We recently met up with Alfonso Undurraga Marimon whose name is an icon in the Chilean wine industry. Undurraga’s wines were commonly seen in this market for years, but the family got an offer it couldn’t refuse and sold the brand and vineyards in 2006. Since then, Alfonso’s father, Alfonso Undurraga Mackenna, launched a new biodynamic winery in the Los Lingues zone of Alto Colchagua in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.
Koyle, named after a native plant in the region, is just beginning to make its way into the local market.
This time around, the family will concentrate on hand-crafted red wines made in small quantities.
Alfonso’s Undurraga Marimon’s responsibility is getting the wines distributed while his brother, Cristobal, makes the wine. From the looks of it, Cristobal is not shy about experimenting with different blends. He likes malbec because of his experience making wine in neighboring Argentina, but he isn’t reluctant to throw some tempranillo with syrah and carmenere. The results are intriguing and will interest those of you who aren’t as tradition-bound as the French.
Koyle makes wine in three tiers with the Royale being their reserve class. and two other incredible wines in the upper reserve label, called Auma and LTU. The Auma ($99) is a phenomenal blend of malbec, cabernet sauvignon, carmenere, syrah and petit verdot. The 2008 LTU ($65) is made entirely of malbec grapes and would give any Argentine malbec a run for its money. It is dense, concentrated, full-blown and delicious.
Here are the Koyle wines we liked:
Koyle Reserva Malbec 2011 ($17). The mineral notes in most of theKoyle wines comes from the unique soil in the Los Lingues region. It is evident in this tasty, full-bodied malbec. Lots of blueberry and plum notes with the classic velvet finish. It is blended with 7 percent syrah and 3 percent carmenere.
Koyle Reserva Syrah 2011 ($17). The style of this wine is closer to what you would fine in the Rhone Valley rather than Australia. Serious but not overripe with generous aromas, blackberry and expresso flavors.
Koyle Royale Carmenere 2011 ($26). Carmenere is always a hard sell because of its unfamilarity and the belief that it makes a better blending grape. However, this wine, blended with a bit of petit verdot and malbec, is a splendid example of the capability of the grape variety. Good body, complex with graphite and dark berry flavors.
Decoy Sonoma County Merlot 2012 ($25). Blended with cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and cabernet franc, this luscious and balanced merlot avoids the herbaceous character of a lot of off-putting merlots and instead concentrates on pure fruit. Ripe plum and cherry flavors abound.
Rojo Granrojo Tempranillo 2011 ($10). Rojo has produced an affordable tempranillo and garnacha that would do well with grilled meats and pasta. The tempranillo sports fresh cherry flavors while the garnacha has simple red fruit flavors with a dash of mineral.
Marco Felluga Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Ronco dei Moreri 2011 ($20). We liked the price on this delicious and concentrated refosco from the Venezia Giulia region of Italy. Assertive raspberry aromas followed by fresh berry flavors.
Quivira Dry Creek Zinfandel 2011 ($22). We thoroughly enjoyed this delightful wine — a perennial favorite. It is blended with a bit of petite sirah, carignane, syrah and even cabernet sauvignon to give it more complexity and broader flavors. The result of this melange is a profile that ranges from raspberries and blackberries to ripe, sweet cherries.
Amici Cellars Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($25). More complex than most sauvignon blancs, this treat has fresh citrus and pineapple aromas with round tropical fruit, lemon and a dash of wet stone on the finish. That half of the wine comes from the sauvignon musque clone is no surprise. Winemaker Joel Aiken has done a very nice job with this brand.