And the winner is...
Pérez Cruz Carmenère Limited Edition 2009, Maipo
Since it was established in 2001, red-wine specialist Pérez Cruz has built itself a solid reputation for making characterful, dependable reds with more than a hint of elegance and terroir about them. This gusty, perfumed Carmenère, with lovely freshness as well as heady complexity, further cements that reputation.
Pérez Cruz is based out of the 550-hectare Liguai de Huelquén estate which sits at the bottom of the Andean piedmont in eastern (Alto) Maipo. The Pérez family bought the land in 1963; it was used for cattle and crops like almonds and alfalfa until vines were first planted in 1994. It’s a scenic area, made all the more picturesque the graceful wooden undulations of the winery, which was designed by architect José Cruz Ovalle.
Only reds are made, all from fruit grown on the estate – Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for the majority of production, though Carmenère, Malbec (here known as Cot), Syrah, Merlot and Petit Verdot are all planted.
Winemaker Germán Lyon may be softly spoken but his wines are not so reticent. All the wines are blends to some extent – this Carmenère has a small amount of Syrah in the blend, for example – and they manage to combine ripeness and expressiveness with a certain food-friendly elegance which is admirable.
When evaluating this wine, time and again the judges referred to the way in which the sense of Alto Maipo terroir shone through, and how it succeeded in being different amid a plethora of ‘me-too’ concentrated New World reds.
This is the result of a high quality vineyard site, attention to detail, and some increasingly self-assured winemaking.
Written by Peter Richards