Maquis Lien 2004 Colchagua Valley $18
Okay, why did I buy this wine? I’ll fess up, come closer; I’ll mutter it to you softly. I LIKED THE LABEL!
I really do go up and down the wine aisle and pick wines based on the label. I can’t help it. I know you do it too.
When faced with a ga-gillion wine choices, sometimes the label is the deciding factor. My hooligans love it when I let them loose in a wine store and say, “Find mommy a good one”. You can guarantee those two boys will come back with a bottle that has some image of an insect or animal; the grosser or scarier the better.
Oh stop gasping that I let the kids pick the wine, I don’t let them drink it.
So, don’t get me wrong, I do not enjoy lizards in any shape or form but this label spoke to me. “C’mon buy me,” it said tenderly, “You won’t be dissatisfied”. Hmmm, strange words coming from a lizard, but I believed him.
The paper label was peaceful looking with nothing on it but the lizard and a few words that I didn’t understand.
Clutter-less, like I’m trying to make my life.
The color of the label-lizard is a sparkling, silver-platinum combo. I wanted to believe that whoever created this simple but handsome label also carefully crafted the perfect contents to go inside.
I know, I know, I live in this jacked-up mental place called hope. But this label reached out to me. I was powerless. I had to have it.
Was it because I knew the hooligans would think it was so cool; “Lizard wine,” they would cheer, “Are there any lizard guts inside?”
Maybe it was because the silver-platinum colors reminded me of jewelry from Tiffany’s. I do miss Tiffany’s.
So, I bought the wine and it was lovely, oh so lovely.
This wine had layers of flavor. It was expressive. Stylistic. Modern. Clean-cut. Just like the label; not that you would be able to notice with my crappy photography.
The wine starts out leading you down this modest chocolaty-cocoa thoroughfare and then you abruptly take a sharp turn onto fruit explosion alley.
Mmmmm…blackberry, plum and blueberry all at once with a big fruit-filled finish. This was a full-bodied wine but was still easy to drink if ya know what I mean.
So why buy wine from Chile?
Ummmm…because the wines are good and usually cheaper…duh. I like to refer to Chilean wines as charming, little, well-mannered friends.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Chilean wines are no where near the complexity of say, good Bordeaux. But a lack of complexity goes unnoticed because many (most) of the Chilean wines are just happy-go-lucky, food friendly, little party-starters.
Translation: you can drink these wines when they are very young, and you can pig-out with almost anything while you’re doing it. Who doesn’t need that in their life?
And then there’s the cheapness factor. Many of the Chilean wines are not pricey in comparison to wines from other areas. Why? What’s their secret? I don’t really know. Well, maybe I do know a little bit, but not too much. Just listen to my reasoning.
See, Chile has this claim to fame about being “phylloxera free”. Phylloxera what? Okay, phylloxera are these nasty little microscopic buggers that munch on and suck sap from the roots of commercial grapevines. This munching interrupts water flow and leads to the demise of the vine.
Phylloxera is what decimated France’s wine industry in the late 1800’s and did the same in much of the North Coast of California in the 1980’s to 90’s. You can’t kill these little devils but many Native American grape rootstocks are resistant to these pests. So, French grapes (merlot, syrah etc.) grown in America and just about everywhere else are grafted onto Native American grape rootstock. Bottom line, you can’t stick a cabernet sauvignon vine in the ground and expect it to not be attacked by phylloxera eventually. But in Chile, they are phylloxera free (or claim to be) so far. This saves growers from costs of grafting vines onto these resistant rootstocks, therefore transferring the bang-buster savings onto you, the consumer.
Okay, let’s also not mention that land cost in Chile is probably like a quarter of what it costs to grow grapes in Napa Valley but hey, the phylloxera story is much more exciting. I’m sticking with it.
So for those of you who are still reading, why is Chile phylloxera free? Why would I know? I’m not really sure. But if you get your trusty map of South America out and look at Chile you will see how ridiculously isolated this country is. There is like 79,000 miles of coastline to the West (an exaggeration), the Andes Mountains to the East, desert to the North and low and behold the South Pole to the South. I guess if anyone has a chance of being phylloxera free it would be Chile.
I know all of you will sleep better now that you have this information. I know I will.
And I did some checking about the lizard I’m obsessed with on the label. Apparently, Chile has a native language called, Mapuche. The word “lien” on the label means “silver metal” referring to Spanish coins that were melted and made into fine jewelry like the lizard on this beautiful label. I knew I saw that creature at Tiffany’s.
In all my excitement I forgot to mention that this wine is a red blend, primarily Syrah (50%) with Carmenere, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec rounding out the balance. The grapes were harvested from very low-yielding vines (12 bunches of grapes per vine) and the wine was aged 12 months in French Oak.
Now run out and drink and be merry. And try to find the lizard wine. It was at my grocery store, I’m sure it’s at yours.
So what is everyone drinking tonight or last night even? Tell the truth.