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For some years now, I've enjoyed a delicious red wine from the Chilean producer Maquis called Lien. This blend from the Colchagua Valley has deep color, ripe black fruit, moderate oak, good acidity and is a very drinkable wine that offers a lot of pleasure for $18. Now that I've tried two other new red wine releases from this winery, I'd thought I'd write about these products in some detail.
Back in 1927, the Hurtado family planted vines in the Colchagua Valley on property situated between two rivers. For many years, this fruit was sold to other producers, but twelve years ago, the family decided to replant these vineyards with the finest clones from both Chile and France. In 2002, they built a gravity flow winery and made their first bottling of Lien, a "Super-Chilean" red, a blend of Carmenére, Syrah, Cabenet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Offering ripe black cherry and mulberry fruit along with notes of bitter chocolate in the aromas and finish, this is a medium-bodied, irresistible red that can accompany most red meats (I love it with lamb). The word "Lien" incidentally means "silver metal", referring to the Spanish coins that were once melted to produce impressive jewelry such as the silver lizard (represented near the top of this post) that graces the label of this wine.
The two new releases from the Maquis estate vineyards are from 2009 and are Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenére. What I like about these wines - as well as the Mien - is the restraint. Colchagua is a warm inland valley where many of Chile's most famous red wines are produced. However, I've found myself shying away from many reds from Colchagua as they are too ripe and almost jammy in certain instances. Thankfully, that is not the case with the Maquis wines.
Here are notes on the wines:
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon- Bright, deep ruby red/light purple with textbook aromas of black currant, cherry and hints of tobacco. Medium-full, there is good ripeness, subtle oak influence, round tannins and good acidity. A delight to drink now, enjoy over the next 3-5 years. Very fairly priced at $20.
2009 Carmenére - As much as I enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Carmenére is even better. Bright ruby red with aromas of black cherry and plum along with notes of white pepper. Medium-full, this has good depth of fruit, moderate tannins, balanced acidity and a light herbal note in the finish. Very good varietal character; this should be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years. Excellent wine that is a fine value at its $20 price tag.
What I really enjoyed about this Carmenére was its combination of balance as well as varietal character. While there have been some ultra impressive bottlings of Carmenére from various Chilean vintners at $40, 50 and $75 a bottle, producers are still finding their way with this variety when the wine retails at $25 and under. I've had too many examples of moderately priced Carmenére that are either overly herbaceous with almost a green, tart edge to them or else they are overwhelmed by peppery notes in the aromas. Thus the Maquis bottling, striking perfect balance between fruit and a light herbal nature, is an excellent achievement at the $20 price.
I love the wines and I also treasure the labels- take a look at them. Beautiful packaging and wines that offer great pleasure- a winning combination from Maquis!
The wines of Maquis are imported in the US by Global Vineyard Importers, Berkeley, CA.