A fabulous evening with Cristobal Undurraga Marimon, an owner and technical director of Koyle winery in Colchagua, Chile.
The Undurraga family started in the Chilean wine business in 1885 and the business has been growing steadily since 1903. The Undurraga family were the first to export wines to United States, and very quickly found great success in the US and around the world.
In 2006, the family sold the Undurraga winery, vineyards, and brand in an effort to establish the new Koyle Winery located in one of the most premium spots in Chile for wine making. The Colchagua Valley has areas of high elevations, well draining soil, and fresh winds that keep acidity. The terrior here is also quite varied here, giving Cristobal the opportunity to match each of the many varieties with the best soil.
During the New York City tasting, we enjoyed many of the best Koyle wines, some familiar and some new. We started out with the Sauvignon Blanc 2015 characterized by a tangy freshness.
Then we had the Koyle Costa Pinot Noir 2015, very balanced despite 14% alcohol. Lots of herbal and delicious aromas and flavors, with bright acidity. I found myself comparing it mentally to the best wines from Sonoma Coast.
Then there was the Koyle Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, from the Cochagua Valley. The blending grapes here were small amounts of tempranillo and petite verdot.
The Koyle Royale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 was a step up in quality (concentrated fruit). Winemaking included small tank vinification for better extraction of aromas, flavors, and tannins. Here there is 18 months of aging French oak barrels.
The premium Koyle Auma 2013 from the special region of Los Lingues was fabulous, having been aged for 24 months in French oak in separate lots and then blended together by gravity in a concrete egg tank. There is another nine months of aging in concrete prior to bottling, with no filtration.
Christobal lives with his family on the vineyard. His farm has lots of chickens, and also predatory animals whose job is to keep the other animals at bay — and away from the grapes.
For example the hawks eat the small blackbirds who eat the grapes. Sometimes the hawks also eat the chickens — but that is biodiversity at work.
It’s always a pleasure to see Cristobal. He makes great wine, passionate about his terroir, and is very creative when it comes to exploring different ways to mature the wine (concrete eggs, etc).