Riesling, Maule, 2006
interesting hint of aged aromas - petrol, peaches and marzipan, rich
honey and stone fruit. The texture is creamy yet crisp, petrol, praline,
chamomile, Earl Grey tea and snappy lime and zest on the finish. The 2007
vintage Riesling grapes are sourced from Curico.
Single Vineyard Viognier, Rapel Valley, 2008
is a well known favorite in BC, it has ripe aromas, tropical fruits, honey,
peaches and apricots and sweet spices. Expect an elegant Viognier, softly
rounded with some creamy, spiced hints from brief oak contact and a
clean, zesty finish. $16 BC, $14
Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, Bio Bio Valley, 2007
has fresh, bright red fruit aromas, it has earthy,
forest floor undertones, spices and violets. Fresh and elegant with complex
spice, a silky palate and lifted acidity. Very tasty.
Anakena Single Vineyard
Carmenere, Cachapoal Valley, 2007
shows loads of spices, cedar box, balsamic notes, pepper, chocolate and dark
berry aromas. The mouth-feel is lush and supple with lingering spiced chocolate
flavoured tannins. Very good. The entry level Carmenere available for $13
Riesling~Viognier~Chardonnay, Rapel, 2008
wowed me with its fresh fruity aromas - peach, mango and apricot,
honeysuckle and tropical citrus with appealing minerality. The palate shows
petrol and spice, smoke, minerality and citrus peel - but the Viognier really
pops on the palate. Vibrant and spicy with a long finish - wonderful!
Anakena Ona Pinot Noir Casablanca Valley, 2007
combines small amounts (6% each) Viognier, Merlot and 3% Syrah, curious in a
Pinot Noir but the end result is delicious. Perceptible blueberry, raspberry
aromas, vanilla and minty tones,
crushed violets and sweet cedar box spices - very fragrant.
Ona Cabernet~Merlot~Carmenere, Rapel Valley, 2006
is 50% Cabernet with equal parts of Merlot and
Carmenere. It has mixed berry fruit aromas, balsamic, herbal/bell pepper notes
and bold spices. The palate is plush with chocolate, creamy, bright berries,
tobacco and spices - great structure and power with integrated tannins.
For more information on Anakena click here
The winery at Anakena sporting the Canadian flag for
The entrance at Viña Montes in Apalta
Montes recently celebrated their 20th anniversary - which in Chilean terms is a
But in those twenty years they have accomplished much - international
recognition and awards for the premium wines they produce. In 1987 partners
Aurelio Montes and Dennis Murray established Montes. They started small, with
only 20,000 cases and grew to 30,000 cases by year two along with two more
partners - Pedro Grand and Alfredo Vidaurre. Of course that was back when they
wines they were making were considered 'supermarket wines' (well not in Canada).
Today, Montes is the fifth largest single wine producer in Chile at 800,000
cases and with wineries in Napa Valley and Argentina. This gorgeous winery, not
far from Santa Cruz in Apalta, is a Feng Shui dream. Water, stone, wood and
light are skillfully combined in this six year old facility, its clean, elegant
lines are soothing to say the least. And, it's here that the Montes icon wines
are made. The winery here has a small cafe/restaurant and lovely patio as well
as a hilltop retreat/picnic site for small functions and wonderful sightseeing.
Other primary vineyard sites are north and east in Rapel called the Marchigue
(El Archangel estate) 25 kilometers form
the Pacific and the Los Nogales estate and winery in Curico.
Montes Cherub Syrah Rose on the patio
- top right
The Montes angel in the winery foyer - lower
Montes Cherub of Syrah Rose,
Colchagua Valley, 2008 this is a fun, vibrant wine that happens to be both
pretty and a great food partner...
The colour of pomegranate juice with sweet strawberry, summer berries and candy
floss aromas. It has vibrant citrus and lovely berry flavours, its a bit off-dry
in an appealing patio sipper style and the structure and acidity is very good.
