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Weinlaub: ‘I want to make Chilean Grange’

Viña Maipo’s chief winemaker, Max Weinlaub, is so passionate about Syrah, he aspires to make the Chilean equivalent of Australian icon wine Penfolds Grange.

Max Weinlaub

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent visit to Chile, Weinlaub said: “Syrah is a fantastic grape variety and we’re pushing it as our flagship at Viña Maipo.

“I strongly believe in the potential of Chilean Syrah and want to make the Chilean equivalent of Penfolds Grange. Chile is capable of producing its own Grange now.”

Alto Tajamar
Alto Tajamar

In terms of terroir, Weinlaub believes the Maipo Valley, with its Mediterranean climate and rocky alluvial soils, of is one of the best regions in Chile to make Syrahs capable of ageing gracefully.

“The beauty of Syrah is that it’s an incredibly flexible and adaptable variety. I don’t want to make a big blockbuster – I’m seeking to strike the perfect balance between power and elegance.

“My inspiration is the Rhône, but I’m not trying to ape French Syrah – I want my wines to be distinctly Chilean,” he said.

Weinlaub currently makes two high-end Maipo Valley Syrahs: Limited Edition and Alto Tajamar.

His Limited Edition is made almost entirely of Syrah with a tiny percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and aged for 14 months in French oak.

Using the best grapes from the estate’s Maipo vineyard, “icon” Syrah Alto Tajamar is made from around 88% Syrah and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and spends 26 months in French oak.

Only around 800 cases of the wine are made each year, which, according to Weinlaub, offers notes of black cherry, plum, sweet spice and leather.

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