DWWA 2013 International Trophies: Red Single-Varietal Under £15
Viña Mayu, Malbec, Elqui Valley, Chile 2012 (14.5%)
Stunning rose petal, violet, loganberry and white pepper aromas. Bright and savoury palate with succulent blackberries and an appetising spiced game finish. Lush but not jammy, with exquisite purity. Delicious.
UK £8.99; GAW
Tasted against • Loron et Fils, Duc de Belmont, Côteaux Bourguignons, Burgundy, France 2011 • Altos Las Hormigas, Malbec Clássico, Mendoza, Argentina 2012
The list of contenders for this International Trophy is short but provides plenty of intrigue. Burgundy and the Gamay grape have never before been contenders in this category, so a real coup, but the story is the opposite for Malbec, which (with the exception of 2011 when Argentina still triumphed, but with a Bonarda) has been the winning grape since 2007. This year sees Chile wrestle back the Trophy from its neighbour.
It’s not a surprise that a scented, characterful wine made by the beaming Italian Giorgio Flessati from Chile’s arid north has won a DWWA International Trophy. What’s unusual is that it’s for a Malbec.
Astoundingly, this was the first crop for these Malbec vines. And yet Flessati has form in this area. It was from infant vines that he crafted his first Elqui Syrahs, one of which went on to win Wine of Show at the Wines of Chile Awards in 2005, and which effectively propelled both the Elqui region and Falernia (maker of Mayu) into the global spotlight.
Peppery Syrah, pungent Sauvignon Blanc, elegant PX-scented Torontel, succulent Carmenere – these have been Falernia’s calling cards to date. Now we can add leaping, joyous Malbec to the list: this Trophywinner cavorts like a dapper dandy in a velvet suit with a vibrant floral buttonhole.
The vines are in the middle of the valley, around the town of Vicuña, production was small and the winemaking was hands-off (only old oak, for example). More is being planted.
‘This result is a nice surprise for us,’ grins Flessati, outlining his plans for Pinot Noir, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. Cheery optimism runs in this man’s blood. Both Elqui and Chile are all the better for it.
Peter Richards MW