$17 LCBO - 2007 vintage
Montes Alpha Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, 2006
is sweetly spiced with aromas of of fresh churned butter, pineapple, melon
and tropical citrus. The caramel, spiced butter and tropical notes flow through
onto the palate - the oak lifts rather than overpowers and the finish lingers,
crisp and strong. $27 BCLDB $22 LCBO
Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, 2008 is part of
the "Limited Selection" tier of Montes wines. The aromas are sweet cherries,
earth and tobacco, hints of leather and soft spices. Fresh and silky on the
palate - cherry spiced tobacco, pepper and strawberry flavours linger nicely...
Montes Alpha Pinot Noir, Leyda Valley, 2006 from the premium tier (this
wine would retail in private stores for about $30+) has intriguing savoury and
mineral tones - black cherry, moist earth like forest floor/composty/mushroomy
aromas so typical in Pinot Noir with undertones of peppery spices and smoke. The
palate is dense, masculine and smoky with fresh cherries and bright
acidity and youthful tannins that linger on the finish.
12 months spent in French oak.
Montes Alpha Syrah, Apalta Colchagua Valley, 2006 is made from 90% Syrah
and the remainder a blend of equal parts Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon and is
most certainly savoury. Smokey berry aromas, char-grilled meat, Szechwan
peppercorns, and obvious floral aromas. Its an elegant wine, smooth and lush,
balanced fruit and structure with a delicious lingering finish tasting of
peppery spice and licorice.
$30 BC, $23 LCBO
Montes Alpha 'M', Apalta
Colchagua Valley, 2005
is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (80%) with Cabernet
Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. This is a concentrated wine with dried fruit
(almost Ripasso in style), cedar box spices, earthy/mushroomy hints, coffee and
tobacco. The entry is fresh then the dried fruit and intense spice kick in - the
structure is excellent the flavours dense, the tannins sweet.
About $90 when available
Montes Folly, 2005, Apalta, Colchagua Valley, 2005
was named as it was
considered a folly to plant Syrah in Chile and even more so because it was on a
high slope. Now look whose laughing. Fragrant crushed floral and sweet berry
aromas and a sprinkle of white pepper.
Blackberry flavours and more pepper on the palate, its elegant and juicy with
powerful tannins on the finish. A keeper.
About $90 when available
Montes 'Purple Angel', Colchagua Valley, 2005
only 8000 cases of six is available for the
world which is a shame because this Carmenere (92%) and Petit Verdot is a dense,
tooth-purpling seraph. Red berry fruit, smoked spices, green beans and a hint of
jalapeno. On the palate, expect, roasted red pepper, loads of spice, bright
acidity and grippy tannins. One for the cellar!
About $57 when available
There is good availability in BC of the following Montes wines:
Montes Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda (in BC private wine stores)
Montes Cabernet Carmenere
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon
For more information on Montes wines
Dennis Murray of Viña Montes at the hilltop picnic and viewing site looking over
the vineyards and winery in Apalta.
Luis Felipe Edwards
There are some beautiful views and historical
estates throughout Chile that cross both vineyards and time. But there was no
more breathtaking view than that of the mountainside vineyards of Luis Felipe
Edwards. We traveled in small 4x4x trucks for nearly one half hour winding and
weaving and climbing on breathtaking switchbacks, dirt roads and tracks. Faint
of heart look away… Unbelievable vineyards were carved out of raw land,
irrigations stations and pipes cling to steep slopes and workers harness
themselves in. There is a immense amount of work in this project – planting
new vineyards at 1000 meters above sea level is no small task – not if you are
going to do it right.
LFE is a
family-run business – the eldest son is managing director, a daughter manages
the bottling line and is married to the technical director and another son is
the sales director.
In 1974 the family started with 30 hectares of vines, the grapes, they sold to
Santa Rita. But in 1976 they decided to build a winery and started making
their own wine. Now at around 700 hectares of planted vines spread across four
major vineyards, they export all of their one million cases of wine.
Syrah, Carmenere, Cabernet, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Mourvedre and the
whites Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. The reds are intense, inky,
concentrated even with so many young vines. They are a winery to watch –
hopefully we’ll see some in British Columbia soon – they are currently available
right: family members Nicolas Bizzarri and Salvador Barros Vial
Filipe Edwards Sauvignon Blanc, Colchagua Valley, 2008
is a bright, sweet, tropical fruit bomb with peaches, minerals, citrus and
grassy hints. Its snappy an fresh on the palate and lingers with peachy
Felipe Edwards Chadonnay, Colchagua Valey, 2008
is ripe and tropical with fresh young pineapple aromas, creamy peaches, floral
and honey tones. The palate features a creamy entry – buttery in fact – with
flavours of sweet peaches, mineral and caramel praline – the finish is bright
but spice clings.
