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Tasting notes from Chile

text and photographs © 2010 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Chile, North to South.


Anakena celebrated its 10th birthday last year, the company still owned by Felipe Ibáñez and Jorge Gutiérrez, two schoolfriends who founded the company in Cachapoal, one half of the Rapel Valley (with Colchagua to the south). Today 155 hectares of vineyards in Alto Cachapoal are joined by 128 hectares in Leyda, 70 Colchagua and 60 in Las Cabras, another sub-zone of the Rapel Valley.

Anakena's wines are also exported to more than 40 countries, with the USA its most important market, followed by the UK, Japan and Scandinavia. This is an export-led businesses, with only around 15% of production sold in the domestic market. The 400,000 cases they produced in 2009 was a 17% increase on 2008

I was delighted to renew my acquaintance with head winemaker Gonzalo Pérez, whom I'd last met in 2009 in Scotland. When Gonzalo started in 2003 the production was a mere 35,000 cases, so they have been planting substantially.

"It's is all about terroir," says Gonzalo. "Here in Cachapoal we have Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Viognier and Malbec - which is surprisingly good. In Leyda we have cool-climate varieties, and near Santa Cruz where it is hotter we obtain a different expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot."

But growth has its down side too, and Gonzalo expresses a certain affection for the old days: "With 35,000 you can have a hand directly on everything, but now at 400,000 cases it is impossible."

Gonzalo says the company policy is to maintain the quality and price of its current range, but introduce new ranges at higher price points. I sampled two of those from barrel, a Carmenère and Syrah from Peumo, a part of Cachapoal that whilst not close to the sea, is open to sea breezes. Both had beautifully plush fruit. "Carmenère is something new for Chile," said Gonzalo, "but I believe it is a noble variety. It works well in blends, and we stand behind Carmenère: it's a variety with which we want to work."

white wines

UK agents for Viña Anakena is Stratfords. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

Anakena Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Central Valley. Clean, ripe, fruit, with passionfruit and lemon. Nice, tight apple fruit, not a flamboyant wine, but has nice balance and freshness and a tangy finish. 86/100. £5.99.

Anakena Indo Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Leyda fruit. More cool-climate, passion fruit character, a bit more punch and ripeness. But still that apple, melon and citrus fruit and tempered quality. 87/100. £6.99.

Anakena Indo Chardonnay 2009
Casablanca fruit. 20% barrel ferment and only one month in oak, with no malolactic. Nice nose, just creamy and gently almondy, with a dry., lemony fruit quality. The palate is cool and apply, perhaps lacking a little mid-palate intensity, but the pithy, orange and lemon quality of the finish is flavoursome and has some tang and juiciness. 87/100. £6.99.

Anakena Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Casablanca Valley. Old vines from a grower they have worked with for many years. Quite an asparagus and mineral nose, with a definite minerality and touch of smokiness. The palate has lots of juicy life, with a touch of tropical fruit and plenty of zesty, lemon peel tang. Nice balance and length. 88/100. £8.99.

Anakena Single Vineyard Viognier 2009
Rapel Valley. 20% barrel ferment, but back to stainless steel after one month. Lovely nose, which Gonzalo says is achieved with a lot of work on the canopy and generally keeping on top of the vineyard to make sure no bitter phenolics develop. Ripe, rich, dried apricot nose with a touch of fleshy yellow plum and a little spice. Lovely fruit sweetness. 88/100. £8.99.

Anakena Ona Riesling Viognier Chardonnay 2008
From Rapel and Casablanca, and Riesling from 30 - 40-yer-old vines, a contract vineyard but totally managed by Anakena. Quite a creamy nose, the Chardonnay and Viognier more obvious, with nutty fruit and a touch of that apricot and peach. On the palate there's a nice lemony, fresh, crisp character here, with lots of zest and palate weight and nice length. 89/100. £9.99, Oddbins

red wines

Anakena Carmenère 2008
Rapel. Nicely dense and dusty black fruited nose, with plenty of sweet, plumy fruit and a touch of liquorice. The palate has good fruit and that dry, plum skin and dusty cherry fruit, very nice tannins and a warming hint of pepper and spice in the finish. 87/100.

Anakena Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Rapel. Unoaked, looking for a fruity expression. Deep, quite leathery quality, with some black fruit coming through nicely. The palate has a rich blackcurrant core, the fruit quite incisive and sweet, the tannins quite gentle and ripe and a nicely balanced, long finish. 87/100.

Anakena Indo Merlot Syrah 2008
15% Syrah. Rapel, tank sample. Quite dark, plummy fruit, a touch of cedar, in a very pleasing profile. Silky, rich fruit in the mouth, with very nice mid-palate weight. 88/100.

Anakena Indo Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah 2008
Rapel. Tank sample. 15% Syrah. Quite subtle, but tight wound and muscular black fruit. Cedar and a little fragrant, exotic spice. Quite a tight, leathery character with savoury black olive notes and sinewy tannins. Quite grippy and dry, but has a food-friendly, savoury character. 87/100.

Anakena Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
Rapel (a Leyda wine to come on stream). Quite a peppery and spicy Pinot, with an earthiness and a soft fruitiness like strawberries and ripe raspberries. The palate has a creaminess to the texture, and a cool berry fruit character that stays poised and creamy, with a nice brightness to the acidity and a grippy, freshening tannin structure. 88/100.

Anakena Single Vineyard Carmenère 2007
Rapel. Very dusty, ground black pepper character. Plum skins and a touch of earthiness and just a hint of something more juicy. The palate has that real juiciness too, with plenty of tangy, glossy black fruit and lots of acidity here - fresh and mouth-watering, with fine tannins but doing a nice job of roughening up the finish. 89/100.

Anakena Ona Pinot Noir 2008
Casablanca Pinot from granitic soil, with little touches of Viognier, Merlot and Syrah. Big, aromatic, coffee and mocha nose, with a deep earthiness and some vanilla, but also a little hint of more sweet strawberry fruit. Lots of coffee and spice on the palate too, with good fruit and a luscious weight and texture. Very nice. 89/100.

Anakena Ona Syrah 2007
Rapel. Three percent of Viognier blended in. Bold, striking, blue/black fruit, with lots of purity and focus. A hint of currant, overripe fruit. The palate has great fruit too, with delicious juiciness, lots of sweet mid-palate fruit and texture, and a fine-grained tannin. The acidity is good in a long, delicious and focused Syrah. 90/100.

Anakena Ona Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère Syrah 2007
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Carmenère, 20% Syrah. There's a certain dustiness on the noise of this again, probably from the Carmenère component. I like the focused black fruit of the mid-palate, with a cedar quality and an earthiness, and a big, dry, powerful tannin backbone. This is savoury and food friendly, and although there is good fruit, it is that big, dry tannin backbone and acidity that drives this at the moment. Delicious but needs some time - the fruit is terrific, but tannins need to soften. 91/100.

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