Cristóbal Undurraga:
Cristóbal Undurraga: when plants and their environment are in balance, they cope well with whatever conditions nature may bring.

Many Chilean winemakers may be hailing 2016 as a difficult year, but biodynamic winemaker Cristóbal Undurraga says it’s been a good year at Koyle. He believes that when plants and their environment are in balance, they cope well with whatever conditions nature may bring.

Last week Cristóbal presented some of his wines, including the latest vintage, at a Koyle wine tasting at Vinoteca in Viña del Mar. Here are my tasting notes.

Koyle Don Cande Muscat 2016, Itata. 11.8% ABV. Not yet in the shops.

This year was dry in Itata, the source of the first wine in the tasting, but the old, dry-farmed vines took it in their stride. The grapes ripened more slowly and produced good acidity with moderate alcohol levels. This wine is fermented at low temperatures, part in stainless steel and part in a concrete tank with its skins, this latter adding texture in the mouth.

A beautifully aromatic wine with all the intense fruity smells and flavours of a Muscat wine, but, instead of the cloying sweet mouth you expect, it is dry, elegant and nicely acidic.

Koyle Costa Cuartzo Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Paredones, Colchagua Costa. 12.8% ABV. (CLP$9,999 / £7.95)

An intriguing nose of grapefruit, limes and pineapples with a distinct minerality and that classic hint of green chilli pepper. The fruit and mineral notes were apparent again in the mouth, together with refreshing, zesty acidity and none of that lip-puckering lemon-sharpness you can find in some Sauvignon Blanc wines. Lovely concentration and expression and a long finish.

Koyle Costa Pinot Noir 2014, Paredones, Colchagua Costa. (CLP$15,990)

Cristóbal fermented the Pinot Noir grapes (30% whole clusters) in an open vat with their native yeasts. 70% of the wine was aged for a year in a concrete egg-shaped tank and the wine was bottle-aged for another year.

Medium ruby in colour, this wine expressed the minerality of Paredones with notes of graphite or gunpowder intertwined with a marked savoury character and subtle red fruit notes. For a Pinot Noir, this is quite a big wine: dry with high acidity, medium (+) tannins and medium body. A fairly long finish with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Landscape at Los Lingues in early spring.
Landscape at Los Lingues in early spring.

Koyle Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Los Lingues, Alto Colchagua. (CLP$8,490)

This wine contains 10% Cabernet Franc to add length and body. 2012 was a warm year, hence the ripe tannins. The destemmed and crushed grapes underwent a long maceration, including a month post-fermentation to ensure malolactic fermentation took place.

Aromas of black fruit, such as blackcurrants and blueberries intermingled with notes of violets and sweet spices, like cinnamon, in this pleasing, nicely concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of smooth, ripe tannins in the mouth were complemented by refreshing acidity, medium body and fresh fruit flavours. You can enjoy this wine now but it is suitable for further ageing.

Koyle Single Vineyard Carmenere 2013, Los Lingues, Alto Colchagua. (CLP$8,490)

This wine included 8% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec to contribute aroma and tension.

A nice, concentrated example of Chilean Carménère with lots of black and red fruit aromas and flavours, such as blueberries and raspberries, a touch of minerality and some spicy notes like black pepper, and just a hint of forest floor. With a good level of acidity, high levels of somewhat astringent tannins and all those primary fruit, mineral and spice flavours, this wine has the potential to benefit from further ageing.

These dry-farmed, bush-trained Tempranillo vines give low yields of very concentrated grapes: part of the mix going into Koyle Tempranillo
These dry-farmed, bush-trained Tempranillo vines give low yields of very concentrated grapes: part of the mix going into Koyle’s Tempranillo wines

Koyle Royale Tempranillo 2012, Los Lingues, Alto Colchagua. (CLP$13,490 / £10.95)

This wine includes 15% Mourvedre. Tempranillo, one of Spain’s key wine varieties, is little-known in Chile, which makes it all the more impressive that this wine was recently awarded 91 points by a Spanish wine critic – Luis Gutiérrez of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

This is a lovely example, with notes of red fruit, like raspberries and redcurrants, intermingling with the aromas and flavours of leather, cedar and cigarbox from the oak. Nicely concentrated, with ripe, smooth tannins, fresh acidity and medium + body and finish, this wine is drinking very nicely now but has potential to evolve further in the bottle.

Koyle Cerro Basalto, Los Lingues, Alto Colchagua.

25% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, 30% Carignan, 20% Syrah

A very elegant, well-rounded and easy-to-drink red which has potential for further ageing. An expressive nose with aromas and flavours of red and black fruit (raspberries and blackcurrants), Koyle’s classic note of basalt, a hint of violets and a touch of spices, including black pepper and vanilla.

Auma 2010 (CLP$62,990)

Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Malbec, Syrah and Petit Verdot.

The blend for Auma, Koyle’s iconic wine, varies significantly from vintage to vintage, but it’s always a very expressive, concentrated wine with good balance.  This vintage revealed lots of fruit (blueberries, plums, blackcurrants), violets, classic oak notes of leather, cigarbox and vanilla and a hint of liquorice. With medium acidity, high levels of smooth tannins and full body with a good long finish, this is a lovely wine for a special occasion.

Koyle wines are available from Vinoteca in Chile and The Wine Society in the UK.

To find out more about Koyle, check out these posts:

Cristóbal Undurraga: biodynamic winemaker

Biodynamic & organic Chilean wine guide

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *