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VIK Wines: A Story Like No Other
By Miranda Franco
Oct 20, 2020
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The story of VIK begins with Norwegian entrepreneur Alexander Vik.  In 2004, he envisioned a luxury retreat and vineyard that would produce world-class wines.  The pursuit led him about two hours south of Santiago to 11,000 acres in the Millahue Valley, between the Pacific Ocean and the high-altitude Andes Mountains.  

For those fortunate enough to visit, it is an unparalleled experience.  The lavish Vik Chile hotel and its adjoining VIK vineyard and winery are known for an intoxicating blend of art, food, architecture, and wine.  The destination offers panoramic views of the vines, rolling lush valleys, a glistening lake, and in the distance, the majestic Andes Mountains.  It is a site that has to be seen…as pictures cannot do it justice.  However, pictures alone will undoubtedly induce wanderlust.  

While the hotel boasts world-class art, architecture, and stunning valley views, winemaking is the primary focus.  Like no other, the winery is a vast modernist structure with an expansive water feature in front and large boulders representing the surrounding vineyard.  Inside, the winery is filled with tanks and barrels (some of which are made from VIK's estate oak trees).  It is in the winery that Chief Winemaker Cristián Vallejo makes incredibly nuanced and detailed wines, offering depth and character from every sip.

I was introduced to VIK wines at one of my favorite wine shops, Grand Cata, in Washington, D.C.  It was there that Andrea VanEerten, the VIK US Brand Manager, walked me through their outstanding portfolio of wines.  I was entranced after the first sip.  A few hours later, I was dramatically reorganizing an already scheduled trip to Chile to include a visit to VIK winery.  My visit transformed my affection for the wines into a full-blown obsession.  Now there is little I dream of more than hopping on a plane to South America and escaping to VIK during these perilous days.  However, given our current circumstances, the next best thing was a recent opportunity to talk and taste with Cristián Vallejo virtually.  

Vallejo oversees VIK's viticulture and viniculture.  He is a native Chilean who has worked in Napa, Spain, France, and Italy before returning to Chile in 2006 to begin work at VIK.  Through our discussion, it is clear that he is determined to make the most elegant, dynamic, and expressive wines imaginable.   When I asked about his view of VIK wines, Vallejo noted that he wanted the wines "to be easy to read, not easy to drink."  He views his wines like a book –"every sip is a page, and every glass is a chapter telling a beautiful story."  Like a good book, good wine is the product of someone who loves what they do, and Vallejo's passion for wine and winemaking is infectious.  

VIK produces four estate wines, the entry-level Milla Cala, the midrange La Piu Belle, the flagship VIK, and the winery's latest wine, the Piu Belle Rosé.  

Milla Cala 2016, $35 (92 points) is a Bordeaux-style red blend of 67 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 17 % Carménère, 11 % Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1 % Syrah.  If we view VIK wines like books, Milla Cala is perhaps the Cliff Notes of VIK.  It provides you with an introduction to the attention to detail placed in the creation of VIK wines.  The style is opulent and impressive.  At the core, you'll find strawberry, blackcurrant, and blackberry laced with subtle baking spice and floral notes.  The wine is energized with ample acidity and polished tannins.  Given the caliber of this wine, Milla Cala is the pinnacle of value.

"La Piu Belle" 2015, $79 (94 points).  If the Milla Cala is the Cliff Notes of VIK, then the Piu Belle is the novel you read year after year.  It's a wine that becomes a permanent fixture in your wine cellar, and each time you taste it, you learn something new.  The Piu Belle is more “New World” in style than the Milla Cala and VIK.  This blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Carménère and 14% Syrah has remarkable definition, with a textural richness developed after 23 months in French oak.  The Piu Belle showcases notes of ripe blackberries, plum, cassis, blueberries, and violets that mingle with more savory hints of wild herb and cocoa.  The flavors are softly layered, with round tannins leading to a long memorizing finish.  To further enhance the wine's appeal, a colorful painting from artist Gonzalo Cinefuegos adorns the bottle, lending another distinctive touch to a beautiful wine.  

VIK 2013, $140 (97 points):   VIK is the flagship wine and the icon of the winery, a rich red blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, 14% Carmenere, and 2% Merlot.  In staying with the book analogies, VIK is the literary classic that will stand the test of time.  It has a riveting complexity, like a great classic book that challenges you.  The palate is graceful and expansive, unfolding with layers of blackberry, cassis, currant, and a hint of cigar wrapper.  The wine resonates with supreme freshness beside fine-grained tannins.  It conveys a timeless “Old World” elegance but retains the essence of the dynamic Chilean terroir.  

"La Piu Belle" Rosé 2019, $25 (92 points), is comprised of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 % Cabernet Franc and 4% Syrah.  The Piu Belle Rosé is the beach read you can't resist.  A desire for a wine featuring freshness inspired the release of the Piu Belle Rosé.  There are hints of raspberries, red plum, and subtle floral notes of lavender and violet on the nose and palate.  It delivers soft texture, richness, and the desired mouthwatering freshness.  This is a rosé to enjoy poolside and all-year-round, or it could it work well tableside to amplify the flavors of many of your favorite dishes.  

As Vallejo noted, VIK is like a book telling a beautiful story of passion and dedication.  Like a good story, VIK leaves you wanting more.  As such, VIK and Vallejo continue to innovate and evolve by embracing sustainable practices, most notably organic and biodynamic viticulture.  Vallejo is also currently working on two unique passion projects inspired by the desire to have VIK wine wholly reflect Chile's Millahue Valley terroir.  The first is coopering casks from estate wood, and the second is “Amphoir” (a neologism combining of “amphora” and “terroir”), a project using clay from the VIK estate to produce their own amphoras and follow the ancient method of making and storing wine in clay.

Together with the long-standing commitment to quality, these innovations will surely inform the next intriguing chapter of the VIK story.    

More wine columns:   Miranda Franco   
Connect with Miranda on Twitter:   @Miranda__Franco