Felipe Edwards Reserva Merlot, Colchagua Valley, 2007
is youthful and shows spicy jalapeno and green olive aromas, chocolate covered
cherries and plums with hints of balsamico. The palate has creamy red berries on
the entry, peppery spice and more jalapeno, vanilla and cocoa. The fruit gets
darker as mid-palate the tannins are fine and dry, vanilla and cocoa linger.
Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Malbec, Colchagua Valley, 2007
emits intense purple aromas – juicy berries, bittersweet chocolate, floral and
typical savoury undertones. Tannins grip your palate throughout, its
concentrated, masculine and powerful. The grapes for this wine come from 40+
year old vines and this wine will age well for up to ten years.
Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Shiraz, Colchagua Valley, 2007
hails from the terraced hilltop
vineyards – which seems to be what Syrah like. It has the fragrance of crushed
purple flowers, blackberries, sweet spices and vanilla. The palate is fresh and
elegant with solid, bright fruit flavours and chocolate cherries. The berries
linger on the finish of this delicious wine.
Luis Felipe Edwards Doña Bernarda, Colchagua
Valley 2005 is laden with sweet berry, chocolate and eucalyptus aromas – its
smoky, meaty and earthy with intense flavours, loads of bright acidity and
powerful, ripe tannins.
sample of Mourvedre – comes from hilltop bush vines – it shows, coffee
liqueur, intense licorice, pepper and strawberry twizzler aromas. Its powerful
and gripping on the palate – spices linger and the tannins don’t let up.
A barrel sample of Carmenere
shows ripe berries, chocolate nose with blueberry juice in the mouth with loads
of lingering spices, great acidity and power.
More information of Luis Felipe Edwards
view from the stunning 1000m mountaintop vineyards of Luis
From the hilltop
vineyards and vistas of Luis Felipe Edwards, I traveled back into the intense
heat of the valley to the 160-hectare biodynamic vineyard of Vinedos Organicos
Emiliana. As sweat trickled out from under my sun hat ad down my back I listened
as winemaker Antonio Bravo von Bischoffshausen talked with enthusiastiasm and
passion about Biodynamics. Biodynamics is to the layman, confusing, voodoo
if you will, a kind of pagan method of agriculture as old as time and incredibly
intricate. But I appreciate what biodynamic farmers are trying to achieve
through hard work and passion. I applaud its positive affect on the planet, on
our tired soils, and our bodies while my understanding of it just scratches the
surface. Astrological calendars, wildflowers let loose among vines, chickens
running loose, on-site fertilization produced by animals on the farm and
manure-filled horns buried in the vineyard from equinox to equinox…
Reserva Chardonnay, Colchagua Valley, 2008
has an earthy element in addition to its buttery tones and its white fruit and
herbal elements. Clean on the palate with softly rounded acidity and zest on the
Novas WMS Chardonnay, Marsanne and Viognier, Colchagua Valley, 2007
is an interesting blend with prominent toasted oak and spiced butter aromas. The
palate echoes the aromas with loads of spiced butterscotch flavours followed
with bright citrus and white fruit and zest on the finish, A good pairing with
medium firm cheeses and nuts.
About $20+ BC private wine
Novas WMS Syrah, Casablanca Valley, 2006
is obviously not from the hotter Colchagua Vineyard presenting meaty, smoky
aromas with black berries, cranberry and cherry aromas, coffee grounds, spiced
chocolate and hints of briny green olives. The fresh berry fruit reappears on
the palate with hints of dried fruits and earthy/savoury tones followed by
seasoning salt flavours and ripe tannins.
