Dinner with Cristobal Undurraga of Chile’s Vina Koyle

la foto

Cristobal’s family


So “wow” is all I can say after dining with Cristobal Undurraga of Chile’s Vina Koyle in the Colchagua DO Valley.

Very few wineries can offer the pedigree of its winemaker Cristobal Undurraga, whose ancestor Francisco planted the first vineyards in the 1880s and in the decades that followed, was the pioneering force that turned Undurraga into a mainstream brand.

More than a century later (2006), the family sold its Undurraga name/brand and began the new Vina Koyle project, giving Cristobal – a trained and well seasoned enologist –  a free hand in creating a new biodynamic project called Koyle.

At first handshake, Cristobal is very friendly, forthcoming, and extremely creative when it comes to his stories about how he grows, blends, and matures wine on the 1,000 hectare estate, with just 120 ha suitable for planting.

Last night’s dinner was all about celebrating innovation and exploration. as Cristobal has many types of terroir (different exposures, different altitudes) and different types of maturation vessels (the egg, stainless steel, large and small oak) to utilize in his search to find a wine that is balanced, able to age successfully, and delicious to taste.

The evening kicked off with the only white wine produced, a very charismatic Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Colchagua Costa grown in different terroirs and aged in different vessels.  The flavors were dynamic … a whiff of tangerine here, a different sort of citrus (meyer lemon) there. Fabulous wine appropriate for seafood or white fish or just as an aperitif.

The reds followed … each was very specific to its vineyard and varietal, yet uniformly they were well balanced, with moderate (for Chile) alcohol, and very good balance between acid, oak, and tannin.

For example, the Cabernet Sauvignon Koyle Gran Reserva 2011 comes from the Los Lingues estate which are biodynamic and have stringent water use to preserve the terroir expression. The Koyle Gran Reserva Carmenere 2012 was well balanced and quite delicious (also, this varietal is trending very hot in NYC right now), while the 2012 Koyle Costa Pinot Noir 2012 was delicious and fresh.

The 2010 Larrain Lassmartres, Toso, & Undurraga from Argentina (yes, their land in Argentina) was as delicious as it was expensive ($64.99), as it comes from 16 year old vines in a single vineyard at a high altitude, helping it achieve cool nights and warm days.

Also of interest is the Koyle Royale Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, very intense with a great aroma of herbs, red berries, and cedar, as well as the Koyle Royale Carmenere 2012 that offers a juicy quality with firm yet velvet tannins.

The experience ends with the Koyle Auma 2010 a blend of 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Carmenere, 18% Malbec, 13% Syrah, and 7% Petit Verdot … very top of the line wine that is aged for 24 months in French oak in separate lots, and blended together by gravity in a concrete egg vessel where the blended wine aged for an additional 9 months prior to bottling.

The wines were so delicious – and so numerous in terms of style – it was difficult to give up a glass to make way for others on the table. Yet it was a great introduction to Vina Koyle and its wine master Cristobal Undurraga.

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