Tabalí, Limarí Valley,
Exploring the diversity of Chile's Vineyards, Part 4
Tabali's Talinay vineyard
The next stop on our journey was in Limarí.
It’s one of Chile’s newer wine regions, and it’s up north. Not
as far north as Elqui, but pretty far north all the same. I’m glad
we weren’t driving.
We were off to see Tabalí, the sister
winery to Viña
Leyda, both of which are owned by Guillermo Luksic (it’s very
common for Chilean wineries to be owned by extremely rich dudes as a
sort of side line).
We met with winemaker Felipe Müller
(left, above) and viticulturist Hector Rojas (right, above).
Tabali were pioneers in this region, and
began planting vines in 1993. Now they have 180 hectares on their
own farm, and also sizeable holdings elsewhere in the region. Annual
rainfall here is a measly 90 mm, which means that viticulture simply
couldn’t take place without irrigation.
The typical soils in Limarí are clay
and chalk with a high proportion of stones (most of which are
volcanic in origin). But these soils typically have just a small
proportion of limestone. But Felipe and Hector took us to a new 65
hectare vineyard that they are very proud of: Talinay.
Talinay is just 12 km from the coast (Tabalí’s
home vineyards are some 25 km inland), and its remarkable feature is
its extremely high proportion of limestone in the soil (around 40%).
They reckon there is nowhere else quite like it in Chile. It is an
old marine terrace that has been brought up to the surface, so this
bit of Limarí doesn’t
have the alluvial profile that the rest of the valley does.
‘Talinay is for me a very interesting
blend between power and elegance,’ says Müller. ‘The grapes have a much richer
volume and high acidity levels.’ 2009 was the first vintage from
Hector Rojas has some interesting things
to say about clones. ‘I don’t think the clone is so
important,’ he says. ‘It is 90% place. You want a healthy plant
with no virus and no fungus in the wood, planted in the right
The modernistic winery was built in 2004,
and is covered, but the sides are open to the elements. It’s quite
striking, and processes 1300 tons a year.
UK agent is Boutinot.
Viña Tabalí Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Limarí, Chile
13.5% alcohol. 50% each of Tabali and Talinay fruit. Fresh citrussy
nose with some mineral and herb notes. The palate is taut and fresh
with some green pepper notes and nice acidity. Fresh and crisp.
Viña Tabalí Caliza Reserva Especial Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Limarí, Chile This is all from the Talinay vineyard. Salty, mineral nose is
fresh, pure and tight. The palate shows amazing power and intensity,
with pure citrus fruit and grapefruit freshness. 91/100 (Wine
Society, Virgin Wines)
Viña Tabalí Reserva Chardonnay unoaked 2010 Limarí, Chile Chardonnay was the first variety to put Limarí on the map.
Fresh with pure citrus and pineapple fruit. The palate has nice pure
fruit with bold peach and melon notes, as well as more pineapple.
Attractive white pepper and spice characters, too. 89/100
Viña Tabalí Talinay Chardonnay 2009 Limarí, Chile Tight, fine, precise nose is restrained with subtle mineral
notes and some faint citrus hints. The palate is fine and taut with
restrained fruit – citrus, a hint of pineapple – and really
intense acidity. Quite serious but currently very youthful and in
need of time. 92/100
Viña Tabalí Reserva Especial Chardonnay 2009 Limarí, Chile Fine nose is pure with nut and straw notes as well as a bit of
creaminess. The palate has subtle toasty notes and broad, nutty,
slightly buttery characters. Stylish and fresh. 89/100
Viña Tabalí Reserva Viognier 2010 Limarí, Chile Very attractive aromatic nose is fruity and rounded with peach
and apricot notes. The palate is rounded with apricot and spice
characters. Accessible and delicious. 89/100 (£7.99 Virgin Wines)
Viña Tabalí Reserva Especial Pinot Noir 2009 Limarí, Chile Nice pale cherry colour. Vibrant nose of fresh cherry and red
berry fruit. The palate has bright cherry fruit coupled with a
savoury, spicy, earthy edge. 88/100 (retail £9.99)
Viña Tabalí Talinay Pinot Noir 2009 Limarí, Chile Beautifully fine, earthy, chalky mineral nose with some red
cherry fruit. The palate has tight cherry fruit with real
concentration and high acidity. Savoury, mineral and structured,
this is a serious wine. 94/100 (retail £16.99)
Viña Tabalí Reserva Syrah Encantado 2009 Limarí, Chile Aromatic nose of blackberry, violet and raspberry. Smooth and
sweet with hints of meatiness. The palate is fresh and peppery with
lovely ripe dark fruits and a hint of meat/olive savouriness. 90/100
Viña Tabalí Reserva Especial Syrah 2008 Limarí, Chile Ripe and quite dense with some spicy, meaty tarry notes behind
the sweet blackberry fruit. Concentrated and dense with a savoury,
tarry, earthy quality and some black olive/tapenade character.
Drying finish. Quite new world in style. 89/100 (£9.99 The Wine
Viña Tabalí Payen 2007 Limarí, Chile 100% Syrah from the best vineyard plots. Older vines on clay
over alluvial profile with some limestone. 90% new oak for ageing;
Taransaud with 5 years drying. Sweet, pure, lush blackberry fruit
nose with a creamy edge. The palate is lush and elegant with some
smooth yet prominent tannins providing structure. It’s ripe and
sweet but there is some elegance here. Needs time to put on
complexity. 93/100 (c. £30)