Coyam Colchagua Valley, 2006 has proven
to be a stand out once again (it was one of my top picks for 2008). Huge savoury
aromas – salted, smoked meat, black cherry and ripe berries on the nose. The
palate is lush, yet fresh with earthy, spicy flavours, spiced chocolate and
pepper on the finish
It has good acidity and structure with firm tannins that
soften nicely paired with some medium firm cheeses.
for the 2005 review
‘G’, Los Robles Colchagua Valley
is a blend of Carmenere (40%), Syrah (35%) and the
remainder of Cabernet and Merlot. It has plush chocolaty and rich berry aromas,
with savoury undertones. There is great acidity on the palate, the fruit is
intense, sweet and supple, the chocolate and coffee flavours return on the
The finish is peppery, the
tannins ripe but very firm –
it needs a couple more years to soften.
For more information on Emiliana
estate vineyard planted in 1912 at Casa Silva
Casa Silva is
like a quaint village unto itself, complete with a car museum, a restaurant and
even a boutique hotel on site
at the estate in Angostura. Mario Silva and the Silva family who own Casa Silva
lay claim to ancestor Emilio Bouchon - who is also the ancestor of J.Bouchon
(see Maule Valley) founded this winery a
decade after he arrived in Chile from Bordeaux in 1892. And the
traditional Chilean buildings and barrel cellar still in use, are a tribute to
those generations and days gone by.
In 1997 after producing grapes and juice to sell in bulk to other producers Casa
Silva switched to making wines under their own label. The fifth generation "Quinta
Generación " Silva is now involved in the winery.
The vineyards are all in Colchagua - spread from the Paredones vineyard
near the Pacific at coastal Colchagua to the Los Linges vineyards at the Andes
foothills and most of their vines were planted around 1910...
Casa Silva Sauvignon Gris, Colchagua Valley, 2008 shows bright tree fruit
aromas, clean minerality and crisp citrus but the Sauvignon Blanc character
outsines the Gris character in this wine - different from the Cousiño Macul
Sauvignon Gris in Maipo. Its direct, almost austere with mouth-watering acidity.
Casa Silva Quinta Generación White, Colchagua Valley, 2007 blends almost
equal parts of Viognier, Sauvignon Gris and Chardonnay fromtheir estate
vineyards. Its a lovely aromatic blend, showing papaya, floral and spiced
peaches on the nose and crisp citric, minerals, white pepper and star anise with
bit of savoury herbs on the palate. Snappy acidity, easy drinking wine.
LCBO $16 (2004)
Casa Silva Dona Dominga Old Vines Cabernet~Carmenere,Colchagua Valley, 2007
is quite a powerhouse wine for good value. Savoury aromas - green pepper and
herbs, blackberries, peppercorns and chocolate with meaty/seasoning salt notes.
The palate is rich and dark with loads of peppery spices, balsamic, tobacco and
leather with fine tannins to dry up the finish.
Casa Silva Carmenere Reserva, Colchagua 2007 is ruby-violet in colour
with spice and savoury aromas, blueberry and blackberry fruit, pepper and smoked
sausage aromas. The palate is fresh - the entry laden with berries and it has an
appealing delicate weight and texture - soft and supple moving into lingering
flavours of espresso and spice. Very good.
Casa Silva Quinta Generación Red, Colchagua Valley, 2005
The 2004 of this wine was one of my Top50 $20-$50 wines for 2008
here) and this one will certainly be in the running again. Blueberry - ripe
and creamy - cassis and chocolate, spices and sweet red peppers. Supple and
creamy on the palate layered
with fruit/spice/savoury notes, balanced acidity and ripe tannins. Delicious.
A blend of Cebernet, Carmenere, Syrah and Petit Verdot.
the 2004 is about $30 in BC private wine stores $20 in the LCBO
Casa Silva Altura, Colchagua Valley, 2003 is Casa Silvas
ultra-premium/icon wine. It is a blend of 60% Carmenere with equal parts of
Cabernet and Petit Verdot. An opulent smalling wine brimming with berry fruit,
lifted green aromas and meaty undertones. The palate is impressively elegant,
refined with lovely structured tannin, good acidity and a long finish.
avail in Alberta/ the 2001 is $43 in LCBO stores
for more information on Casa Silva click
courtyard at Casa Silva - the boutique hotel
Link to Chile
- an introduction here
Link to Chile - Aconcagua Valley here
Link to Chile Maipo Valley here
Link to Chile - Curicó & Maule
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