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Chile's Original 'Garage Wine'
By Mary Ewing-Mulligan
Oct 7, 2014
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Antiyal, Valle del Maipo (Chile) 2012 (Global Vineyard Importers, $75):  Some critics believe that wines made from the Carmenere grape will become Chile’s flagship red wines.  Personally, I have put my faith in Chile’s Cabernet Sauvignon wines instead, for two reasons:  Unless Carmenere grapes are fully ripe -- requiring low crop levels and/or a gifted vineyard -- the wines can be vegetal; also, Chile has a solid track record in producing some world-class Cabernets.  However, tasting through some recent releases of Chilean reds, mainly from small producers, has caused me to reconsider my stance. Blends featuring Carmenere, Cabernet Franc and Syrah were impressive indeed.

The wine called Antiyal was the most impressive of all.  It is a blend of Carmenere (49 percent), Cabernet Sauvignon (35 percent) and Syrah (16 percent), produced by star winemaker Alvaro Espinosa from grapes grown organically by him and his family in the foothills of the interior Alto Maipo.

Alvaro Espinosa is Chile’s leading advocate for organic and biodynamic grape farming.  He was also Chile’s earliest proponent of Carmenere, when in the mid 1990s scientists identified as Carmenere vines in Chilean vineyards that were thought to be Merlot; at the time he was winemaker at Carmen.  In 1996, Espinosa created Antiyal--which has been called Chile’s first “garage wine”--as a small family venture, producing tiny quantities of the namesake wine.  In 2012, he produced only 400 cases of Antiyal.

The 2012 vintage of Antiyal is particularly attractive -- a rich red wine with exceptional balance, seductive texture and a complex but not overpowering expression of aromas and flavors.  The nose suggests dark notes of very ripe fruits, blackberry, red cherry, black pepper spice, and delicate herbs, such as licorice. In your mouth, soft texture might be the first impression, a rich denseness of very ripe fruit that’s then balanced and grounded by powdery tannins your tongue.  Flavors of dark fruit are expansive, while mineral notes bring an earthy contrast.  The finish is rich and minutes-long. 

Despite its lavish richness, 2012 Antiyal does not come across as powerful as much as it seems simply complete. I found the structure almost spherical rather than the lean structure that would be expected in a Cabernet Sauvignon wine.  Searching for a way to describe the style, I find Syrah a more useful analogy than Cabernet Sauvignon, but with freshness and flavor accents of Carmenere.

The 2012 Antiyal is clearly a young wine but I find it completely accessible now. It will undoubtedly develop with bottle age, and in a few years I will probably judge that it improved with age.  But right now, I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t pull the cork, find a nice, large Bordeaux-type glass, and enjoy it.

93 Points