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Chilean Red Rhone Varietal over £10

And the winner is...

Mayu Syrah Reserva 2008, Elqui

This gong makes it two Regional Trophies on the trot for the Mayu Syrah Reserva – and a resounding endorsement of the pioneering venture that is Falernia (the winery that makes the Mayu brand).

The dramatic, steep sided Elqui Valley in Chile’s dusty, sun-drenched north was long known for many things – pisco (grape brandy), astronomical observatories and UFO sightings were some – but wine was not among them. That is, until cousins Aldo Olivier, an Italian emigrant but long-time Elqui resident, and Trentino winemaker Giorgio Flessati teamed up in 1997 to make fine wine. ‘I first came to Chile in 1995 to meet Aldo,’ comments Flessati, ‘and I immediately saw the wine potential of the valley.’

Syrah quickly became one of their star varieties, making a naturally spicy, savoury style. ‘Syrah just worked’ says Flessati, before going on to outline how the winery now has plans for a Single Vineyard label with Syrah to reflect the different terroirs within Elqui.

The best site in the valley for Syrah remains Titon (Quebrada de Talca), on rolling hillsides close to the coast, the vineyard which provides the bulk of the fruit for this wine. Its style, bursting with black olive, grilled meat and fresh blackberry character, is pure Elqui – in its spicy density it shows ageworthiness and impressive harmony.

It’s already a Chilean, if not a global classic. ‘We probably need another 20 years,’ muses a grinning Flessati, ‘in order to define our styles.’ All of which bodes very well for the future.

Written by Peter Richards

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